All That Is Left

–About Life, Love And Loving

The fog rolled over the railroad tracks where the old man lived his whole life.  The tracks were old, rusted and grass grew high between the rails.  They were abandoned and hadn’t been used in many years.  His ancient shack was a stone throw from the rails, the paint long gone, the place barren and weathered, and just beyond his yard was an old train depot where the travelers unloaded their luggage looking for a better life.

The sagging porch had missing planks and boards so rotten you dared not walk upon them.  There was a time when hand-built rockers graced the columned porch and the old man used to sit with his two hound dogs.  He would always reach down from reading his morning newspaper and scratch each one behind the ears letting them know it was okay when people came to visit.

He had found the two hounds as puppies left behind on the tracks just past the creek where he fished.  He was retired after forty years working at the depot for the railroad.  They were that reddish yellow color that hounds often have.  He picked them up and put them in his truck.  He thought they would make great companions for his twilight years.

The next morning, he got up early and cooked them thick ham biscuits with cheese grits for breakfast, starting a ritual that lasted many years.  An early meal for the hounds, hot coffee for him and they loaded up the truck and took the long way to the creek to do a little fishing.  After lunch, they would ride to town and eat at Ray’s BBQ and Beer then hit the backroads and ride with the windows rolled down.

This was what they did every day for many years until one October morning.  The house was quiet that morning and the hounds got restless and started licking his face trying to wake him up, but he wouldn’t get up.  They knew that he was gone and heartbreaking howls went through the house.  They were sad, afraid, and alone laying there until late afternoon keeping watch on their old friend.

Ray came by when they didn’t show up for lunch and found the old man surrounded by the hounds.  Ray called them out and they just stood in the yards hugging each other with a trembling and shaking of their bodies.  Ray took the hounds home with him and they slept on the floor by the fireplace.  They were quiet and would not eat.

The old man was a Veteran and had spent many years working for the railroad.  The cemetery was filled with people that the old man knew over the years and called him friend.  The dogs sat by Ray still holding each other and howled a sad song as the honor guard played Taps.  Ray loaded them into the truck, and they took the long way home remembering the old man.

The two lived a long life with Ray and were buried in the Coon dog graveyard in Alabama.  They left many great memories for Ray, and in the end, it is all that is left.


Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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  1. Another poignant story of dogs so fond of their owners that they don’t abandon them even at the moment of their death.
    Dogs are capable of strong empathy, have strong feelings and therefore do not remain indifferent to the disappearance of their owner. They feel the separation: when they crouch near the coffin or go near the grave it is because, in that way, they want to express the hope of a return.