In early August 2012 Lana was to travel to the Kids Across America Kamp near Branson, Missouri to serve as a volunteer coordinator for kids from inner-city environments. Since she planned to pass through the town where her husband’s uncle lived, Regis thought it would be a grand time to finally accede to the aunt’s request for his labor and limited gardening skills to create a garden in their back yard and move some saplings – or what had been be saplings five years earlier. With the concept approved in Mississippi, Regis and the Beagles joined Lana on the first leg of her trip. As the trip began, they looked like migrant workers with the truck loaded with a wheel barrow on top, a tiller strapped to a rack on the back, hand tools loaded inside and luggage popping up in all available spaces! The trip was uneventful except for the stop for gas just off busy Highway 78 that is eventually to become Interstate 22. The station attendant would not accept credits cards as a means of payment! Some places in America are destined to catch up with the future; that place will not make the list.
Regis’ work-week began the morning that Lana continued her travel west to Branson. If you thought the rest of this story would be all about the remarkable garden that was re-designed on the fly, meticulously marked, pick-axed, turned, tilled, raked, planted, watered and photographed – you would be correct, except you forgot about the Beagles. This story is about the Beagles!
One evening after a long day of work in the August heat, Regis was resting on the couch and enjoying a glass of Bourbon, neat, when the aunt abruptly commented that the pups had not been seen for several minutes. A quick check confirmed their escape via the open, back gate. In deck-shoes, shorts, a T-shirt, two small treats in hand but no cell-phone, an already fatigued Regis chased after the two. After a quick glance back to be sure I was following, the Beagles were swiftly across the street and along the fairway of the par-3 #11 hole, were quickly over a bridge, crisscrossing the fairway of the par-4 #9, across fairway #18 with a brief stop at a watering hole near fairway #10, then out of bounds and along the street in front of the club house on Crumpler Blvd, thru a neighborhood, along portions of vacant Rowlett Drive to an open field, under a fence (Regis went over the 6’ foot high fence with the approval from James Boudreaux, the far side owner, who was seeking an explanation for the noise in his chicken coop), thru a wooded area that skirted a quarry, across another street and along the cart path of the par-3 #4 hole to its T-box. To a golfer’s left side of the T-box was a copse.
There the hounds settled in for an hour-long hunt while Regis, in the darkness that had settled in while he was near the chicken coop, began occasional forays into the woods trying to catch the mutts. He only managed with increasing frequency to get himself entangled in unseen brambles. All manner of calling, cajoling, whistling, pleading, and admonishing that their food was back at the house – if they had the energy to go home – did not distract the dogs from the hunt. Their baying, snorting and rapid movements and redirection continued unabated over the roughly five-acre copse turned game preserve.
Finally, an exhausted, panting Bud exited the darkened woods and stood on the gravel path with capitulation on his snout. He demonstrated no intent or energy to continue his run; he was spent and was looking at Regis for solace. Bud was placed willingly on-leash as the search for the companion continued. With only a momentary glimpse of his eyeballs in the beam of a passerby’s flashlight, it was as if the reclusive Miller had vanished. He was neither seen nor heard again so Regis very reluctantly began a long, slow, dejected walk back to the uncle’s home (after calling for directions with the passerby’s cell phone!), wondering how he was going to explain the situation to Lana. The modified directions provided by the passerby had neglected to address the T- intersection at the T-box of the par-4 hole #9, so a U-turn developed at what should have been the mid-point of the trek homeward. While traveling along Lauren Lane after leaving the par-4 fairway #18 and still a half-mile distant from the house, the passerby caught up to the man-dog pair and said he had driven along the cart path and had seen a dog in the vicinity of the bridge that ran between holes #4 and #5. Regretfully he was unable to pursue the dog cross the bridge with his truck. While momentarily elated, Regis was not sure there was good news in the report – after all, Miller did not have a cell phone with which to phone home for directions! Regis continued his dejected walk, mumbling to himself about leaving his friend in the dark alone. After finally reaching the uncle’s home all that changed – inside the front, storm door sat Miller looking out with eyes expressing what Regis was thinking – for the love of Pete, where have you been!
After a round of belly rubbing and head scratching, Regis settled back onto the couch where he had been sitting three hours earlier and picked up his glass of Old Crow bourbon still on the coffee table and pondered the remainder of his work week.
And yes, Charlotte, there is a new and colorful garden at the aunt and uncle’s home on Renee Drive. But no, irises were not planted because they would not stay in line the way the aunt expected them to over the coming years. You can bet a story could be told about the garden work – but not in this document.
Back at home Regis will occasionally grab a bottle of Old Crow Reserve and then sit back to enjoy a shot or two, neat, while pondering the times when he once ran fleet of foot thru wood and dale – and of course smile to himself about how he can still keep up with his Beagles – in a manner of speaking.