A delightful, exciting book about a stray dog in a West Texas town. Adventure, fun, and excitement follow this amazing dog and his friends on adventure after adventure.
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"BUY HERE" merewether Hawk "BUY HERE"
Adventures of Whirlwind
West Texas is a place where jack rabbits and coyotes thrive, rattlesnakes come up into your backyard, and an occasional mountain lion prowls the mesas.
The land is desert.
Mesquite, sagebrush, tumbleweeds and greasewood offer the only vegetation. Blue mesas dominate the horizon, like ocean waves before they crest. They jut out toward the plains, giving the landscape a sculpted, contrasted relief to the flat, parched terrain.
This story takes place in a small West Texas town. It was a time when little towns were the places people called home. These towns were the birthplaces of giants of industry, entertainment stars and sports greats. Just about everybody has moved into the cities for work these days, leaving the small towns mere ghosts of their former bustling selves.
During the oil boom, my town was a thriving place of 25, 000. After the boom, the town's once rich oil population had succumbed to the decline of the oil craze and had dwindled to 2,500 people.
Irrigated cotton fields were replacing the oil fields and the Ogalla Aquifer was making the desert bloom.
The town was nice and quiet, with a friendly atmosphere and genuine, caring townspeople. I knew everybody there, and everybody knew me. I was as much a part of this town as the pavement on the streets.
The downtown boasts a drugstore, bank, hardware store, barber shop, pool hall, several small specialty shops, the town grocery and, of course, a court house, which dominates the middle of the town square.
We do have something special that other small towns don't have.
The dog is a Great Dane, golden yellow with a black mask face . It stands four feet tall. It's ears are stick straight, head as massive as a grown man's and it's paws are easily the size of boxing gloves. The Great Dane is a king, like a lion is the King of Beasts.
The Great Dane dominates the canine world. Danes combine a regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, muscular body. They are spirited, courageous, never timid, always friendly and dependable. The majesty of a Great Dane is possessed by no other breed of dog.
The dog was owned, they say, by a family of oil boomers who had moved on and left him to fend for himself. They had his ears cropped to stand straight up. I'm sure the dog had a good blood line. He was the town's dog after that. Everyone fed him and took care of him.
When he needed medical attention, somebody always took care of his expenses. The municipal dog catcher arrested him a few times, but someone
would always bail him out. No one knew how old he was. He had been around as long as I could remember. His name was Whirlwind. Every person in town loved him.
Every dog in town hated him.
He got his name one dusty day behind the new Pontiac dealership. The big, golden dog stood atop a six foot tall pile of dirt. About twenty dogs had him surrounded. Barking madly, the menacing attackers would venture boldly up the mound after him. Each time, he would ferociously bark them down and repel their attacks.
Soon, the mongrels seemed to coordinate their forays. Several at a time would assault the Great Dane's dirt mountain. He barked them down every single time.
Suddenly, all of the dogs advanced at once, barking, growling, hell-bent with certain victory in their grasp. The huge, paladin dog saw the attack coming and started spinning. His massive front feet knocked dogs left and right as he spun around and around. Dogs yelped and whined, picked themselves up and darted up again and again, only to be knocked back down to the foot of the mound. Soon, that huge dog was nothing but a blur spinning so fast you couldn't see anything but a violent dusty golden Whirlwind.
After awhile, dogs were scattered like flotsam on a calm sea, some knocked cold by Whirlwind's gargantuan front paws. Whirlwind spun and spun until there wasn't a single dog that had enough left in him to do anything, but get away from the unbeatable dog.
From his perch, atop the dusty mound, Whirlwind had virtually defeated every dog on the lot.
Then, Whirlwind laid down on top of that dirt pile...and took a nap.
He would go to all of the town events. At football games, he would take up five seats in the bleachers, sprawled out, enjoying the attention people gave him. When we scored, Whirlwind would run out on the field and celebrate with the players, jumping around, knocking them down, licking them and sharing the excitement.
At baseball games, he would go after the balls that had been hit past the outfield. He'd grab up the balls in his massive jaws and drop them at the feet of the nearest player. A pat on the head was all the reward he ever wanted.
