A Short Story

marian cates painting

Drawing by Marian Cates

The Old Man

(and his dog)

A Short Story


Stephen F. Dennstedt


The old man passed gently during the night.

While exploring the interior of Honduras with his brother he had suspected something might be wrong, but reasoned that he had lived an interesting life and was prepared for its completion if it came to that. Though some minor government bureaucracy had to be overcome, the Honduran authorities finally allowed his cremation to proceed and he was cleared for the long return flight home. That was three weeks ago.

Even though it was early in the morning, the sun was already blazing hot as the small group faced the eastern horizon. They had come to pay their final respects to the old man in the place that he loved best, the desert badlands of the American southwest. His brother, his three adult children and even his ex-wife were all present. That his ex-wife was there would have surprised the old man, and he probably would have chuckled silently to himself. In addition to the old man’s ashes the wife had also brought along the ashes of the old man’s dog who had passed many years before. She thought it fitting somehow.

The beautiful German Shepherd had been the old man’s protector, companion and friend during many an adventure. The two knew these desert badlands intimately, for they had explored and wandered about the sand and scrub many times together. The old man had been in Yucatan, Mexico when he received the news that Major had died suddenly at home. He was grief-stricken at the time, but as so often happens only the good times had remained for the old man to remember. Now, today, they would once again be reunited. The sky was clear and bright, and a dazzling blue. No words were spoken, but everyone seemed to be on the same page emotionally.

The old man’s eldest son slowly removed the ashes from the simple cardboard box and proceeded to open the plastic bag in preparation for the dispersal. The wife unscrewed the urn’s cap, removed the interior bag of ashes and prepared Major for his final romp. As they looked at each other the ashes of both were passed around, and as the small gathering took turns, the two bags of ashes co-mingled and came together as a hot wind arose and carried them towards the rising sun in the east. What happened next is still a mystery, even to those who witnessed it.

In the distance the vision of a tall gaunt man appeared on a sandy knoll; he was listening intently to a dog’s excited barking. As the group continued to squint into the sun a German Shepherd could be seen running full tilt towards the man. The old man dropped to one knee, and embraced his canine companion of many years. The poignant reunion lasted for only a few moments before the old man regained his footing, turned toward the group, raised his arm and waved a final farewell salute to his family. He once again faced the sun with Major at his side and they quickly disappeared into the shimmering light.

Not a sound was heard, not a word spoken, but every single person had tears running down their cheeks and huge smiles upon their faces. They knew that they had witnessed a miracle. The old man and his best friend were once again together, never to be separated again.

Author’s note:  Dedicated to my loyal protector, companion and friend . . . Major (Major-san the Intrepid).  He was always at my side on many an adventure.  Rest in Peace my furry friend.  More about Major, including some photos, (Click Here).

Steve BW WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

(The Old Man)

Reporting from Honduras . . .

3 responses to “A Short Story

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