BEWARE
copyright Sam Elmore


My brother Britten (nicknamed "Slim") used to be a serviceman for Sears and Roebuck. One Friday, he found himself in his service truck with a fist-full of tickets for trouble calls that had to be attended to, covering three counties; and him wantin' to finish early and head for the lake.

He pulled over on the roadside and sorted through his remaining tickets. He lined them up according to where he was NOW, then laid out the rest of his itinerary for the day. Surprisingly, there was one call, to repair a clothes dryer, and it was (how 'bout that) halfway to the lake. He decided to make that one the last stop, so he'd have a chance of getting to the lake before dark.

"Sorry, ma'am" (he rehearsed in his mind) ".....couldn't make it this morning like I was s'posed to, but my truck....." (no, not the truck.....the parts; that's it)....."the PARTS just came in on the afternoon bus---blah, blah".....(yep, that'll work).

The location of the last call was way out on a country road; miles from anywhere. As he approached the place, Slim noticed several signs on the light poles and trees. Hand-lettered signs; all different colors.

He paid 'em no mind until he neared the place, and slowed down. Then, he began to read the signs, which seemed to get more numerous as he neared the place.

"Bad Dog", read one sign.

"Beware the dog", said another.

"Have mercy" (he thought) "that must be some bodacious mutt they got."

Wa'al, he'd never seen a dog yet that he couldn't handle. Slim turned a bend in the road and came abreast of a chain-link fence. He stopped, and looked in all directions. Judging from the mileage he'd traveled, this must be the right place.....but just LOOK at that FENCE!

It was at least ten feet high, and enclosed about two acres. But what captured his attention was the concertina wire on top of the fence. To Slim, the place resembled a military installation; except there was something different about this fence.

Finally, it dawned on him what was different.....the fence around Parris Island Marine Corps base, where he'd gone through boot camp back during the war, had had concertina wire, also; fixed to keep people out. But, this fence had the concertina wire installed the other way---for containment. Then, he finally heeded the message on the signs, attached to the fence at eye-level:

"BAD DOG!"
"BEWARE!"
"WATCH OUT FOR BAD DOG!"
"NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR DOG INJURIES!"

Well, this ain't getting me to the lake, Slim decided, and drove ahead. Mid-way down the fence was the entrance gate. He pulled up alongside the gate, stopped, and blew the horn. He honked several times, but nobody came to the door of the double-wide trailer. That ain't very surprising, Slim thought, since I was s'posed to be here this morning at ten o'clock, and here it is three-thirty in the "p-yem."

He blew the horn again, and finally got a response. A large German Shepherd came out from behind the trailer and loped down to the gate. Slim sat in the truck and eye-balled the dog.

"Finally", Slim thought; "Ol' 'Beware' his-own-se'f. Well, hoss, you don't look so 'beware' to me."

He stepped out on the ground and began a crooning talk, as he walked towards the fence. Sure-as-shootin', the dog lolled out it's tongue and began to wag it's tail. Slim continued his coaxing chatter, as he walked around the truck and over to the gate. The dog shoved it's nose through the crack between the gate and the line post, and increased it's tail-wagging.

Slim offered the back of his hand for the dog to sniff. When the hand was close enough, the dog sniffed, then began to lick the back of Slim's hand.

"Shoot", Slim said, "you ain't nothin' but a pussy-cat."

Slim went back to the truck, took out his tool box and a new timer for the clothes dryer, and walked to the gate. He lifted the yoke latch and swung the gate outwards, stepping behind it. The dog almost ran Slim down, as it bounded through the gate, made a bee-line for the truck, and began treating the tires.

Slim stepped inside the fence and closed the gate, leaving the German Shepherd outside. "So much for ol' beware", he thought, as he quickly stepped off towards the open shed by the side fence, where he had already spotted the washer and dryer.

Slim began to remove the faulty timer; with his mind already on the lake, in anticipation of taking a mess of catfish off his trot-line. As he worked on the machine, he couldn't quite put his finger on what was wrong, but it just seemed like something was out of kilter. He KNEW the timer was the right make and model; he had the right tools, everything; then why did he have the feeling that something just wasn't---

Just then, the hair stood up on the back of Slim's neck. What he was hearing NOW, he'd been hearing since he started walking towards the shed. He whirled around, and there stood a huge DOBERMAN, twice-the-size of the German Shepherd, with every hair on it's back standing up, and with fangs exposed. The beast was STALKING him! Slim's heart dropped into his shoes. "Boy, you have messed up BIG time!", his mind told him.

The shed containing the washer and dryer was one of those low, open-front, aluminum Sears storage units, where people keep their lawn mowers and tools. Slim swears that he can take you back there right NOW and show you his left footprint in the ground, and the NEXT footprint is imbedded in the top of that shed roof; put there when he launched himself over the concertina wire. He says he cleared the barbed wire by three-and-a-half-feet on the HIGH, and seven feet on the WIDE, before he hit the ground on the outside.

Slim admits, though seemingly embarrassed about it, that he didn't REALLY mind buying a new set of tools. He'd left his entire tool-box in Beware's yard---alongside the new (un-installed) timer.

When Slim finally got to his camp, about nine-thirty that night, his heart-beat had slowed down some, but he was in a cross-threaded frame of mind. He had arrived much too late to run his trot-line. Primarily, because he'd spent four hours chasing that German Shepherd "Judas-dog" that had lured him into the dreadful realm of ol' BEWARE.