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A Dog Named God

A Dog Named God

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A Dog Named God

121 Seiten
1 Stunde
Jul 29, 2012


The last thing Peter Gilliam expected for his tenth birthday was a dog, especially one he finds drowning in his backyard pool during a torrential midnight storm. But the dog's mysterious arrival is only a portent of the strangeness to come, and Peter soon begins to think that the animal might be more than just a dog - he may in fact be his guardian angel.

Jul 29, 2012

Über den Autor

I am a semi-retired elementary school teacher and full-time writer. My first novel, The Cottonmouth Club (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) was selected as an IRA Children's Book Award Notable Book for 2005. It is available as an e-book at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


A Dog Named God - Lance Marcum

A Dog Named God


Lance Marcum

Copyright© 2012, Lance Marcum

Published by Smashwords

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author or publisher.

This book is purely a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons whether living or deceased, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

* * *

A Dog Named God

Part One

It all started on Christmas Eve.

I was shaking one of my birthday presents under the Christmas tree when the doorbell rang. I’ll get it! I yelled toward the kitchen. It’s Mrs. Cathcart.

Hello, Peter, Mrs. Cathcart said when I opened the front door.

Madam, I said with a smile.

She smiled back. Radar.

I opened the screen for her, then quickly closed the front door behind her to keep out the cold. Racecar.

Mrs. Cathcart handed me a tissue-filled gift bag. Happy tenth birthday, Peter.

She bent down to give me a quick hug, then stepped back and said, "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

I had to close my eyes for a second to visualize how the phrase’s letters read the same backward as well as forward. "That’s a great one, Mrs. Cathcart, thanks! Is that the longest palindrome you know?

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t, she teased. You’ll just have to wait until the next time I see you.

I’d lived next door to Mrs. Cathcart for half of my life, but I’d only gotten to know her that fall, after Mr. Cathcart died. The first time we’d talked, I’d told her about my recent obsession with palindromes; it turned out that she loved them, too, so we’d been greeting each other with them ever since.

Mom walked into the living room just then, carrying a flaming cake. Dad was right behind her, holding his camera. Happy birthday to you, they began singing in unison.

Mrs. Cathcart joined in, singing high harmony. Mom set the cake in the middle of the coffee table as they finished the song, then said, Make a wish, Peter.

I made my wish while I leaned over the birthday cake, then quickly blew out the candles before they set my eyebrows on fire.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the party, since it was no different than any other kid’s birthday party, other than the fact that I was the only kid there. Even if I’d had friends to invite, nobody goes to a birthday party on Christmas Eve.

But it was an okay party, despite being just the four of us. Mom really knows how to bake, and had fixed my favorite again, a moist devil’s food cake drowning in thick vanilla frosting, with extra vanilla.

For a change, the gifts were great, too. Most of the presents my parents usually give me don’t exactly fall in the category of fun stuff. Mom always gets me clothes or other necessities, which don’t really count as presents since she was going to have to buy them anyway. Being a scientist like I am, Dad usually bought me pretty neat science things, though they were often more for him than for me; the cool solar system model he’d given me had occupied the top of his file cabinet for two years now.

But this time Dad’s gift was just for me - a huge amethyst geode that he had no interest in at all. As an astronomy professor, he spent all of his time thinking about the fate of the universe, not rocks.

While Mom again hadn’t been able to resist the chance to trim the annual budget by passing clothes off as presents, she did surprise me with a terrific new dinosaur encyclopedia.

Anything Mrs. Cathcart might have given me would have been a complete surprise, since she didn’t really know all that much about me yet. But I guess what she already did know was enough, because buried in the tissue paper was a desktop nameplate for someone named Bob.

I found it at a garage sale, she said with a chuckle. I thought a palindrome enthusiast such as yourself might like it.

Like it? I love it!

Mrs. Cathcart’s smile turned into a yawn. I hate to be a party pooper, but this old lady is fading fast. Thanks, Claire, ‘night, Dr. Gilliam. Thanks for inviting me, Peter, it was fun.

