by Grethel Joseph

Bass lived in the village of Paix-Bouche with his caretaker Hu-Hu. He was a thin, brownish and frolicsome mongrel who always seemed to be on the move. Although he was often teased by the other dogs and treated with disdain by those of Hu-hu’s kind, Bass always seemed happy and bubbly.

Hu-hu was a very busy woman. She had to wake early every day to tend to her farm animals quite a distance away from the house. She would then return home to prepare herself for her second job at the grocery store where she packed shelves. Hu-hu had very little time to spend with Bass during the day. Sometimes Bass would go along with her to the farm. Other days he simply would not feel like going.

Bass usually spent evenings with Hu-hu and he cherished these moments. He would stretch out his front paws and rest his head sideways while listening to Hu-Hu’s singing as she prepared dinner. He especially enjoyed his meals when she cooked chicken. Today she was preparing chicken sauce and Bass laid there drooling from the aroma.

"What have you been up to today Bassie?" asked Hu-Hu as she sat in an old chair next to him.

Bass stiffened himself a bit. He knew that he had done the forbidden. He had gone down to the garbage dump and was sure that Hu-Hu would not be pleased. She had always warned him about going down there. Hu-Hu looked at Bass and sensed that he had done something naughty.

"The garbage dump!" she exclaimed. "Perhaps I should cut down on your chicken sauce tonight," she threatened, pointing the old wooden spoon at him. Hu-Hu had always feared that Bass would be crushed by the big machines at the dump, for after all, he was the smallest of the group of stray, meandering, mean-spirited dogs whom Bass called his friends.

But when Bass whined, Hu-hu surrendered. His brown pleading eyes brought a sense of warmth and peace to her tired soul. She parted his fur and promised to make him a tasty chicken stew the following day. He was her only companion and after spending so much time away from him all day, she always made special efforts to please him.

Early the next morning, Hu-hu left home to take care of the animals. It was one of those days when Bass simply did not feel like going to the farm. As soon as she closed the door behind her, Bass was on his feet. He went straight to the bowl of warm milk which Hu-Hu left for him in the corner near the stove.

Today he was on a mission. He had to leave home early to beat the other dogs at it. Bass was tired of being the underdog. Today he would be early.

He then jumped on Hu-Hu’s bed and peered out the window. "Ahh, today is a perfect day," he thought. The sun was rising brightly, the sky was clear. It was going to be the day that he had imagined. No longer would the stray dogs taunt him for being so small and skinny and clumsy. He would be first. By the time they arrived, he would have the entire dump well mapped out; he would know where to find the best of the goodies and maybe even find a few minutes to eat a couple of pieces. “Today I will be king!” he exclaimed.

Bass briskly jumped out the window and made his way through a shortcut behind his house. In a few minutes he was at the crossroads near the old shed where Fletch usually slept. Fletch was one of the biggest mongrels in town and he had a way of claiming the best pieces at the dump. "What if Fletch sees me going so early," Bass wondered. He immediately quickened his pace. Nothing would thwart his plan.

Suddenly there was the sound of sharp brakes. “Get off the road you useless creature” screamed a driver. Bass woke up from his deep thought and realized that he was really close to the front tire of Mr. Joe’s car.

"I should be more careful," thought Bass as he continued down the street, wagging his tail vigorously. On his way, a few other dogs barked at him. Most of them were bigger dogs but he didn’t mind. They were either tied or behind huge fences. Bass even stopped at one point to make faces at one dog who barked at him angrily. "You will never get me," Bass growled and off he went. He was in high spirits.

Now Bass was approaching the dump. It appeared that some fresh loads had already been laid out for him. He skipped from side to side with his tongue out drooling as he arrived. "Where shall I begin?" he wondered. Just then he spotted a can. He was sure that it was his favorite chicken sausage. He remembered that label from a dented can which Hu-hu had brought him from the supermarket.

Now that certainly made things much easier for Bass. He had a starting point for his dump exploration. As if in a trance, Bass moved towards the can. "That chicken sausage smell is so enchanting," drooled Bass. With a little effort he dipped his face into the can. It was slightly painful as the can was a little narrow compared to his face but for chicken sausage Bass would bear anything.

Well, there was not a whole lot of sausage in the can, but the smell and a few licks of the sauce meant a lot to Bass. "Now for the big hunt," he thought. Bass tried shaking off the can from his face but to his amazement, the can stayed put. "Wow, I can’t see anything," thought Bass. His entire face was in the can. "Okay, I will just roll over and pull this off with my paw," he reasoned. On to his back he went and he started to push the can off his face. The can wouldn’t budge. Bass started to panic. He then began to run around in circles while shaking his head. Bass was becoming dizzy but the can did not move.

