THE DEATH OF GEORGE
Flames crackle and pop in the fireplace. Their reflection off the polished wood floor adds to the feeling of security and warmth. Rain still pounds on the roof but the thunder and lightening has stopped. I’m curled up on the couch with a Jonathan Kellerman mystery. It has grown dark; the only light comes from the flames and the Tiffany lamp on the glass and oak table next to me. I read.......Alex Delaware is tied up in the desolate barn and he hears a cowbell ring . . .
Rrring - rrring…my phone jangles. The sound is so unexpected and harsh that it startles me, causing me to drop my book. As I run to answer the phone I crash into the edge of the coffee table. Damn. My shirt jumps where my heart bangs against it.
Who would call this time of night? “Hellllooo?” I answer hesitantly.
“George is dead. I just got home and he’s dead.” Randy just starts speaking.
“What, who, who’s dead?” I try to make sense of what he is saying.
“George, George. He’s dead.”
“Oh, George. Wow! What happened? Was there an accident?”
“No, natural causes. He was okay when I saw him last night and when I looked for him today I found him in the bedroom dead.”
“He wasn’t very old was he?” I asked.
“I really don’t know, I never knew how old he was. Well, I’m on call so I have to go but I can’t reach Grandma, could you let her know. I don’t want her wondering where he is.”
Before I can say “Okay.” Randy hangs up.
So George is dead! Hum. I pour a cup of coffee go back into the living room and throw more wood on the fire. As I watch the flames I remember back to the first time I met George.
It had to be around the end of November in ’78 cause it was after we left Rio. We were staying in a motel in Curitiba, Brazil.
Bill was still mad or laughing at me because of what had happened the first time we were driving into town and trying to find a place to stay. As usual I was the map reader and direction giver. It was about 10:30 and dark as a tar bucket, no streetlights. We had on the dash light so I could study the map. “Turn right at the next corner. There, there, turn right. This should lead us right to the center of town.” I told him.
Drove in silence for awhile, both of us studying the road we were on. “This is an awful narrow road.” Bill remarked. “It looks like we’re going through a park or something.”
“Yah. Strange isn’t it, I wonder why there are stanchions on each side, that’s unusual.”
“Shit. Not when it’s a bicycle path it isn’t,”growled Bill. “Look at that sign.”
Sure enough we were taking our 7-foot wide motor home and trailer right down a bicycle path. I still get kidded about that.
It was that afternoon when we first met George. Randy brought him in to meet us. He hadn’t really been going anywhere definite so Randy thought he should travel along with us for awhile.
Bill wasn’t too enthused at first but Randy and the rest of the kids talked him into letting George go with us when we left for Uruguay the next day. He kept the boys fascinated and he was a good traveler. I remember him as being big for a South American male. He had black hairy arms and a big belly. He was very quiet you never knew when he was near, but you could feel his dark brown eyes follow you as you moved or talked.
I was a little nervous when we came to the border. John Mc suggested that George go into the bathroom and hide there. No one came inside to inspect thank goodness. I asked Bill what would have happened to us if George had been found. Bill said he would have claimed he didn’t know he was there and that he must have snuck in during our last stop.
“What would have happened to George?” I persisted.
“Well, they would have taken him that’s sure. Don’t know if they would have let him go or killed him.”
I let the subject drop for then.
In Montevideo we parked in front of the Marine house for three days. This is where the Marines that guard the Embassy live. They thought George was great. Took him with them to their parties and over to visit all the girls at the embassy during the day. I think they would have liked him to stay with them longer. But he was in the camper when we started out again.
To get back into Argentina we had to take a big ferry across the Rio de la Plata, a two-hour ride. We could get out of the camper and walk around and eat if we wanted to. Again we didn’t dare allow George out. Randy was torn between staying in the camper with him and getting sea sick or going on deck and enjoying himself. He opted for going on deck. George was a good sailor though, no seasickness for him, he just huddled in a corner and slept. And again we managed to get him through customs without being discovered. There are a lot of hiding places in a camper.
We spent the rest of the summer at El Griego’s. He shared the A-frame with Randy and John Mc very seldom coming in the camper. Every once in awhile he would disappear for a couple days, but he would always show up again. Randy said it was when he got hungry.
When it was time to come back to the U.S. I thought for sure that he would stay in Argentina
He didn’t, he came back with us on the plane. He and Randy were together the whole trip back.
He had no problem coming through customs in LA.
We had some fun times while he was with us. It’s been a couple of years now and I’ve only seen him a couple of times.
Hum, so he’s dead.
Ring ring. . . Now who?
“Hi, it’s your Mom, Randy left me a note that George is dead. George Knorr? How did he find out? Did Gertrude call or something?”
“No, no Mom, not him, George, you know Randy’s George, the tarantula he brought back from Brazil.”
George's Story - We met him while traveling in Brazil