Peter, Mom said, see that Mrs. Cathcart gets home safely, will you?

Even though Mrs. Cathcart was pretty old, she was steady on her feet, even on the slippery sidewalk. A sudden gust of cold wind nearly knocked us over as we hurried down the short strip of concrete between our houses. Looks like it’s gonna be another bad one, she predicted.

I’d sure hate to be homeless tonight, I said as frigid drops of rain pelted the back of my neck.

How thoughtful, she said as she unlocked her front door. "Especially for someone your age.

Thanks for escorting me home, Peter, now hurry home yourself. I’ll watch you from here.

G’night, Mrs. Cathcart, I said as I headed back to the sidewalk. Thanks again for coming to my party. And for the nameplate.

You’re welcome, Peter, good night. And Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you, too! I yelled as I raced back to my house.

We waved to each other from under our porch lights, then both slammed our doors against the approaching storm.

Sacramento doesn’t get all that many storms, and the ones we do get usually aren’t too bad. But the El Nino storm that hit northern California that night was one for the record books.

A while back Dad had explained to me that El Nino is an unusually warm Pacific Ocean current that starts a cycle of hurricane-force storms every few years or so. We’d already had a couple of pretty heavy rainstorms that month, and it looked like the one rapidly building up that night was going to be a lot worse.

After thanking Mom and Dad for the party and the presents, I kissed them goodnight and retreated to my room early. I got into Mom’s first gift, a pair of dumb but warm-looking blue fleece pajamas, then curled up in bed with one of her other presents, my new dinosaur book. By the time I finished reading it and turned out my light, it was well past eleven.

The wind had whistled and moaned the whole time I read, the rain, heavy and unrelenting. But apparently the storm had only been loosening up the rain event, because the wind suddenly started wailing like it was alive. The downpour instantly turned torrential, sheet after hissing sheet spraying across my bedroom window.

Despite the noise, I must have fallen asleep, because I was startled awake by what sounded like a werewolf howling right outside my window. Even though I knew it was just the wind, I pulled the blanket over my head anyway. Then it howled even louder, and I knew there really was something in the back yard.

Dad! I yelled as I raced down the hallway toward their bedroom. There’s something in the yard!

I guess Dad already knew that because he was already in the family room, flashlight in hand. He switched on the back porch light, then opened our sliding glass door, immediately tripling the volume of the storm. And clearly audible even over the deafening deluge were the hair-raising screams of an animal in distress.

A very large animal in distress.

Gerald, what is it? Mom asked, padding up behind me.

Don’t know yet, Dad said as he fanned the flashlight across the back yard. But I think it’s coming from the pool. He played the beam across the deck toward the shallow end - all I could make out was a seething mass of dark, choppy waves. Then he aimed the beam at the deep end, where we saw an even darker mass treading water, emitting desperate cries for help.

Good heavens! Mom said. I think it’s a dog.

Whatever was drowning in our pool didn’t sound like any dog I’d ever heard - the only animals I knew of that could make those kinds of noises were huge predators like mountain lions or bears, both of which lived in the foothills east of town.

Do something! Mom pleaded. It can’t last much longer.

Muttering under his breath, Dad headed out into the downpour. The next thing I knew, I was following him.

We were drenched within seconds, and by the time we got to the deep end I was shivering like crazy. Dad shone the flashlight into the churning water in front of the diving board - centered in the beam was the head of a big black dog, bobbing like a cork and howling for its life.

Peter! Hold the flashlight for me! Dad handed it over, then knelt on the end of the diving board. He held on to it with one hand while he stretched out with the other to try to reach the dog. C’mon, boy! he yelled. Just a little closer!

Its head slid beneath the surface for a heart-stopping second, then popped back up. It tried to dogpaddle toward Dad, but was too weak to do anything but keep afloat.

Then Dad lunged out and grabbed for the dog’s collar. Got him!

He pulled him to the side of the pool, where I tried to help lift

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