We all crawled stealthily up the bank and peeked over the cactus. The Volkswagen's old, rusted seats had been pulled out and placed in front of its double swing-out doors. The seats surrounded a makeshift table, which had been hastily fashioned from an empty high-line wire spool. An old parachute had been stretched from the roof of the Volkswagen over two vertical posts to make an awning. Trash was everywhere. Broken beer and whisky bottles had been thrown into a ragged, dangerous pile. Several rusted, fifty-five gallon barrels of rain water leaned up against the bus. Wire cages containing jack rabbits and chickens lined the front of the Volkswagen. A small coyote paced in another cage that had been placed away from the rabbits and birds.
We hunkered down. Even Whirlwind was lying on his belly, peeking down at the bus.
"That's not a camp, that's someone's home!" I whispered.
"Who do you suppose lives there? Do you think they're home?" Becky asked.
"I'll bet it's a hermit," Animal answered.
"What's a hermit?" Kent butted in.
"It's a monster that eats little boys. Be quiet, or you'll be his next meal," Steven said, popping him on the head.
Kent looked horrified.
"No, no Kent. It's someone that has withdrawn from life. Someone who has completely dropped out of society to live alone and be by themselves," Becky quickly comforted Kent, who's curiosity returned immediately.
"Can anybody see inside?" Shirley whispered. No one answered.
"I can’t see a thing. It’s awfully quiet. Maybe there’s no one home," Becky glanced at me.
"Could be," I said.
"We didn’t see anyone when we were coming down here," Steven whispered.
"He may be downriver fishing or in back, away from the river," Eddie offered.
"Could be," I said again.
Then, to the horror of us all, Animal shouted, "Why are we whispering? We should just go over there and knock on his door!"
Suddenly! the doors burst open and the ugliest, dirtiest, human being we had ever seen leaped out of the bus. He was dressed only in dirty overalls. His beard was down to his chest, it was yellow around his mouth and chin. His wild, long, stringy hair flew in all directions, tamed only by a red bandana around his forehead. He was carrying a double barrel shot gun.
When Whirlwind caught sight of the gun, he growled low. The hermit braced the gun against his shoulder and yelled something as he fired at us. The noise was deafening. Buckshot spray dug into the sand bank just above our heads and showered us with dirt. Whirlwind sprang to his feet, barking like mad.
"Run!" I yelled,
I grabbed Becky's hand and tore back down the hill. I pulled on her so hard I could have sworn her arm would come out of the socket. Everybody jumped up and ran as fast as they could after me. Another shot rang out, but we were all running too hard to notice what it had hit.
"OH MY GOD!" Becky cried as she ran, "He's trying to kill us!" We ran like lightning back to Blue Hole. Whirlwind ran ahead of us to the beach. When we finally caught up to Whirlwind, Animal and Bobby collapsed on the sand, panting hard. The rest of us jumped up and down, grabbing each other and yelling. Whirlwind ran from the beach to the water's edge, looking frantically about, sniffing the wind.
"What's the matter with Whirlwind?", Becky asked. "He looks like he's lost something."
"KENT," someone said.
Steven fell to his knees, "Oh my God, he shot Kent!" he wailed.
"I'm going for help, give me your keys, Sammy!" Eddie shouted.
"That'll take too long. It's thirty miles to town and back!"
"I don't care, give me your keys! We have to do something!"
I tossed Eddie my keys. Eddie grabbed Shirley's hand and ran to the truck. They were gone in a cloud of dust.
"What are we going to do?" Becky said, sobbing.
"Just wait for help to come. We’re no match for that shotgun," I said.
"We can’t just wait around here doing nothing!" shouted Steven.
"Yeah, it could take forever for help to get here," Animal agreed.
My hand went to my forehead. I closed my eyes and thought of Kent. Bobby was pacing back and forth, as was Animal.
"Hell, I'm not going to stand around here waiting," I said, "I'm going back."
"Me too," Steven said, getting off his knees. Bobby and Animal nodded fervently and stood up.
"Sammy, you'll all be killed if you go back!" Becky sniffled.
"I don't care. Come on, everybody. Lets go!"
I started back for the hermit's camp. Becky caught up to me and slipped her hand in mine. Whirlwind bolted out before us. He knew where we were going.
We crept back up to the spot where the old man had shot at us. There was no sign of Kent. We looked all around the bus for him, then at each other.
"Do you see anybody?" Becky asked quietly.
I peered over the cactus, trying not to go too high with my head. The area was silent as a tomb. The animals in their cages had quieted down. It looked just like it did the first time we had seen it.
