Dud Campbell drove the pickup slowly out of town and down past the dairy to the fishing area on Lewis Creek. It seemed to him that everything he did this morning was in slow motion. He didn’t care.
He grabbed the shovel out of the back and walked down to a certain stand of trees about 40 feet up the bank from the water. Yes, it was here. Many days and many nights they’d shared this place. Sometimes with a campfire – there, you can see the charred wood still – and sometimes with a sandwich or two to share between them during a bright summer day.
Dud started the hole about six feet back from the ring of rocks that was their fire pit. It didn’t have to be a really big hole, but it took him a long time because he wanted to do it carefully. He wanted it to be right. The shovel seemed to weigh fifty pounds this morning.
“Mr. Campbell,” the veterinarian had said, “there’s nothing we can do. He’s old and he can’t see any more, and now he’s in pain.”
Dud carefully scraped the edge of the hole with the shovel. Maybe, he thought foolishly, if I make the hole – well – comfortable …
Nothing made sense this morning. He’d been forced to make a decision. It wasn’t right to ask that. It wasn’t good. No one should have to decide such things.
“It’s really for the best. It’s just going to get worse.”
But how can someone be sure? What if … someday, and somewhere … it turns out that was the wrong decision? Don’t even think that. There’s just the needle, and it’s quick, and then there’s just this bundle in a blanket, his favorite blanket, which I take out of the truck and carry down to the creek for the last time.
I hope, he thought, I hope … well, it had to be right. Wasn’t it, old fella?
One of life’s greatest tragedies is we tend to outlive our best friends.
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