Buster the houseguest, the world’s biggest golden retriever, is calming down. He still pants too much. He’s still worried that his owner, the Other Alan, will never come back for him. But he’s a smart dog. In just a couple of days, he’s learning the rhythms of our household, knows you can’t yank your hostess off her feet without paying for it with some serious heeling and obedience work, knows if you come when you’re called you get a biscuit, knows that if you lie quietly next to the bed and don’t pant, you get to stay in the bedroom, if not exactly on the bed itself.
And I’m learning the trick to keeping a dog this size is to run him off his feet. Unfortunately, we were only able to do that Saturday, when we went up to the lake to open the cottage and put in the dock. This meant two hours of dry fetch and two hours of wet fetch, enough workout for a superbly conditioned retriever in the prime of life, although my arm is sore.
That might be from being yanked off my feet, too. The Other Alan has owned a succession of goldens, and trains them all the same way — they take walks off the leash, and are trained to stop at street corners, wait for the person to catch up, and then heel across the street. On the other side, they’re free to romp ahead again.
I can’t do this, sorry. This is a very expensive dog, and no way am I trusting him to stop at Rudisill Boulevard, so an on-leash walk it is. Unfortunately, he knows: Walkies that pass by a body of water = wet fetch! The Other Alan lives near a nice pond ideally suited for this. I live near the St. Marys River, not suited for this. He saw the river and bolted; I braced; he hit the end of the leash; I went down like an amateur water skier. Many grass stains, much swearing. I made him heel for the next half mile.
He goes home tomorrow. I will miss his silky head, his expressive face, his great flews filling like parachutes when he sticks his head out the car window, his deep voice, the way he doesn’t mind if you use him for a footrest, and improvising dialogue between him and Spriggy using a very deep voice for Buster and a high squeaky one for Sprig. I will not miss the bowel movements the size of canned hams (nothing like a big dog to make you appreciate a little one), his constant anxious panting or the walks that resemble playing a marlin in the Gulf Stream. We will all be relieved.
It feels good to be doing some labor outside again. On Saturday, at the lake, we raked and burned leaves, cut the grass, ran the trimmer, moved stuff around, did this and that. On Sunday, I hung storm windows and other stuff. What I didn’t do is spend much time in front of the computer, so I’m very grateful to Kirk for passing along the following story. I don’t know about you, but there are few things more satisfying to read than a story that starts like this:
A prominent Republican fund-raiser who once said former President Bill Clinton was "a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation’s young people" pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court to production of child pornography.
I mean: Snicker. The rest of the story.
For those readers who used to live here — and there are a few — the news of the upcoming week is this: Kevin Hough is finally getting the needle. May 2, if all goes as planned, which it may not. In typical wheels-of-justice fashion, the execution comes not quite 18 years after he iced a gay couple in West Central, just a few days after torturing and murdering another man. He was a one-man wrecking crew and as bad-to-the-bone E-vil as murder defendants come, as I recall. His final hearing before the Indiana Parole Board was last week, and contained this amazing statement: He said he didn’t kill anyone. Not: I’m a changed man, the usual spare-my-life-please defense, but I’m innocent. The stories don’t record whether anyone on the board did a spit take over that whopper, but it was mentioned in their unanimous rejection of his final appeal. This guy was so guilty the jury did everything but chant "guilty guilty guilty" when they read the verdict, although he was right about one thing — he had idiots for counsel. At one point, the victim’s sister testified that a certain ring found in Hough’s possession when he was arrested was, indeed, her brother’s. He wore two, she said; that one was missing when he was found dead.
Somehow, Hough’s attorney got them mixed up. He strolled up with a photo of the corpse wearing the ring he thought she’d said was missing. "You mean this one?" he crowed, flashing this picture of her brother’s dead staring face, his hand next to it.
"No!" she cried, bursting into tears. "The other one!"
Oh, the guy said, sitting down. I think the judge actually rolled his eyes. But it wasn’t enough for appeal.
Of course, Alex, has a story:
Did I ever tell you about my close encounter with Hough? He used to be a Pearl Street whore, though straight. There were a few like that. …In the weeks before (the victims) were murdered, I’d noticed Hough as one of a group of toughs who’d started working the strip. At that time the Pearl and Fulton circuit was getting overrun with straights who were gay prostituting–aggressive, nasty guys who accosted quite a few sissies to let them know this was their turf now.
One night, in front of what was known as the Old Forge, hothead Hough nearly decked a dopey teenager I was dating at the time, a guy named Tom. We were standing out front together–I think it was because they decided to card that night and Tom was all of maybe 16. So Hough comes over to us and says, "You know, you freaks make me laugh. You make me sick, you sick motherfuckers… ."
Tom, my none-too-streetwise companion, replied, "This is my boyfriend and he’ll kick your ass." I told Tom, right then and there, "You pick a fight with this guy and you’re on your own." Hough made a few more disparaging comments, then went back to his business on the street.
I gave Tom quite a scolding. And when Hough’s picture was on the front page two weeks later, I thanked my lucky stars we weren’t his first double homicide.
Alex has a book in him "Fort Wayne Fag: Queer in Quayle Country." He knows it, I know it, we all know it. One of these days, he’ll write it.
Me, I’ll see you tomorrow.