It seemed as though his grandpa always had something special planned for him- which most children would be thrilled about. But, Allister grew tired of these constant trips. Inevitably, they all involved long hours of following his grandfather through thick brush deep into the heart of some dark forest. And, at this point, his grandfather would leave Allister alone without so much as a goodbye. Allister would hunch close to the ground, grab his knees and sob uncontrollably, scared and hurt that his grandfather would abandon him once again. He would reach the point of near-hysteria and tremble until his grandfather returned, muddy and wet. Allister would raise his head and stare tearfully at his grandpapa, saying, "Where were you Grandpa?" His grandfather would never answer. Instead, he would rub his muddy side against Allister's pant leg, leaving a dirty stain and, then, drop a dead rodent at Allister's feet in an apparent attempt to apologize. Allister never understood what to do with this gift. He would place it in his pocket and throw it out later on, so as not to hurt his grandfather's feelings.
His grandfather's track home meandered in a completely roundabout fashion (sometimes distracted by butterflies and sometimes by his own tail). Upon arriving home, he would climb through a hole in the barn siding, grab his pipe, hiss at Allister to leave, and pass out in a clump of hay. Allister would sniffle his last sniffle, wipe his tears away, and walk inside the house to find his Grandmother and tattle on his Grandfather. No matter how many times he would come in or how upset he was, his grandmother was always prepared with the same answer. "That is just your grandpa's way. Now, go back outside and wait for him to wake up. Grandma's busy." She was always busy, it seemed. But, as Allister walked away, he could hear his
grandmother giggling to herself.
One day, Allister's grandfather took him on a trip and left him clutching his knees and crying just like every other day. Only this time he never came back. Allister sobbed and sobbed and waited patiently for the sound of a dead rodent dropping at his feet, but nothing. Allister did not know what to do. He waited...for three days. Tired and hungry, he watched numerous cats walk past clutching field mice in their mouths, but none of them stopped. Finally, it all sank in and he knew his grandfather was never coming back. Dragging his feet, he trudged home, knowing full-well that it was his responibility to break the awful news to his grandmother, the woman who had lived and loved his grandfather for over fifty years. He arrived at the farmhouse, climbed the steps, opened the front door, and found his grandmother baking cookies. He placed a hand on her shoulder and instantly wept. He pieced words together in between the tears, taking a longer time than he had imagined he could ever take. His grandmother stood as still as stone, her baking-cookies-look frozen to her face.
She let Allister get the entire statement out, having been raised not to intterupt, and then she told Allister that it was all right. "That was just an old barn cat. He is not nearly old enough to be your grandfather anyway." Now, it was Allister who was the statue. "Tell you the truth, your grandfather left me a long time ago and I hope he is dead." With that, she went back to baking and sent him to go find his uncle in the backyard. Confused as to how he should be feeling, Allister wiped his eyes yet another time (it seemed a theme while visiting grandmother) and went out back to find his uncle, an old basset hound, curled up under an oak tree.