On my way to the countryside, I pedaled through what’s known as Hollywood, a cluster of shacks at the edge of town. It was said some still had dirt floors. A young girl in a feed sack dress stood by a wash tub at the side of the road. As I approached, a man sitting on a recliner in the yard motioned to the girl. She nodded and drug the tub into the road.
I stopped, straddled my bike and saw the tub was half-full of water, with little green snakes, turtles and a black-and-white puppy submerged to its shoulders. The girl asked if I wanted to buy a pet. My first impulse was to get the hell away, but then the puppy whimpered. How much for the dog? The girl looked at the man, who held up his hand. She nodded and said the price was five dollars I took my wallet from my backpack and fanned a few bills looking for a five or singles.
The man hustled from recliner. The girl shrank away from him. He said the girl misunderstood. The dog was fifty dollars, not five. When I told him I didn’t think I had fifty, he said he’d throw in a snake. I counted my money. Thirty-seven. He held out his hand and told me to take the dog.
I lifted the pup from the tub, unwound a snake from around his back leg, then put the pooch on the ground to shake off some of the drench. I asked if he had a name. The girl said they called him Lucky Six. I told her the lucky number is seven. She said they called him Lucky Six ‘cause the first five didn’t make it.
I gave the pup to my parents, who’d recently had to put down their 15-year-old dachshund. Lucky outlasted Hollywood. Three or four years after I got him, the people were relocated, and the shacks were bulldozed for a gas station.
The day the dwellings were razed, an area TV station interviewed a few of the Hollywood people. I think one of them was the girl with the wash tub. She looked pregnant and was holding a young boy’s hand. She said she was sorry to leave Hollywood because it was her home. Then she looked off-camera, nodded, and complained that the place they were being moved to didn’t allow pets.