Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Day Andy Vanished From the Face of the Earth

A few days after the beach trip, I took the babies to a park in the west Raleigh area. The park was located at Lake Johnson and is part of the Raleigh Greenway system. The paved portion of the trail is about 2 miles or maybe more around the southern end of the lake. The unpaved portion is about a mile around the northern portion of the lake. Most of the park users stick around the paved trail portion. One added benefit of that particular trail is the number of co-eds running on the trail, since the NCSU campus is relatively close by.

On the day I took the babies to the park, the weather was mild and sunny. When I took the babies out of the car, no more than 2 minutes had passed when a woman about my age made conversation with me about Andy. Andy was so damned pretty and was an awesome chick magnet.

Other than the conversation I had in the parking lot and the weather, I didn’t remember much else about the trip except for the trauma that ensued about a mile into the trip. We stepped off the paved portion of the trail and got a little closer to the lake. Other park users had worn a footpath a few feet from the lakes edge. I led the babies along the trail. We went up a small hill and desecended on the other side. At the top of that little hill was about a four or five foot drop to the water surface.

What happened next burned an impression on my memory that will be hard to erase. I heard a “plunk” sound. I looked back and saw Abby standing there but Andy was gone. I looked in the water and saw no signs of him. There were no waves, ripples or bubbles. Nothing. The water in that lake is a dark almost inky black color. Something an inch below the surface would vanish from site.

I nearly panicked. I had to do something. My mom loved that dog. I mean really loved him. If he died, I was going to be in a shitload of trouble. I had to go get him. I took off my coat, put it on the ground, and removed my keys and wallet, placing them on my coat. Just as I took a step towards the water, Andy popped his head above the surface and bolted out of the lake. In those few seconds it took me to prepare myself for jumping in the lake, dozens of thoughts went through my head. What would I tell my mom? How would I tell her? Should I drop Abby off, gather my belongings and head straight to NJ? How far down should I go to find him? Would he suffer? My mom’s heart was going to be broken, then she would kill me.

Just as I took a step towards the lake to take the plunge, Andy’s head popped above the water, and he bolted out of the water. My baby boy made it through. He was strong and powerful when he surfaced. He must have been underwater for 10 seconds. In my mind, time seemed to stand still. I kneeled down and hugged him. Abby was happy, too. She was always attuned to my emotions. She could tell I was in a state of panic, so she was relieved everyone was back to normal.

I took hold of their leashes, immediately returned to the paved trail, and took that long walk back to the car. My t-shirt was soaked. The trip back was cold. Andy was safe. That was all that mattered. This wouldn’t be the last time I was negligent in my care of Andy. I should never have let him off his leash. I should have never walked so close to a part of the lake where there wasn’t a beach.

It would also not be his last brush with death.

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