Chapter 5 – Elizabeth’s Son
Monday, March 6th, 1995
Dawg looked at the woman driving the car. He didn’t know if he could trust her, but so far she had been kind. She’d even protected him from that man. But then others had been kind and left. Everyone had their reasons. Kurt just didn’t want him around anymore. It had been Gary’s job to care. It had been Dylan’s job, too. He could see that now. He hadn’t really cared at all. Dylan had children. Dylan didn’t need him. Dylan didn’t even like dogs. Jerome. He had always been kind, keeping people from harassing him at the mission. But if that woman did what she had threatened, Jerome might be hurt right now for caring. If Jerome had known… but it was too late for him.
He tried to study this woman that God had sent when he prayed. Her hair fell almost to her elbow, looking black now in the darkness, but it had been a reddish brown when the sun set. Oncoming headlights lit her face again. She seemed unhappy, but not angry. Jesus, where are You sending me now? Is there really a safe place at the end of this trip?
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said, breaking the silence. “I know you wanted to talk to Dylan, but he seemed to be having a bad day. I’ve known him four years, and this is the first time he… we’ve had a disagreement. I guess I’ll give him a few days to cool off and then call Kathy to see if he’s still upset with me. But I don’t regret anything I’ve done today.”
She started going through CD cases with one hand, occasionally lifting one up to look at in the dim light. “Do you like Petra?” She slipped in the CD. “You know it’s hard to see your head nod in the dark while I’m trying to watch the road.”
The music was different than Dylan’s. He tried to concentrate and learn it.
“I get the feeling that I’m going to be giving a lot of monologues.”
He wished he could talk to her. He wished he could ask her about the music. He wished he could ask her what a monologue was and who she would give one to. She had talked to God in the house. He wondered if she knew the answers to his questions. She said she wanted him as a son, but then she didn’t know he was a dog yet. She didn’t know how stupid he was. Maybe if she never knew he was a dog, she would keep caring.
Elizabeth turned up the volume and began singing, letting her voice blend with the band. He listened in amazement. She was singing to the music, and she wasn’t even drunk, just like he had done when he was walking to Dylan’s house.
When the song ended she said, “I hope you don’t mind my singing. I tend to do it quite often, and I don’t think I can give it up. Do you think it will bother you?” She had turned the volume down to talk and reached over to turn it up again.
“No,” he said, right before the music would have drowned him out.
She smiled and glanced at him. “I’m glad. You know, I won’t mind if you sing either.”
He wanted to believe her. Maybe he would try it if he knew the song. Well, maybe not when the car was going so fast. He couldn’t get out of the way if he upset her.
“I think we’ll stop in Louisville for the night. We’ll get a motel room, freshen up and then go get something to eat.” Elizabeth exited the freeway and found a motel. After getting the key, she drove around the building and parked.
He took his guitar and bag and followed her to the room. A small table and two chairs were by the door, but most of the room was filled by the two beds. He stopped just inside the door. What did she want? Jesus, I thought she knew… Didn’t they say at the mission You didn’t like this? But… there’s nowhere, Jesus. Please help me. He waited and watched, unsure if he should go back outside and run.
Elizabeth lifted her suitcase onto a stand and set her two dark bags and her purse on the bed closest to the door. She pointed to the other bed. “That one is yours.”
“Mine?” She was letting him have a bed all to himself?
“No one else is here.” She motioned to it again.
He slowly eased by her, hoping she wasn’t setting a trap for him. He continued watching as he set his things on the bed as she had done.
She bent and withdrew something from one of her bags, lifting it to her face.
He tensed, not sure what it was and how she meant to hurt him with it. A light flashed. It was a camera. He had seen pictures taken at the mission, but he always made sure he stayed out of sight when that was happening.
“I hope you don’t mind. Things will be changing pretty fast for you, I think, and maybe someday you’ll want to look back and…. Maybe not. But I want to remember what you looked like when I first saw you. I know that’s silly, but….” Elizabeth shrugged. Then she raised the camera again.
The light flashed again, and he flinched away as spots appeared in his vision.
“Maybe after we eat I can show you how to use it, and you can take a picture of me,” she offered. She put the camera away. Then she came around the bed and sat on the edge near him. “Sit down. We need to talk a minute.”
Oh no, Jesus, not this. Don’t make me have to leave. He backed away, but his legs hit his bed. He lost his balance and sat with a plop. He stared at her, waiting for the attack.
Elizabeth brought her legs off the floor to fold in front of her on the bed.
She couldn’t attack very quickly from that position. Perhaps she wasn’t going to hurt him. But then sometimes the customers would try to be friendly first, too. He tried to focus on her words, though. She had talked to God. Maybe… maybe she wouldn’t hurt him.
