Sometimes, before summer rainstorms arrive, you hear a special kind of thunder. It's thunder sounding like a hundred sleepy cows walking slowly across a long, invisible, wooden sky-bridge.
Red Dog liked to chase that kind of thunder.
One afternoon, from a storm coming from far beyond Clint Nall's tobacco field, sky-bridge thunder-rumble made Red Dog's ears stand straight up. He stopped dead in his tracks and gazed across the field with his "searching-for-something-special" look. I knew exactly what he was thinking.
"Red dog... no!
But already he had leapt across the ditch. Already he was bounding like a mad-dog through Clint's tobacco field, his head thrown back, laughter-like barks gushing from his throat, and his scrambling paws throwing up dust.
The tobacco plants were tall as a man's head and every leaf was broad as a kite. As Red Dog ran through them I heard leaves tearing and being trampled onto the ground. Every step that Red Dog took caused poor Clint to lose another dollar.
"Red Dog!" I called, "come back!"
But, there was no reason to call. Already Red Dog was too far away to hear. Now he was rampaging across Clint's soybean field.
I knew that Red Dog would keep going until the thunder stopped. I knew that when the time came for him to catch his breath, he'd stop, look around and then understand just how far he'd run. He'd have to walk a long time before catching up with me.
I thought of Red Dog chasing thunder and of his running through Clint's tobacco. I thought about my standing all alone on the gravel road. And as I turned homeward I laughed a laugh so unexpected that, up on the telephone wire, the mockingbird paused while singing his before-the-rain-comes song...