Bugs is acting strangely. He’s a large white and black dog who is right now busily and awkwardly dancing on a small patch of lawn. The lawn bumps up to endless alfalfa fields and clusters of locust trees that smell sweet and clean in the desert spring.
My grandfather, who we call kids Lancaster, is walking slowly toward his dog.
Lancaster lives and raises turkeys with my grandmother on the Mojave Desert in California, a very long time ago.
I’m 5 years old and wearing a stiff white and yellow organdy dress.
My sister Polly at 3, is wearing the same.
We have little fake, pastel flowers on a band around our heads.
It’s Easter and we are wearing our new Easter dresses along with little white shoes and silky white socks with lace.
My grandmother is inside the house, roasting turkeys. Grandma is always roasting turkeys. She says it’s because the big birds are continually falling ill and toppling over dead in their pens.
Grandma says, “Why should dead turkeys go to waste; better to eat them.”
There are always a number of roasted turkeys reclining on platters in every room of their hot desert home.
We think this is normal.
We think everything about our lives is normal. What do we know? We are little kids.
This is the first Easter I remember having a new Easter dress and later I can’t remember ever having one, again.
I think we are going to church. Which is an unusual occurrence, too. I think we are showing our new clothes to Lancaster. I know we are enjoying our scratchy, delightful dresses and the flowers around our heads.
I don’t know why we have come outside to watch a dog dance but I do remember the outcome.
Lancaster is calling Bugs’s name. He’s also carrying a huge pair of rusty pliers in one of his large hands.
Our father comes outside.
“Dad!” he’s shouting, “Has that damn dog been eating dead turkey feet, again?”
“Awwwh! Bugs! Come here,” our grandfather calls out to his dog.
Lancaster is a handsome man, an ex-marine who lets us hang off his muscled arms. He is a kind man and a sweet man. He’s sensitive and good to people and animals.
He gets close to Bugs and grabs him.
Lancaster expertly flips him over onto the grass.
He lifts the dog’s long bushy tail and takes a close look at his anus.
Polly and I are intrigued and gather close. We peer at Bugs’s bottom.
Lancaster takes his heavy pliers and begins pulling at something. Bugs yelps.
Lancaster lifts the pliers to the sun for inspection.
“Yes,” he says, “he’s been eating turkey feet, again. Look at the size of this turkey toenail!”
Our father leans close.
“He’s the damndest dog,” our father says. “Those giant talons must hurt like hell when he’s trying to pass them. He never learns.”
Every year when other people think about Easter and Jesus being Resurrected, Amen and the Glory of God and Life Everlasting, I think about organdy dresses, fake hair flowers and Bugs trying to poop out turkey talons.
Which just goes to show that everyone sees religion differently and it’s time we all got used to that.
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