Bo Peep II
and the Universal Law of Karma
by Darby Mitchell
part 1 of 2
Well, I guess you’re here because you want to know the story of Bo Peep. What you’ve got to understand is that there was Bo Peep I and Bo Peep II. See, my young son Christopher — he was about 10 at the time — had picked out from Beatrice’s litter — a fine pup, the biggest of the lot — most alert of all the puppies, most sturdy, fine, bright coat. Out of all seven pups, only this one pup had a name, because — well, I don’t s’pose you need all them details.
But now that I’ve let you peek in far enough that you’ve seen there was a first Bo Peep, and that the Bo Peep of my story was a second Bo Peep, I suppose I just can’t not tell you why Bo Peep II got that name without telling you what happened to Bo Peep I, and because that story is probably even more interesting that the story about the universal law of Karma, here it is:
First, you got to know that both these stories happened in the woods above the bridge in northern Michigan: a wilderness. Lots of woods, lots of wood ticks, lots of fish, lots of deer, some bear. Porcupines. Not many people, which is why those of us who stay, have stayed.
Up here we’ve got state police, and at the time we had a newly vacant U.S. Air Force base. Not to mention Moonshine Hollow. Also, a few flying saucer sightings up by the bluff by policemen; outlaws galore; and not a few U.S. government-protected witnesses. Hoffa’s probably moldering here, too, dead or alive, whichever. We call the place ‘God’s country.’
Now the mother of both Bo Peeps was Beatrice. Beatrice Rose. Beatrice was a fine mother. Four stars. This was her second litter, and she knew all about how to do it. So there she was out beside our A-frame on the fine sand beach of Lake Michigan with all them puppies around, over and under her. They was about four weeks old — old enough that we should think of getting them homes, but not soon enough to send them off. I mean, they were drooling mother’s milk and wobbling.
Now about this time, certainly not after this time, but just about now, the only other breeder in the Upper Peninsula that I knew of, called me on the phone, asked me if I’d lost a pup. I craned my head around the edge of the door and counted the pups in the panting circle of Beatrice’s body. Seven.
“No. They’re right here.”
I counted again: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.”
A slight pause. “How old are your pups?”
I looked at the wall calendar. “One, two, three — four weeks. Why?”
There was a long pause, a pause that had a whole untold story in it. Then, her voice sounding as if she were frowning and pursing her lips, “What condition?”
“I guess, it couldn’t be your pup, then.”
“What couldn’t be my pup?”
Another long pause. “Well, all right — strangest thing. Last night a state police trooper pulled up in my yard, and in his arms was a real pretty Keeshond. He asked me if I’d lost a pup. He knew me, I knew him. He knew I raised Keeshonds, knew, too that no one else up here raised Keeshonds. He didn’t know about you. Well, the pup was a good six weeks old, one of the finest Keeshonds I’ve ever seen. Bright-eyed, sturdy, nice coat. Clean.”
“Where’d you get her, Bob?” I asked him. Bob — that’s the trooper’s name — kind of hemmed and hawed, looked at his shoes, and then he says he’d been out at the abandoned air force base, just moseying around, checking on things, you know, having a cigarette, when into the beam of his headlights he saw something moving — dancing, he says.
“And so he got out, and went over to it and the little thing was perfectly friendly, not scared at all. Not abandoned, either, or at least not long abandoned. Fur wasn’t matted. No leaves on her. She wasn’t crying. Absolutely friendly. So he bent down to her and she come right to him and was happy to lick his chin. And then he said he thought I must have lost a puppy — from my kennel ya know, because, like I says, he thought I had the only one, so he come over to my house to bring it back.”
“Wow,” I said, and meant it. “Do you think somebody just lost it?”
“Yeah, but who? And how do you lose a six-week-old pup on the runway of an abandoned air force base? Those pups sell for $500 anyway, beneath the bridge. Just lose it? Who would just lose it?”
“No identifying marks?”
“Show-class Keeshond. Fine little bitch.”
“There’s a mystery!” I says, looking out to make sure I still had — one, two, three, four, five, six — there they were, seven!
“Well,” she says, “If it’s not yours — but how could it be yours when you live a good two hundred miles from me and your pups are a good two weeks younger than the pup Bob found? I’ll run an ad in the Sioux paper. If no one claims her, I’ve got a friend’s been waiting for a Keeshond for a couple years — can’t afford one. I’ll give her this one. No papers on it. I can’t sell it if I can’t prove its pedigree. Shame, though.”
“Yeah, I guess!” I says.
I went outside where Beatrice was lying with her sleeping pups. I counted them very carefully: one, two, three, four, five, six — no, okay, there he is, his rump sticking out from beneath Beatrice — Seven! But to be sure, I counted them again. Seven. And in an hour or so, I counted them again. Seven. And in an hour or so after that, I counted them again, and there were six, and Beatrice lying there just as peaceful as she always was.