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings or say anything that might offend you.” She glanced at the ceiling for a moment before her gaze rested on him again. “It’s pretty obvious that you haven’t had a home in a while. But now you do, with me. I know there are some things that are hard to keep up when you don’t have any place, but now….” She put her hands to her face for a minute.
She raised her eyes to look into his. “You want to get cleaned up, don’t you? In the morning we can go to the store and get you some new clothes, but for tonight and tomorrow you can… Well, I noticed that you’re almost as tall as me, except you’re thinner. Maybe you could borrow a pair of my jeans, and I have a shirt that could probably pass as a man’s, and… and then we can throw out those things. I promise first thing after breakfast tomorrow we’ll find a store and buy you all new clothes, so it’s not like you’d be losing anything right?”
She rolled away from him to stand on the other side of the bed. Then she opened her suitcase, pulling out jeans and a tan velour pullover shirt. “I don’t suppose you could….” She lifted out a pair of bikini underwear. “No, I guess not. You’ll just have to do without underwear for a day.” She took out her shampoo and soap and turned to him. “Don’t be afraid to shampoo a couple times. Take your time. I’m sorry. I….” She looked away again. “Will you?”
He understood now. She wanted him clean. He wasn’t sure what would come next, but at least he would be clean and have these newer clothes if he was forced to run from her. He took the clothes and soaps and went into the bathroom, locking the door. He would not let her surprise him. Then… then… Jesus. I’m scared. Maybe it won’t hurt… sometimes it didn’t…. But… but they said at the mission… they said….
He concentrated on cleaning himself. Dylan didn’t like him because he smelled like a dog. Maybe he could not smell. Could a dog not smell like a dog? He spent a half hour trying to remove the grime and smell from his body. Maybe if he looked like a normal person… maybe if….
He emerged, wearing her clothes. He relaxed when he noticed her sitting in one of the chairs by the table.
She looked up from whatever she’d been studying and smiled. “I set a comb on the counter over there for you.”
He glanced down at the large toothed comb. She expected him to use it on his hair. He didn’t want to do anything to make her angry, so he sat on the edge of his bed and struggled with it. It was hard to stay focused on her. He caught a movement, and jumped up to be ready for whatever she planned.
Elizabeth walked to her suitcase and took out a pair of white socks. “I forgot about your feet. Here.” She tossed them to his bed. Then she took off her tennis shoes. “See if these fit you. Tomorrow we’ll get you some of your own.” She slowly came toward him and placed the shoes on his bed. Then she went back to the suitcase.
“You want me to wear your shoes?”
“Yours look like they don’t keep out much cold or anything else.”
“But what will you wear?”
Elizabeth pulled out a pair of thin black shoes. “See, I have more. I’ll just have to change my socks.” She grabbed some and sat on her bed to change.
It must be all right. He sat and pulled the socks over his callused and scarred feet. Then he put on her shoes. They were a little tight, but he really didn’t notice it. She had given him the shoes off her feet, and she wasn’t upset that he was wearing them.
“I didn’t think to bring my winter coat in from the car. You have to bring everything with you when you travel this time of year. It’s a dark green so you might prefer it to this mint green jacket. All you really need to do now is blow dry your hair, and we can eat.” She motioned to the blow dryer that was on the mirrored counter that the comb had been on.
He obediently went back to the mirror. It didn’t look like she was going to hurt him yet, and he started to relax.
“Have you ever thought of cutting your hair?”
He tensed again and stared at her. Maybe he’d been wrong.
“Don’t be offended. People ask me that all the time, too. I don’t think I will, but I bet you would look pretty good with it kind of collar length, you know.” Elizabeth held her hand up to her own hair near her neck. “And with that wave, I know my sister, Robin, would love to style your hair.”
He held the blow dryer motionless and continued to stare at her. What did she want from him?
“Oh well, just a thought.” Elizabeth went back to the table where she had been when he had come out of the shower.
He looked into the mirror, studying his reflection and working on his hair. Would it really look better shorter? Did it matter what a dog looked like? That woman had wanted it long. It made it easier to catch him. But he didn’t have to do what she wanted anymore. Unless Elizabeth found out and took him back. When he had done as much as he could he turned off the dryer.
Elizabeth got up from the chair. “Well, let’s go,” she said, grabbing her jacket.
As they got in the car Elizabeth told him to get the coat from the back seat and use it. He obeyed. He’d never had a coat as nice as this. It would be a lot warmer if he had to run.
