The first time Dale related his story, it prompted this:
It was summer and I was eight. I walked up the hill to my best friend Rusty’s house. It was late, late for summer. I know it was late because the image of a sunset will soon be crucial.
Rusty was out in his front yard and I got an impression that there was activity about. Something going on. Rusty called me over and pointed to a place in the woods behind his house. His older brother–I think he was thirteen–was running through the woods with some other boy. Rusty’s brother was holding a serious hunting bow. As we ran into the backyard woods to catch up with the older boys, we heard barking. More like yelping, actually. The sound of a dog in distress. Rusty told me his brother had been shooting arrows at some dog that had wandered up to the house. Now the boys were tracking it. Rusty’s brother was pretty sure he had successfully hit the dog with an arrow. I remember feeling angry about the whole situation, about how stupid it was–I may even have been crying–but when we discovered a blood trail in the pine straw, I also became morbidly fascinated and fell in with the hunting party.
Rusty and I followed his brother and the other boy deeper into the woods, away from the house. We moved up a great slope, and you could look up and see where the woods abruptly stopped at the crest of the hill. A setting sun burned just over the top of it. More blood threaded its way over pine straw, up through trees and shrubs. We began running when the yelping stopped, as if that somehow meant we were close–a dog not making a sound was a dog no longer moving. I anticipated coming upon it: dead, lying on its side, a mound of dirty matted hair and blood with an arrow shaft sticking out of it. As we reached the top of the hill, however, the trail of blood vanished along with the barking.
That’s the only time I ever walked all the way through the woods behind Rusty’s house, up that slope, and saw what was in the clearness beyond the trees. Usually we treated the woods as off limits. Thinking back now, I don’t remember what I saw up there other than the glare of a sunset. As with most things I don’t remember, I probably didn’t pay close attention in the first place.
(Note: in this “Art of Telling the Truth” exercise, I chose to change the reality and not actually see the dog. When this actually happened, we did indeed find the body of the dog.)