"Calm down Bassie," he comforted himself as he continued to make several more attempts to pull the can from his face. His efforts were futile. "Oh No," thought Bass. His friends and the other stray dogs would soon be arriving and they would surely jeer. Fletch, Frappy, Buster, Sticky Fingers, Sleek… he counted. "Think! Bass, think!" This only led him to imagine the situation getting worse when the dump workers arrived. They were experts at stone throwing and name calling. "No, no, I can’t be seen like this," he thought as he danced frantically around in circles. He had to get out of there.

At this moment Bass had no idea of which direction he was facing. But he began to run. He ran as fast as he could. His body grazed and knocked against a number of objects but he still could not figure out where exactly he was. One thing he knew for sure was that he was not in the dump. The ground beneath his feet felt too sturdy; the dump ground was mushy.

Bam! Bass had no idea what he had hit but he found himself lying on the ground with a sharp pain to the head. "Could this be the trunk of the old palm tree near Oily’s Garage?" he wondered. If only he could find a clue.

Then the unthinkable happened. He heard someone laughing. "Jecka, Jecka, come see this!" It was a dump worker called Alfredo. His harsh voice was calling out to another dump worker.

"Oh no, my worst nightmare," sighed Bass. Jecka always pelted the biggest rocks at Bass and the other dogs. Bass had no choice but to quicken his pace into the land of the unknown. Just moments later he heard the sound of Jecka’s boots coming towards him. Off went Bass. Then he heard the sound of a large object as it landed close to him.

"Get out of here you sick dog!" shouted Jecka while Alfredo continued in deep laughter.

Bass was panting. It was difficult navigating through the bushes where he had landed, but he only paused when he could no longer hear the men’s laughter. "Better the river than Jecka," sighed Bass when he heard the sound of water flowing. "Gonna have to jump in, should take me to the heart of Paix-Bouche," thought Bass.

As he approached the river, Bass made other attempts at pulling out the can. He was not going to give up. He was determined to get home safely. The early morning water was cold but he felt a bit more secure. He walked in the water and at times swam in small basins. Then came the fall. "Wooof!" shouted bass as he felt himself falling from the top of a waterfall. Bass made a splash as he landed in the pool below. He was frightened. He swam to the edge of the pool and quickly shook the water off the can.

"How did I get myself into this?" he whined with a tear in his eyes. If only I had listened to Hu-hu. Bass continued his journey walking in the water. His attempts to walk on the edge of the river had resulted in many bumps on trees and stones. His falls were many along the way and the can continued to splash water into his eyes and nose. Still, Bass remained hopeful.

Then he heard voices. He became excited yet alarmed. Could it be Alfredo and Jecker? He paused at a stone, lying low for a moment as he listened to the voices. "These are young folks," he concluded. Bass whimpered. He had to get their attention. Bass tried to bark. He could hardly hear himself. The sound of the river drowned his already can-stifled bark. "Oh dear!" thought Bass, "What shall I do?" All of a sudden, Bass started to jump vigorously with all the strength he had in him. Up and down, up and down he went in a small pool.

Bass heard footstep approaching him. He continued jumping and hoped that it was a friendly bunch. He felt a pair of hands holding on to him and he surrendered like a baby. As the can came off his face, the world around him appeared more beautiful than it ever had before. Bass licked the hands of the two young boys who carried him out of the water. He did not know the boys but he playfully ran around their legs and licked their feet with gratitude.

"Oh thank you, thank you," barked Bass as he raised his front paws onto one of the boys. His little tail wagged even more with his show of appreciation.

"Okay now little fella," said one of the boys, "Better be on your way.”"

Bass gave a howl of joy as he made his way through the bushes. The rays from the mid-morning sun peered through the branches of the tall trees and warmed Bass’ fur. As Bass journeyed home, he thought of Hu-hu and felt a wave of mixed emotions. One thing he knew for sure was that he would never disobey Hu-Hu ever again. Bass paused briefly as he realized that he would have to tell Hu-Hu the entire story. Can Bass face it? Oh boy!


About the author...

Grethel Joseph is from Dominica and has always enjoyed writing and sharing her writing with family and friends, be it poems, songs or stories. She enjoys working with children and likes the challenge of making up new bedtime stories to tell her young daughter. She has studied Psychology but hopes to dedicate more time to writing for children in the future.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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