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OK, I know this is a long read but as I wrote this story this morning I just couldn't stop. It took me about an hour and this is the initial draft but I wanted to get it posted to see what you all thought. If you take the time to read it I hope you really enjoy it.




What Are Beagles Good For?


Jim was a strong willed man some would say. He spent most of his days working on the farm and heading into the local tavern after a hard days work to unwind. He really didn’t have much in his life other than wheat fields and beer, and to tell you the truth he never really wanted much else either. People would often chat with him over a cold one but they were no more than mere acquaintances, as he never really allowed anyone to get close enough to become much more than that. Billy on the other hand was a small farm boy who would help out on Jim’s farm from time to time. At nine years old he was full of [censored] and vinegar, getting into his fair share of schoolyard scraps. Without a father around though he was pretty much learning as he went. The good thing about learning as you go is that even though you make your fair share of enemies you also come out with quite a few good friends. Unfortunately for Billy the one friend he wanted the most just wouldn’t let it happen.

“Mr. Jim, what ya got planned for me to help ya with today?” “Well son, knock down them there weeds along the fence and then get to paintin’ it.” Billy had to ask again what Ole’ Jim had said because his mind was so stuck on the word “son” that the rest of what was said just floated off into nowhere. “You heard me boy, clean up them weeds and whitewash that fence”. This time Billy made certain he took it all in and then proceeded to his work.

Later that day as Billy was finishing up the last of his chores he noticed a small black dot coming up the dusty old lane. Being a typical curious young boy he started walking towards it to see what it was. As he got close enough he began to realize that it was a rather young beagle puppy, not more than a few months old. He was covered in dirt from head to toe, smelled like he’d been through every cow pasture this side of the Mississippi and looked like he hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Full of excitement Billy scooped up the pup and ran the rest of the way up the lane to Jim’s old farm house. “Mr. Jim ! Mr. Jim ! come see what I found”. Jim walked slowly through the old screen door and didn’t even have one foot off the porch. “What on God’s green earth do you think you’re doing with that thing?” “Well just look at him” Billy replied. “He needs to be washed up, cleaned and cared for. He don’t have no one else”. “Not on my farm you don’t, what the heck is a beagle good for anyway!” Jim quickly scolded.

Billy’s heart sank as he knew that there was no chance either Mr. Jim or his mother would let him keep a pup. His mother couldn’t afford to feed another mouth and Mr. Jim didn’t want anything on the farm that didn’t serve a purpose. Heck, that was really the only reason Billy was even there.

Not one to give up easily, Billy thought and thought until it finally came to him. “Okay Mr. Jim, I’ll tell you what. If you let me keep this here pup on the farm you won’t have to pay me no more. All you have to do is make sure I have food for him and let him sleep here”. Jim thought long and hard about this new proposition. “Well”. He said. “ I have to feed one of ya anyway and I ain’t one to turn down free work so I guess he can stay”. Billy’s eyes lit up like they hadn’t seen the light of day in years. “On three conditions”!! Jim quickly shouted. “He don’t step one dirty paw up those steps, you make sure he’s fed and watered and I’m not lifting one finger to clean up after him”. Billy quickly agreed, but of course he would have agreed to anything because by that point he wasn’t listening anyway.

Off Billy went to the hose hanging out by the barn. He spent the next hour getting the little beagle cleaned up and fed. Funny thing is, he didn’t even realize until then he was a little blue ticked boy until the ticking wouldn’t wash off. Not until Billy began to calm down and the little blue tick got settled into some hay out by the barn did it dawn on him that he didn’t have a name. “So what would a good name for a beagle be”? Billy thought. “Well, come fall if he’s up to it I’m gonna see how he is at chasin’ those bunnies out back so I guess that settles it. Chase it is”!

The rest of the summer went by pretty much as planned. Billy would show up daily as Mr. Jim would dole out his chores. He worked harder than ever that summer for the sooner he was finished the sooner him and Chase could head out back and play in the thickets and fields. For weeks the two of them would spend every day out in those fields running and playing and sometimes just sitting under an old apple tree that looked as old and crotchety as Mr. Jim.

