The Trumpeter in the Woods
Chapter Four – The Dog and Butterfly

So it is still 1995, I’m working in Pennsylvania and my new job there was no better than the one in Jersey. I had jumped from bad to worse. I was working long hours and my office was in a noisy computer room. I’d go home at night still hearing the buzz of the dozens of fans that cooled the computers. Maybe that’s why I now have a persistent ringing in my ears…and a lasting reminder of a very difficult time in my life. Don, my boss, was the devil and one of my new employees was the devil’s advocate. I was so optimistic that this job would be permanent that I bought a house in Pennsylvania. Caper and I needed roots. We were tired of the titanium cloud and the cacophony of pipes overhead.

I picked out the four-story end unit townhouse just for Caper because it had large windows for her to look out and bark at all of the goings-on outside. I’ll always remember the day we visited the house as it was being built. Caper ran across the plywood living room floor and stood at the opening of what would soon be the sliding glass door to our back deck. She peered down, then looked back at me with a doggie-smile and a wagging tail. The view was wide and expansive of a valley and tall trees. The neighborhood had lots of open space – and no titanium dioxide clouds wafting overhead. We were so happy and hopeful. She would soon be able to bark without the lady in the apartment next door complaining.

This new job lasted longer than the Jersey job, but not by much. After two very long, painful years, I was let go. I had begun to uncover the devil’s wrong-doings and he didn’t like it. The devil/boss called me into his office that smelled like cigar smoke and homemade beef jerky one day in early April 1997. He closed the door behind him and I immediately knew the news wasn’t going to be good. My years of experience taught me that when the boss closes the door, it’s not because you’re getting promoted or a raise. Doors stay open for good news. The door opened again and the manager of Human Resources entered and sat down next to me, his eyes never meeting mine. Instead, he kept his gaze fixed on the devil/boss as he picked at his overgrown light brown and grey mustache with his thumb and forefinger. The devil/boss sat down behind his desk that was covered in stacks of green-lined computer printouts and technical journals and he started to speak but his nervousness showed as he stumbled on his rehearsed speech.

“It is time to sever our relationship,” he mumbled.

I stared at him, trying to comprehend exactly what that meant. Sever our relationship? We didn’t have a relationship! Oh, he means that I was no longer employed there.

I was stunned and didn’t hear the rest of his awkward monologue. But I was also very relieved that I was out of there. When you’re in pain, any relief is welcomed, regardless of the future consequences. It was April and I would be free from this place and could enjoy the beautiful weather.

A week and a half later on a Monday morning at 7:15, the phone rang as I prepared my scrambled eggs and planned my day of job hunting. Calls that early made my heart stop; the news usually isn’t good. Who could be calling at this hour?

“Chris, it’s Sean. I’m really upset about what they did to you,” Sean had been one of my loyal employees and knew the hell I had gone through while working for the devil/boss and with the devil’s advocate.

“Thanks, Sean, I appreciate your support but it’s okay. I was miserable and now I’m very relieved.”
“Well I have something to tell you,” Sean paused. “Don dropped dead of a heart attack on Friday.”
Sean’s words left me speechless. All I could think about was what my mom said when I told her I had lost my job: “I hope he drops dead.” I didn’t realize that Mom had a devil/boss voodoo doll. All I can say is that it’s hard to hate a dead guy.

I searched for another job for four months. During that time, Caper and I took long walks in the fields and through the woods across the street from our house. On our walks, I noticed that butterflies frequently accompanied Caper. It was a trend that caught my eye but, like the turtle, I wasn’t tuned in or ready to understand the meaning. Now I know that yet another one of God’s creatures was telling me that I was going to change, like the metamorphosis that butterflies undergo in their development, and the change involved dogs. Dogs and butterflies were paired up everywhere I looked. I even frequently heard a song on the radio by Heart called Dog and Butterfly. Was there a meaning in the lyrics?

I couldn’t figure it out, as much as I tried. I still wasn’t listening to the animals. I wasn’t ready.

I found yet another job at a technology company in Pennsylvania, 25 minutes from my new house. It was in the telecommunications field once again but this time, I was going to be a consultant. It was now 1997 and I felt like my old carefree self again. For about three years. Then God knocked on my door once again.

Content and title copyright Christine Palm Shaughness. No reproduction allowed.

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