We asked the neighbors down by Indian Cemetery, but they said no one’d been down our road for the last week — no tourist, no poacher, no kids — nobody’d been down that road. It’s not even a road. Down here it’s an Indian file trail. Even if there’d been somebody, Beatrice would’ve barked. No eagle carried the pup off, or Beatrice would have had a fine fit. Pine snake? No, Beatrice would have had a fine fit at a pine snake, too. Nothing had happened to set Beatrice off. That was our main clue.
Chris was fit to be tied, of course. “Why did it have to be my dog?” he cried. “Why my dog? So the first day he cried most of the day. After that he cried for the next two weeks.
“God did it, didn’t He!”
“Well, I suppose, if everything is eventually attributable to God.”
“Why? Why my dog? He knew I loved that dog, and he took it away! He did it deliberately!”
“I don’t know.”
So we looked everywhere you can look in the woods. But if there were only bones left, the bones would have been scattered, and we never would’ve found them anyway.
And then I started putting things together. A fine little Keeshond just happens to show up in fine condition at an abandoned air force base two hundred miles east of here, just at the same time that a state police trooper happens to pull up at that very spot to have a cigarette, and there she is, dancing in his headlights just the way a Keeshond will dance for the footlights.
So the trooper does the logical thing and takes the dog to the only other Keeshond breeder in the U.P., who just happens to live in that town a mile or so from the air force base. And so the breeder calls me. My pups were only four weeks old. Within a day or two of the dog’s being found, our best of litter just happens to be gone — in broad daylight. And Beatrice a careful mother — no barking when her underage pup is taken from her. And we never find blood, a single tuft of fur or a skeleton.
I looked wonderingly at my mournful son. “Chris, this is crazy, but what if there really are time warps? What if time before can overlap with time after, like plates in the earth — you know, like an earthquake?”
He hated my logic. He kicked at the sand, and went off to throw stones at the lake.
I simply don’t know what happened to that pup. We could’ve gone over to have a look at the found pup the breeder’d already gave to her friend, but it wouldn’t have proved a thing, because that pup had classic markings — nothing to identify her as anything but a first-class Keeshond. And it would’ve wrecked my boy, because all Keeshond pups are extraordinarily friendly and charming — they do dance! — and he would forever think that that dog was his Bo Peep, and it already was given to somebody else.
Well, I did think I had to tell you about the first Bo Peep, because something strange happened with the second Bo Peep and there might be a relationship — you know, how one thing leads to another? But anyway, that’s the reason why we had two Bo Peeps, Bo Peep I and Bo Peep II. The first Bo Peep, a fine dog, vanished. The second Bo Peep, a not-nearly-anywhere-near-the-ballpark-so-fine-dog, remained sulking-like behind when all the other pups had been chosen.
So Chris named her Bo Peep II, but she was definitely a reject.
Now, with that preamble, as it’s called, out of the way, I guess I’m clear to tell you about Bo Peep II and the Universal Law of Karma.
There was trouble with that second Bo Peep right from the start. First off, once Beatrice stopped nursing her children, she lost motherly interest — normal enough. She wanted her daughter gone. It was hard winter by this time — something we have oh maybe three-quarters of the time here in the Upper Peninsula. They always say, ‘you can tell the difference between winter and summer in the U.P., but only because the skiing gets a little cindery during the summer.’
Every story should have a little humor in it, I think, just to wake people up with the sound of theirselves laughing. So time comes around when Bo Peep II was about seven months old — old enough to be not cute anymore — not that she ever was.
She was not particularly good-tempered, neither — or not so you’d notice. Already she was bossing her mother around. So when we were in town one day, and I had let the two of them run in the snow down at the park, Beatrice managed to run off with her daughter.
Gone, both of them! We hadn’t just lost one dog, now we’d lost three dogs! But no, when I finally went out on the ice of the frozen lake and called Beatrice, she came, all tired out.
“What’d you do with Bo Peep?” I accused her.
She slunk into the car and shut her eyes. Keeshonds smile, and there was a definite smirk on her eyes-shut face. Somethin’ was more wrong here than I could shake a stick at.
So, suspicious-like, I went to my friend Mary Joy’s house, which is in town, and I phoned the local radio disk jockey, and I asked him if he’d announce on the air that our pup had run off. As I told you already, Escanaba — that’s the name of our town — is a small town, and here you don’t need to fill out forms in triplicate if you want to say something quick to everyone in town.
“Okay,” he says, “What’s the dog’s name and what does she look like and where’d you lose her?”
“Her name is Bo Peep,” I says. “Actually, Bo Peep II, but that’s another story. And she looks like a sheep.”
Long pause. And then he says, real dead-pan, “Lady, you lost a dog named Bo Peep who looks like a sheep.”
“Yeah,” I says.
“Is this on the level?”
Copyright © 2006 by Darby Mitchell