Sure was good to see Jimmy back from the Middle East last week. He looks good in that uniform, too. He was running all over the place for a few days, visiting everyone he knows, but he finally came in to the Mule Barn and sat at the philosophy counter, headquarters of the world dilemma think tank, to be with us.
“Must be good to be home,” Doc said.
“You bet,” Jimmy said. “But it isn’t the same as it was.”
We thought about that. Thought back over the year he’d been gone. A few new babies born, a few old-timers gone to rest. Oh yes, they finally filled that pothole in front of the drugstore. But that was about it.
“What do you mean it isn’t the same, Jimmy?”
“This is going to sound funny to you guys,” he said, “but all that time over there, I kept thinking about how nice it was going to be to get out in the woods at night again with Ed Lakey and the dogs and go coon hunting, you know? It was so hot over there, I tried to remember what it felt like to wear Carhartt coveralls and feel that cold night air and hear those hounds bawling and running down along the river. Oh man, that was one of the things that kept me going.”
He looked at us and his mind came back home there for a minute. “Of course, I missed you guys, too. Thought about you a lot.”
“Well, sure you did,” Doc said.
“Anyway,” Jimmy said, “I got home and the first thing I did … well, almost the first thing I did… was call Ed and tell him I needed to get in the woods, and how about he throws those dogs in the truck, you know, and we’ll go hunting? He told me he was sorry, but he didn’t have a single hound any more. Had to quit coon hunting for good.
“Well, you know Ed. He lives to go hunting with those dogs, so I asked him what happened. He said his wife was upset at him for spending so much time with those dogs and not with her. She said he loved those dogs more than he loved her and she told him either the dogs would have to go or she would.
“So Ed said, ‘Doggonit, Jimmy. I flipped a coin and the dogs lost.'”
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