From the book
9780307953063|excerptMcGrory / BUDDY
Try as you might, you never forget that first time a rooster announces the dawn of a new day from your very own yard.
In my case, I jerked awake to find myself in a place I had never been, on a bed that wasn't mine, in a room I didn't know. There were windows where there had never been windows, and outside those windows, the first hint of morning light revealed the outline of tall trees I had never seen before.
I pressed and poked at the unfamiliar alarm clock until I realized it wasn't the source of the sound. No, the noise in question was somewhere else, somewhere out of reach, somewhere outside of this room.
It seemed to be getting closer, louder, clearer.
"Dammit." I whirled toward the origin of the profanity, a figure that had suddenly stirred beside me in bed, a woman with a raspy voice still choked by sleep. She tossed off the thick comforter and lunged toward her side of the room.
In the darkness, I caught a glimpse of the yellow sweatshirt and blue surgical scrubs worn by this mysterious, fleeting figure. Hey, wait a minute. This wasn't any unknown blonde. It was my fiancée, Pam. What was she doing here? I watched as she paused in the murky expanse, apparently gathering her bearings, and then vanished through an open door.
I looked at the alarm clock on the bedside table: 4:55 a.m. Clarity was making a comeback. Memories were returning, gaps filling in. I had moved the day before. Yes, right, moved. It wasn't a small move. I'd left the city I love, Boston, where I had lived for most of the last twenty-two years, for a distant and leafy place known as Suburbia. I'd left a classic 150-year-old brick town house loaded with character and charm for a rambling new suburban home surrounded by this thing I was told was a lawn. I'd left a life of total freedom and independence--the only thing resembling a familial obligation was my golden retriever, who never felt obligatory at all--to live with Pam, her two daughters, their two rabbits, and their dog, Walter, in a new house that, as of the previous day, I think I even co-owned.
Oh, and how could I forget their rooster? Otherwise known as my wake-up call. That was Buddy screaming outside, Buddy waking me up, Buddy announcing, with singular style, that my life would never again be the same. Just as I had spent my first night in a new house, so had he, in his case a grossly expensive shed that Pam had custom-built in the side yard, with tall double cedar doors, insulated walls, a shingled roof, a shelf that served as his high perch, and windows that had yet to be installed, which explained the penetrating predawn alert. Buddy had awakened to the sounds of potential predators outside his house, which meant that the rest of the street awoke to Buddy's war cry. Good morning, new neighbors!
I heard footsteps downstairs, then the happy yelps and little barks of the relieved chicken undoubtedly being carried in Pam's arms. I had this rush of fear that she was bringing him up to bed until I heard the cellar door open, steps, silence. Moments later, the darkness giving way to more light, Pam fell into bed next to me.
"Poor guy is scared and confused," she said sleepily.
"I'll be okay," I said.
"No. I mean Buddy."
As Pam drifted back to sleep, I lay in bed trying to get my head around how all this was going to work. I'm not talking about this new, grand,...