Page 42

his look softened, as if he was surprised to find Jeremy sitting there and not someone else.

these days; he got too agitated with them, and all the chores on the ranch consumed him more than ever.

“You just have them dogs ready to go in the morning, son,” Pop said. “We’ll see if she can point or if she can’t.”

It wrecked Jeremy to see the dogs stuck in cages, so he wore them out on runs when they were restless.

M

cClintock. That had been Jeremy’s last name, his father’s last name, until Pop took him down to the courthouse and changed it after Mom died. Pop rode him pretty hard, as if he were trying to whup something out of him, some bad thing in his bloodline. Since that day at the courthouse, Pop had never again said the name McClintock. When a dog wouldn’t come around, or got too old, when a dog had used up its last chance with Pop, Pop drove off with that dog and came back alone. Before Mom died two summers back, she told him about a dog that bit him as a child. She said she’d never seen Pop so angry. Yes, Pop worked him hard, she insisted, but it was out of love. You had to earn your meals on a farm. It was years before Jeremy figured out that every time Mom snuck him out to the movies and a Mexican restaurant, it meant one of the dogs would be gone when they got back.

A

t first light he went to the pens. One by one he slid a metal dish full of wet canned food under the fences. He took turns letting them out to stretch their legs. Pop didn’t approve of comforting dogs—dogs served one purpose and that was to hunt. But his grandfather spent less time with the dogs

40

FA L L 2 014

After corralling the last of the dogs into the fences, he collared up Winnie and Ripley and met Pop by the stone road that led east to the river. Pop finished racking the twenty gauges for the hunt and came over to scratch Ripley’s neck. “There you are.” Pop mulled something—the same furrowed look he made when he tried his hand at the accounting. “What’s this dog’s name again?” “That’s Ripley, Pop.” “Hell, I knew that.” He roughed up the dog’s ears. “You know this old boy has been with me a long while. He used to cover a hundred yards like it was the space between a hungry man and the refrigerator.” “A good pointing dog, too,” Jeremy said. “You’re telling Noah about rising water.” Pop slapped Ripley hard on the side. “Ain’t that right, you old rebel? Let’s move out, anyhow,” Pop said. “Ride in the back with the dogs.” Pop didn’t want dirty fingers on the leather. The seats weren’t shiny leather, but lived-in leather like a pair of cattleman’s gloves. It came that way. Pop can’t live without a new truck, Jeremy’s mom used to say. Approaching the quail coveys, he held the dogs near him and listened to the tires on the long, flat stones they’d laid one backbreaking offseason through the ranch. Pop drove faster than he should, and here and there the stones jostled them violently. Jeremy held onto the dogs. He told Winnie to watch Ripley when they got to the coveys. He told her to hold her point and don’t do anything stupid.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS

Profile for University of Memphis

Fall2014  

University of Memphis Fall Magazine

Fall2014  

University of Memphis Fall Magazine