I ducked back down, "I don’t see a thing," I whispered.
"What are we going to do? Oh my! What are we going to do?" Becky buried her head in her hands.
We were all really scared.
"Maybe we could create a diversion, you know, throw some rocks into the river. Maybe he will come out to see what’s happening. Then we could get into a better position and jump him," Animal offered.
"Yeah and all get killed," Bobby whispered fiercely.
"Well, we have to do something," Steven said in a shaky voice.
"Should we go back to Blue Hole and wait for Eddie and Shirley to bring help?" asked Becky.
All of this was too much for Steven. He jumped up and shouted, "He's got my brother! I'm going after him!" and stumbled down the hill.
Becky and I screamed at Steven to stop, but it was too late. He was already running hell bent toward the bus. The doors swung open again and the hermit stepped out with his gun in his hand. He fired it into the sky and shouted, "Go away! Leave me alone!"
ADVENTURES OF WHIRLWIND
The rock was too far for me to reach. Animal and Bobby were just a few feet above me, standing on the top of King mountain.
"Come on Sammy, just a few more feet. Bobby shouted.
That last few feet seemed like a mile to me. I was perched on the side of King mountain three feet from the top of it’s flat mesa. A big rock jutted out, blocking of my path. Bobby and Animal had taken another route to the top.
I looked down.
It was at least twelve, to thirteen hundred feet to the flat barren prairie below. But I wouldn’t fall that far. I would likely hit the huge rock ledges that formed the face of the mountain. Still it wouldn’t be at all pleasant.
It was a rock climb up to the top. With ledges of rocks about two to five feet high, and three to ten feet wide, all the way to the top. Like a thousand staircases, the rocks and ledges rose to the top of the huge mesa. I had managed to take a route that put a rock jutting two feet out over my head. Rock climbing has it’s elements of risk, so we are always careful to the pick the right path. This time I didn’t.
Animal yelled. "Come on Sammy, or go back down a little way, and come up the way Bobby and I did, You just had to try another way didn’t you."
"Whirlwind is waiting for us to haul him up," Bobby added.
"Are we gonna have to haul you up too?"
"Ha, Ha, Ha." Bobby laughed at the thought of having to haul me up like Whirlwind.
We had climbed this old flat mountain many times before. This time we had decided to bring Whirlwind. Whirlwind was the town dog. He was a stray, but he belonged to everyone in the west Texas town we all came from. He was a golden yellow great dane, with a black mask face. He would whirl and whirl when he fought of other dogs or was excited about something. Thus his name.
He would sit on his haunches and look out over the prairie enjoying his perches. Sometimes he would spot a jackrabbit and bark and spin almost knocking one of us off the ledge
Whirlwind did most of his climbing on his own. Like I said, the face of King Mountain is a steady step up from one ledge after the other. We had a harness strapped to him, but the face of the mountain had those ledges that were in small segments that you just stepped up to, or made a little jump.
Whirlwind weighed almost 120 pounds, so when we did haul him up it took all three of us. We would climb up and grab the rope that whirlwind was tied to, and help him navigate the rocks.
He loved it. Every time he reached a ledge he would spin and bark, we had to be careful he didn’t knock one of us off the ledge.
When he saw us going up the mountain, he spun around so much, and barked, he just wouldn’t go home. We just decided what the heck, it would be an adventure to take him on the climb with us. Me and the two brothers had a long nylon rope with us. The twins’ dad owned the local hardware store so we had plenty of rope and equipment on hand.
We would go up ten or so feet, then haul Whirlwind up with the rope that was safely secured to him as a sling. .
"Come on Sammy! Whirlwind’s waiting."
I could hear Whirlwind barking impatiently.
Bobby and Tootsie Preston were two of my best friends. They were twins, but you couldn’t tell it, they were opposite as night and day. We called Tootsie, Animal, except for Bobby and Becky. Becky was their sister. I had a really bad crush on her.
Tootsie was pretty wild looking when he went on camping trips. One time when we had stayed the night at Blue Hole, our favorite swimming spot. Tootsie woke up one morning with his hair going in all directions, and his face dirty from the last night’s meal. For some reason he hadn’t cleaned up good after we ate. We had eaten a watermelon, and he was pretty grungy. When we looked at him that morning, someone said he looked like an animal and it stuck.