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2006-07-23 16:32

  Afreezing downpour washed the black asphalt1 street in front of the small-town bar. I sat gazing into the watery darkness, alone as usual. Across the rain-drenched2 roadway was the town park: five acres of grass, giant elm trees and, tonight, an ankle-deep covering of cold water.

  I had been in that battered3 old pub for half an hour, quietly nursing4 a drink, when my thoughtful stare finally focused on a medium-sized lump5 in a grassy puddle6 a hundred feet away. For another ten minutes, I looked out through the tear-streaked7 windowpane trying to decide if the lump was an animal or just a wet and inanimate8 something.

  The night before, a German shepherd looking mongrel9 had come into the bar begging for potato chips. He was mangy10 and starving and just the size of the lump in question. Why would a dog lie in a cold puddle in the freezing rain? I asked myself. The answer was simple: Either it wasn't a dog, or if it was, he was too weak to get up.

  The shrapnel11 wound in my right shoulder ached all the way down to my fingers. I didn't want to go out in that storm. Hey, it wasn't my dog; it wasn't anybody's dog. It was just a stray on a cold night in the rain,a lonely drifter12.So am I,I thought, as I tossed down13 what was left of my drink and headed out the door.

  He was lying in three inches of water. When I touched him,he didn't move. I thought he was dead. I put my hands around his chest and hoisted14 him to his feet. He stood un steadily in the puddle, his head hung like a weight at the end of his neck. Half his body was covered with mange. His floppy15 ears were just hairless pieces of flesh dotted with open sores.

  " Come on," I said, hoping I wouldn't have to carry his infected carcass16 to shelter. His tail wagged once and he plodded17 weakly after me. I led him to an alcove18 next to the bar, where he lay on the cold cement and closed his eyes.

  A block away I could see the lights of a late-night convenience store. It was still open. I bought three cans of Alpo and stuffed them into my leather coat. I was wet and ugly and the clerk looked relieved as I left. The race-type exhausts on my old Harley-Davidson rattled19 the windows in the bar as I rode back to the bar.

  The barmaid opened the cans for me and said the dog's name was Shep. She told me he was about a year old and that his owner had gone to Germany and left him on the street. He ate all three cans of dog food with an awe-inspiring20 singleness of purpose. I wanted to pet him, but he smelled like death and looked even worse." Good luck," I said, then got on my bike and rode away.

  The next day I got a job driving a dump truck for a small paving company. As I hauled21 a load of gravel22 through the center of town, I saw Shep standing on the sidewalk near the bar. I yelled to him and thought I saw his tail wag. His reaction made me feel good.

  After work I bought three more cans of Alpo and a cheeseburger. My new friend and I ate dinner together on the sidewalk. He finished his first.

  The next night, when I brought his food, he welcomed me with wild enthusiasm. Now and then, his malnourished23 legs buckled24 and he fell to the pavement. Other humans had deserted him and mistreated him, but now he had a friend and his appreciation was more than obvious.

  I didn't see him the next day as I hauled load after load up the main street past the bar. I wondered if someone had taken him home.

  After work I parked my black Harley on the street and walked down the sidewalk looking for him. I was afraid of what I would find. He was lying on his side in an alley nearby. His tongue hung out in the dirt and only the tip of his tail moved when he saw me.

  The local veterinarian25 was still at his office, so I borrowed a pickup truck from my employer and loaded the limp mongrel into the cab. " Is this your dog?" the vet asked after checking the pitiful specimen26 that lay helplessly on his examining table.

  " No," I said, " he's just a stray."

  " He's got the beginnings of distemper27," the vet said sadly. " If he doesn't have a home, the kindest thing we can do is put him out of his misery."

  I put my hand on the dog's shoulder. His mangy tail thumped28 weakly against the stainless steel table.I sighed loudly. " He's got a home," I said.

  For the next three nights and two days, the dog——I named him Shep——lay on his side in my apartment. My roommate and I spent hours putting water in his mouth and trying to get him to swallow a few scrambled eggs. He couldn't do it, but whenever I touched him, his tail wagged slightly at the very tip.

  At about 10 A.M. on the third day, I went home to open the apartment for the telephone installer. As I stepped through the door, I was nearly flattened by a jumping, wiggling mass of euphoric29 mutt. Shep had recovered.

  With time, the mangy starving dog that nearly died in my living room grew into an eighty-pound block of solid muscle, with a massive chest and a super-thick coat of shiny black fur. Many times, when loneliness and depression have nearly gotten the best of me, Shep has returned my favor by showering me with his unbridled friendship until I had no choice but to smile and trade my melancholy30 for a fast game of fetch-the-stick.

  When I look back, I can see that Shep and I met at the low point of both of our lives. But we aren't lonely drifters anymore. I'd say we've both come home.























  1.asphalt n.柏油

  2.rain-drenched adj.雨水浸泡的

  3.batter vt.磨损,损坏

  4.nurse vt.慢慢地喝(或吃)

  5.lump n.块

  6.puddle n.(污)水坑,泥潭


  8.inanimate adj.无生命的

  9.mongrel n.杂种狗

  10.mangy adj.患(兽)疥癣的

  11.shrapnel n.炮弹碎片

  12.drifter n.漂泊者


  14.hoist vt.提起,举起

  15.floppy adj.[口]松软的,下垂的

  16.carcass n.躯体

  17.plod vi.沉重缓慢地走

  18.alcove n.凹室

  19.rattle vi.碰撞作声,发格格声


  21.haul vt.运送

  22.gravel n.砂砾,砾石

  23.malnourished adj.营养不良的

  24.buckle vi.坍塌,垮下

  25.veterinarian n.[美]兽医

  26.specimen n.怪物

  27.distemper n.[兽医]犬热病

  28.thump vi.重击,嘭地作响

  29.euphoric adj.心情愉快的

  30.melancholy n.忧郁,愁思


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