Then one day Chase had a different plan in mind. Things were going as normal when all of a sudden Chase stopped in his tracks and put his nose to the ground by that ole’ apple tree. Billy, thinking Chase was ready for a rest, began walking towards him. Then, from out of nowhere a high pitched noise came pouring out of that little blue tick. Both Billy and Chase were startled by the sound that little dog made and just watched as Chase’s first bunny darted out from under that crooked apple tree. “Chase, you did it”! Billy exclaimed. “ You jumped your very first rabbit”! It was as if a father had heard his son say dada for the first time. Billy couldn’t have been more proud of him.

Over the next two months the evenings became less and less like play as Chase slowly learned with every outing how to run a rabbit. His bark slowly turned into a bawl and Billy knew that his little pup was growing up and doing what he was always meant to do.

Billy couldn’t wait to get back and tell Jim about Chase’s progress and how excited he was to get out there come fall. “Mr. Jim, you’d be so proud of Chase, he ran his first rabbit today full circle”! “What good is that”! Jim replied. “When I was younger we just kicked our own bushes and did just fine, I still don’t see what a mangy old beagle is good for” Billy’s high spirits sank quickly as the one man he looked up to still wouldn’t allow anyone to get too close to him…even Billy.

That summer flew by for Billy and Chase and both of them could feel the anticipation in the air as the nights grew colder and the leaves on the trees slowly faded to amber’s and yellows. Finally the moment of truth was upon them as the sun slowly cast its beams upon the first day of small game season. “Are you ready to go get some bunnies boy”? Billy asked Chase, although it was a rather silly question. Chase had more desire to hunt than he did skill. If he was just a nose and eyes he’d still try all he could to jump a rabbit for his best friend. They set off slowly behind the barn as they had countless times in the past. Only this time it had a different feel about it for both of them, this time was for real and Billy knew just where to start.

That old apple tree slowly came into view as Chase made a beeline right for the briars surrounding it. It wasn’t long before the first bawl of the morning pierced the chill morning air and the hairs on Billy’s arms stood up with anticipation. The rabbit busted from the underbrush with Chase quickly to follow. It wasn’t long until Chase’s bawls were just a faint sound in the distance as Billy prepared for what he knew was coming. Slowly but surely he could hear Chase getting louder and louder as he shouldered his old .410 side by side. The rabbit broke over the hill and shined against the dull backdrop as the sun’s rays lit up his back like dew on an early morning wheat field. In seconds it was over as Billy’s shot rang true and the rabbit lay just 20 yards away. Both Billy and Chase reached the rabbit at the same time and congratulated each other for a job well done.

They ended up getting two more rabbits that day and once again Billy couldn’t wait to go back and tell Mr. Jim, although he wasn’t sure why. “See Mr. Jim, this is what beagles are good for. I got three rabbits today thanks to my friend Chase here”. “No you didn’t”. Jim replied. “You just got the same amount you would have by yourself but just used the dog to do it. Like I said, I still don’t see what beagles are good for”. By now Billy was expecting those answers and wasn’t fazed by it as much as he had been in the past.

Over the next ten years all three grew older while the circle kept repeating itself. Billy had just graduated high school and pretty much did most of the farm work as Jim’s body wasn’t what it used to be, although he still found time to get Chase out after a few bunnies. Jim got used to watching the two of them form a bond over that time and found himself enjoying watching the two of them go out in the evenings, although he would never tell Billy that. He would just pretend to head out into the barn to grab something and watch out the window as they both did what they do best. When they were out of site he would slowly walk back to his rickety chair on the front porch awaiting their return as if nothing had happened.

