I spot Fleegle chewing on something in the yard. “What are you eating?”
“I’m not sure.”
“But you’re eating it anyway?”
“Even though you don’t know what it is?”
He wags his tail. “It smelled good.”
“Good as in pizza baking in the oven?”
“Good as in possibly edible.”
His tail stops wagging. “Well, if it isn’t, it’ll probably revisit us tonight around 2:30.”
“If it does, revisit with it anywhere but on the bed, okay?”
“Hey, I sleep there too you know.”
“Oh yes, I know.”
* * *
2:35AM. I’m woken up by hacking sounds at the foot of the bed. “Is it revisiting?” I ask.
“Nope, it was edible,” Fleegle answers from next to me on his pillow. “That’s Buck hacking. He does that sometimes but you don’t have to worry about it, he doesn’t leave a mess.”
I’ve never seen or heard Buck. As far as I knew he was a figment of Fleegle’s imagination. I sit up as the hacking comes to an end. Not knowing what to say to a ghost, I ask, “You okay?”
In the dim light, the hairiest dog I’ve ever seen comes around the foot of the bed, up along my side and stops with his shoulders within my reach. He lets out a soft whine.
“He wants you to scratch his shoulders,” Fleegle says.
“I can touch him?”
“Yeah, sometimes. Other times you pass right through him and it just sort of itches.”
I reach out and gently run my hand down his neck and shoulders. His fur is soft, and feels more like running my hand through warm water than through dog fur. As I scratch his shoulders, he lets out another small whine and his image begins to fade.
“He says thanks,” Fleegle says as we watch him walk through the bedroom wall out into the backyard. “He doesn’t sleep much.”
“After that, I don’t think I will either.”
“Not me. I always sleep better knowing Buck is on the scene. If anything important happens he’ll wake me, and then I’ll wake you. He says he’s my guardian angel.”