She took him to a small restaurant. There weren’t many people there, and they sat in a booth in the corner. When they were seated he realized that they were too close. It would not be hard for her to lean over and knock him in the head if he did something she didn’t like.
Elizabeth reached over the table, and he flinched. But she just picked up two menus that were sticking out of a metal stand on the far edge of the table. She handed one to him and opened the other.
He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to do what she did or wait. He decided to act like a human. He opened the menu. There were no pictures. He could only interpret a few words, and they weren’t food words.
“See anything you like?”
Did she really care what he wanted? He looked around the room, hoping he could find an acceptable answer for her.
“To eat. Anything on the menu you’d like to eat?”
He cringed. He couldn’t please her. He knew it. He decided to change the subject. “I… I… no money.”
“I assumed that. When I decided to take you home as my son that meant that I would be responsible to make sure you were clothed and fed. You don’t have to worry about those things anymore. Just pick out whatever you want to eat from the menu, and I’ll pay for it.” The waitress came to take their order. “Are you ready?” Elizabeth asked him.
“Go ahead. Tell her what you want.”
He couldn’t. He didn’t want anything, except to really be her son, like she had said. But now she would know he was stupid and not worth it.
Finally she said, “I think we need a few more moments.” The waitress left. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. Do you want me to read the menu?”
He shook his head, wondering where he could go to hide. But her voice was soft. She wasn’t angry yet.
“Do you want me to get you lasagna like I’m getting?”
He agreed, hoping she’d keep her soft voice.
The waitress came back, and she placed the order. When she left Elizabeth asked, “How old are you really? I know you are probably not sixteen.”
He shook his head. How could he tell her that he didn’t know? That he had never had a birthday. She already knew he was too stupid to read.
“It’s okay,” she said, still keeping her voice soft. “You can tell me.”
The waitress brought their drinks and salads.
Elizabeth thanked her, bowed her head, and talked to God again, thanking Him for their food.
Jesus, she talked to You again. She does know what they said at the mission, doesn’t she? It’s safe with her, isn’t it? He watched her begin eating, before he picked up his fork.
“Can you tell me your name yet? I don’t need a full name. Just something besides ‘hey you’.”
He couldn’t tell her. He didn’t want her to call him a dog and look at him that way. Please Lord, I don’t want to be a dog. I want to be human. I want to be her son, like she said. Please. He shook his head.
“Can you give me a name that you might like me to call you? I can’t very well introduce you to people as, ‘And this is my son, hey you.’”
It was better than hey Dawg. He wondered if she would ever have named him Dawg. “What would you name me?” He cringed, realizing he’d spoken out loud.
She smiled. “You want me to name you?” She wasn’t angry. Her voice was still soft.
He nodded. Please Jesus, don’t let her say Dawg. Anything but that.
“I suppose that is a mother’s job. Let me think.” Elizabeth’s smile seemed to reach into her eyes. He hoped she would look at him like that often and use her soft voice toward him.
The waitress brought the lasagna and some garlic bread. Again she thanked the waitress. He had lasagna at school, but this was far different from what they had called lasagna. He burnt his mouth. He didn’t expect it to be so hot.
She watched him with the same soft smile. “There’s no hurry.”
When they were almost finished eating, Elizabeth said, “What do you think of David Timothy?”
“As your name.”
Oh God, it’s wonderful. It’s not Dawg. It’s…. “Yes.”
“So, I may call you David?”
“My son, David. I like that.”
“So do I.” Did he say that out loud? But look how happy she is.
“Do you want to hear about the names?”
About them? He shrugged.
“David was the second king of Israel, the many times grandfather of Jesus. He was called a man after God’s own heart, and his name means beloved. David was also a musician, which I assume that since you carry a guitar around you have a passing interest in music. David played the harp and wrote most of the book of Psalms in the Bible. Psalms just means songs.
“Timothy means honored of God. The apostle Paul wrote Timothy two letters which are a part of the Bible. In the first he calls him a true son in the faith and in the second a beloved son. Timothy himself was a minister of the Gospel at a young age. What do you think?”
She named him beloved and honored of God. She named him after a King and a minister, a beloved son. He was just a dog, and she named him so greatly. His eyes become hot. He tried to rub them with the back of his hand so they wouldn’t betray him, but he saw that she already knew. Now she would start to tease him.
But she didn’t. Elizabeth grabbed her purse and pulled out a couple dollars, setting them on the table next to her plate. Then she stood and grabbed the check. “I’ll go pay this, David. Come along when you’re ready.”
She called him David! He got up and followed immediately. Did You hear her, Jesus? Let me always be David Timothy. I want to be beloved and honored of God. Don’t let me be a dog anymore.
Go to Chapter 6
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.