The only thing that was starting to change was that while Billy was getting stronger and bigger, old Chase found it harder and harder to get up. His bones would hurt the morning after a long hunt and he couldn’t hear quite as well as he used to, not that he listened much anyway. The only thing that wasn’t fading away on Chase was his desire to hunt which grew stronger every day he woke up. If a beagle could live as long as they had a desire to hunt they would never die and Chase was proof of that. Unfortunately for both Billy and Chase this isn’t the case as Billy would soon find out.

He pulled up the drive that morning about 6 am with his trusty .410 in the passenger seat beside him. As he rounded the corner into the barn he noticed something wasn’t the same with Chase. He didn’t jump up with excitement. His tail wasn’t wagging and he could not hear the whimpers he had become accustomed to hearing. Instead, ole’ Chase just laid there with his head against the ground and tail slowly moving from side to side dragging through the straw. Chase wanted oh so badly to lead Billy into the woods one last time but his body just couldn’t do it anymore. As tears started to fill Billy’s eyes he realized that today would be the last day the two friends would spend afield. “Chase, old buddy”. Billy said choking back the tears. “I know that deep down inside you can’t wait to get to the apple tree and I’ll be darned if I’ll let you carry me for 10 years and me not carry you once”. With that Billy lifted Chase off the floor and headed towards the back meadow, no gun in hand”. Jim, staring out his back window, felt his heart sink for the first time in years as he watch the boy he saw grow up take his friend for one last walk.

Billy quickly found the apple tree and slowly sat down beneath it with Chase curled up in his lap. As the two of them fell asleep Billy could feel Chase’s feet going and hear his whimpers as he chased those bunnies in his sleep. After what seemed like fifteen minutes Billy slowly struggled to open his eyes against the morning sun. Not wanting to look down he sat quietly hoping to hear the whimpers that put him to sleep only to find silence, he knew he was gone.

Billy said his final goodbyes as he buried Chase under that old apple tree and prepared for the lonely walk back to the farm. As he stood and turned around, to his surprise there stood Jim, tears still running down his cheeks, a 12 gauge in his right hand and a .410 in his left. “Mr. Jim, what are you doing out here”? Billy said. “Well, you came out here to go rabbit hunting and I was just hoping you still wanted to go”. It was then that Billy realized that even though it seemed as if he wasn’t getting though to Jim all these years, their bond was always growing. “But Mr. Jim, you always asked me what beagles were good for and never wanted to come out before. What made you want to come out with me and hunt now”? “Son”. Mr. Jim said. Only this time it hit Billy like a ton of bricks, for he knew that this time that Jim meant what he said. “This…is what beagles are good for”.
 

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good job i know you didnt waist your time this morning . it shure would have taken me longer to right that story than just one day.Keep wrighting stories.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I may, not sure yet. I sent one in about 2 years ago that got published. It's really cool to see your stories in the magazine. Thanks for the compliments.
 

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Excellent story, had me all choked up at work
 

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Thanks for all of the responses guys, I really appreciate it.
It's just wierd how it works for me when I write. I won't be thinking about anything much and then all of a sudden an idea will pop into my head and I just start writing and never really stop from start to finish. The only problem is that once I get a story out it's usually awhile before another one pops in LOL.
 

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this should be in the rabbit hunter and the american beagler also.
 

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GREAT story!!!! had my all choked up i agree send it into american beagler
 

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I agree, best story ever. Pass the tissues, I ain't ashamed to admit I need one right now as I sit here reading this with my old beagle laying beside me. Great job! PUBLISH IT!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everyone for all of the great compliments, I really appreciate it.
I did speak with the editor of the game news as I've had a story published before but as I suspected they usually don't run fiction (which is what I thought but wasn't sure). If that doesn't pan out I'll probably try American Beagler. I'll let you guys know if anything comes of it. If not no biggie, I'm just happy that those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. I run dogs quite often with my Uncle and friends and always try to remember that there's more to hunting dogs than just chasing game.
 

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Awesome! I have two at home - 9 y/o and 6 m/o. You put the bond between boy and dog into words very nicely.
 
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