5. Valiant dog

I had decided to spend another night at the hostel. I switched on the air conditioning, it was coin-operated, one could purchase the tokens at the reception.

Chapter 5

I had decided to spend another night at the hostel. I switched on the air conditioning, it was coin-operated, one could purchase the tokens at the reception. I wanted to access the web to read any messages I might have received and book a chalet in a beautiful landscape to spend a few days in before going back to Europe.

That evening the connection was down.

We ate our power bars and postponed everything until the following day.

I would have gladly gone to Kurashiki, a beautiful little center with some villas in a mixture of Art Nouveau and Japanese styles, but it was near Osaka, in the flooded jurisdiction and the temperature was too high.

What I saw of the Alps I liked very much, but my nose was still full of intimate memories and I did not want to feel like I was on the verge of sadness.

It was dark and someone knocked at my door, Luz growled, I did not answer. After several minutes a woman’s voice called, Luz growled, she said “Please Madam, the captain of the civil protection agency wants to speak with you!”

I was sure we had done nothing wrong, but a veil of paranoia obscured my thoughts. I suddenly felt alone, my sister did not know our whereabouts, I understood neither their language nor their rules.

We went downstairs, the Captain apologized for the late visit saying that the following day they were planning a final foray to a place where someone was still missing.

He invited us to join the group.

I answered that if Luz had to work she should be allowed to determine the conditions. Tomorrow at 5 am.

He smiled.

At 5 am we were in front of the civil protection agency door. It was closed, nobody there.

They arrived and offered coffee that we didn’t drink. They had a place for us in their car, but I wanted to stay in control and decided to follow with our Jeep.

After a few minutes we arrived at a logistics center where they had a Zodiac with an outboard motor. I shook my head and said that we could not work with the noise of an engine. The Sergeant said it was a necessity.

I raised my thumb in a friendly greeting.

The captain joined us “OK you can go with a second boat.”

So we left land, four of us including Luz. I looked at her to see if she understood what was required. A small sign in her ears, or eyes or fur.

The boat with the engine went on ahead, we rowed very slowly or let ourselves be carried by the current.

Thirty minutes had passed and the sun began to rise, it could get very hot in a short time.

I said “Let’s go back to our car.”

We were surrounded by the chaos of flotsam, pieces of wood floating without any order.

Suddenly Luz sat up, her eyes narrowed, looking serious she began to growl from her stomach. 

She was looking towards a wooden heap.

I could not believe it, certainly it was a false alarm.

Pieces of trees and planks interwoven formed a floating shaky little island to our left.

Even a small quake could have changed the equilibrium and it could have imploded on itself and sunk.

My companions moored our boat to the island and Luz went along, her paws attempting to gain footing on that improvised ground texture.

I called her back.

The rolling of the island clashed with our boat and a plank moved. We all could see that somebody was hidden behind the rubble.

I said “ssshhh!” with my finger on my lips.

I was scared that even a little noise could sink this improbable piece of land.

Behind the plank crouched a very old man holding a chicken in

his arms.

Luz jumped quickly, I did not have time to react, she moved so fast that I saw something out of focus and she came back as if flying with the bird in her mouth and spat out some of the feathers that tickled her palate.

I did not see how our two companions managed either, but they did exactly as Luz did, they focused on their arms and their own muscles, and picked up the old man in perfect unison and they brought him on board in a split second.

I knew what I had to do, as soon as they left the weight of the island, I set free the hook which anchored us, the island collapsed into itself in five seconds.

No one said anything.

Time to go back. I hugged Luz, she hugged the bird which hugged the old man. I let him drink some drops of water while my companions rowed now very fast with four arms.

Back on land he could not walk after having remained in that hole for days. I took the chicken and said “You’ll get it from the animal doctor when you’re OK!” my companions translated, he was reassured “Kansha Gaijin.”

This country is blessed and when I came to the vet they did not look at me like “The crazy one again!”

I said “The owner will take it back when he’s out of the hospital.”

Vivian Maier by Andrea Lenny

I heard a moan of a puppy coming from behind a door, they looked at me, “Sorry, I’m going back to Europe.”

It was enough, a bit absurd in a way, wasn’t it?

When we arrived at the hostel, everybody stopped what they were doing, and applauded. The rumours had already spread.

That evening there was a bowl full of free tokens for the air conditioning in our room.

Internet was also now available, when we came to the desk there was a queue but they all said “You first.”

“I’ll be done in a few minutes!” I just wanted to check whether there were any messages for me.

Some could wait, some were from my sister, she was worried about us and asked me to answer if we were OK, but one made my heart jump.

I answered Ama “Japan, Luz hero, tomorrow chalet for vacation, I’ll text you soon, all my love.”

The one which made my heart tremble said

“Thinking of you.”

“Same here.”

Immediate response “I want to kiss all the moist parts of your body.” 

I felt squeezed.

I decided I would answer when I could think calmly again.

The same evening Luz received a medal. The captain came to the hostel with my two companions. We went downstairs, she walked ahead with her extended trot towards the uniform as if he were an old friend and accepted the medal around her neck, turning her head 360 degrees and smiling to everybody with her big white teeth.

They said “Kansha Amaidesu Inu!” I answered “Watashi wa wasurenai.”

My little girl, a valiant heroine, she had done more than we had expected. 

I had to slow down, my heart was beating fast, I had that image of the sinking island in my head. We had risked our lives.

Good night, enough for today.