Andrew Jackson, or the bird of him, set me on firm ground and pointed me toward a faint light.
“Just head toward that, Miss Betsy,” he said and I admit, the way he said “Miss Betsy” made me understand something about Rachel that I hadn’t previously. It was an understanding one carried for the rest of her life deep in her core. No, lower. A little lower. Right there.
Anyway, I walked toward the light, which, though it seemed impossibly far away, ended up being rather close and small. It was, upon further examination, a tiny campfire surrounded by dejected fleas. Some of them were tossing protest signs onto the minute flames. One of the signs said, “Baths are for Commies and Bad Dogs.” Another said, “Take Back the TV Remote.”
Damn it. These were Rufus’s fleas.
“Why aren’t you guys with the dog?” I asked.
They rolled their eyes and pointed beyond the fire. Though it was still dark, I could just make out water ahead—a river.
“Did he swim across?” I asked. They nodded.
I’ll spare you the details of what I saw on that shore. But I will say this: as much as I hate fleas, something about seeing thousands of their corpses washed up on the river bank made me sad.
Still, I waded into the river and, when it got deep enough, swam across, after my stupid dog.
The “Baths are for Bad Dogs and Commies” sign-carrying fleas are an homage to Sam’s coworkers. Just thought I’d make that obvious, though I’m sure some of you recognized it.