Madge Farquarson & Gunderson’s Secret


Madge was just about 80 and a half years old when I met her. She seemed a pleasant sort. You know, she liked people in general, liked the neighbour’s dog and fed him…a lot more than she should, if you know what I mean, and he loved her. He never even considered “doin it” on her lawn. He knew where his bread was buttered and I think there was a lot of understanding between them.

What a couple. He sure didn’t need any tellin when Madge made it to her front porch. There he was a tongue waggin before she knew it. His feathered tail wagging ta beat the band as if he hadn’t set eyes on her in a dog’s age. Yup, I think there was a real cozy feelin between them two. She’d get herself real comfy and set on her big pillowed chair and he’d be a layin real close at her tiny feet, content as a dog could ever be.

Occasionally, when Madge was up to it, Bowser and her would take a stroll to The Gunderson’s house and back. Gunderson’s, you might know, was down three houses and sat neatly round the bend on the corner of West and Third.

Elder Gunderson weren’t no prize, I can tell you that, sure as my names Isaac. I think old Madge only strolled down that way to egg him on! She knew it urked him one hundred ways to Sunday to see her out strollin, particularly on Sundays. Old Gunderson hadn’t removed himself from his porch in some ten years. I’m not sure, but I think Madge and him musta had a thing goin on in their spryer days. No sooner’d Madge and Bowser appear than Older Gunderson would heave hisself up off his rocker and go inside. It was sure funny to look at.


How’d I know all this? Well, my window seat points out kitty corner from Old Gunderson’s house two doors up and I get a pretty darn good gander at both of their places. And I like Old Madge. I kinda watch out for her. If you know what I mean.

So one day Madge Farquarson decides to take a stroll and Bowser’s right there at her heals. I don’t know, somehow it was a comfort to see them together. You’d think a big dog would get in her way, but Bowser, well, I guess he knew. The pup was bright alright!

Bowser was Billy Brown’s pup. Billy was a good kid. Never seemed to get into a lick of trouble. Billy knew somehow that Bowser just took to Old Madge. Billy and Bowser did a whole lotta licking and carrying on together and Billy was a busy boy at The Busy Bee Supermarket bagging people’s groceries after school. I think he was happy just knowing Bowser had another friend to spend time with.


So anyway, this one Sunday Madge is all decked out and takin her stroll down West St. with Bowser towards Gunderson’s house. She’s all a party in pink! Madge sure knew how to deck herself up right. That I can say for sure. Even Bowser was giving her the nod, she looked so good. I guess in the big scheme of things Madge was real important. Not that every Tom, Dick and Harry noticed, but Madge had a certain way about her. I expect she gave a little bit of herself to everyone she met. You know what I mean. She, was one of God’s people. Oh, not in a religious way, if you know what I mean, just God given. A downright ray of sunshine. A magical person. She could make you smile simply by lookin at her.

Elder Gunderson on the other hand was downright crotchety. A real bear. A challenge to the likes of Madge. So was his dog…Black. I guess that’s the only way Black could be. I guess I’d be downright ornery havin to be called by the likes of Old Gunderson. Why, Black would hoot and holler and carry on like crazy when Madge and Bowser’d appear. Good thing Old Gunderson tied him up on a short leash out front. I never once saw nobody playin with Black. I don’t think Black knew how to play, let alone give a big drippin kiss like Bowser would, if you let him.


It had to be 1 o’clock, just after my favourite T.V. Show, when I took a gander out my window. As usual there was Madge and Bowser out for their Sunday walk. As they came up to the corner of Third and West, happy and lookin bright as a sunny day, suddenly Black came a chargin and I mean hell-bent for leather, towards Bowser and Madge. Don’t ya know it scared the life outta me just seeing Black off his tether. How in holy name had he got loose. He was headed straight at Madge and you could tell that Bowser weren’t all that pleased. I ain’t never seen Bowser in a lousy mood before. I guess he was bristling. Things weren’t looking too good. If you know what I mean. Where was Old Gunderson now, I thought.

Well, Madge wasn’t takin to well to the current event. I could see she was a tad nervous seein Black comin her way. Her and Bowser kinda got huddled together waiting for the eventuality. What in God’s name was Black’s problem. I was half watchin and half runnin to help the situation. Things were just happenin so fast. I mean you just freeze up in them situations. It’s like watchin a Movie at the Picture Show. Ain’t nothin you can do but watch. Hold your breath and watch.

Well, the Black keeps comin and carrying on like a crazy. But doesn’t he stop short not more than two feet in front of Madge and Bowser and carry on like a nut case. He just stands there and whines like a baby. Well ya gotta know this was a relief to Madge and Bowser, if you know what I mean. Strange thing tho. Neither one of them ever thought that Black could be a whimperin mush. I mean who’d a thought. But where was Gunderson now?

It was about the same time Billy was comin home from Sunday School. All decked out in his Sunday Best and lookin really spiffy. He took note of all the commotion. Well, Billy never took a likin to Gunderson or Black. In fact, he’d had to deliver groceries to Gunderson’s on more than one occasion and had a bad taste in his mouth for both Black and Gunderson. Black had near tore a piece off his work pants one time and since then he’d been real careful and real scared about takin any deliveries to the Gunderson house. He sure didn’t want to take hell from his Mom over his Sunday Best Clothes being tore by Black.

But somehow Black was different this time. He was still being crazy, but more worried and scared than mean. Well, after the initial shock wore off, everybody, including me, was wonderin where Old Gunderson was. He wasn’t settin in his usual spot and lookin at the house you could see he hadn’t even opened his window curtains that sunny mornin. Could there be somethin wrong? Gunderson lived alone, except for Black, and everyone figured Black and him deserved each other. They sure painted an ornery picture.

Well, Black just kept a howlin and whinin away. Somethin ain’t right was the way everyone was thinkin. Was Old Gunderson finally off his rocker, lettin Black off his chain or was there really somethin wrong?

It was Madge who finally decided to do something. Well, she took herself up and marched right on to Gunderson’s Porch to give him what for! Puttin such a scare into everybody an all! I never seen her so determined. Black’s tail started waggin like a ninny and he followed her to the door. Well, didn’t Madge start bangin on Gunderson’s door and weren’t Bowser and Black howlin and wasn’t Billy right excited! I was talkin out loud to myself and cheering everybody on til I got hold of myself and cursed myself for being a stupid ninny watchin like it was a Picture Show. If ya know what I mean. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so excited. This was a big one I thought! So, I called the Sheriff.

Dick Barrymore had been the Sheriff since nobody could remember. Well I finally got it outta me and Dick said he’d be right over. Dick was nothin if he wasn’t Johnny-On-The-Spot and before I knew it, he was sirening his way down Third Street. Madge and the gang had gone into the house before I got back to my window. Holy Moly! I thought, wasn’t this the BIG ONE! We hadn’t had this much excitement since silly Sally Cochrane had set her couch on fire in ’46. Hadn’t she hit the Gazette!

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Bobby Turner’d had a real exciting Newsday with that one! Didn’t I call Bobby Turner right there and then. Stories weren’t easy to come by in this town. Bobby’d be really happy to be at the scene of the crime. Was there really a Crime? Didn’t I run like a bat outta hell to The Gunderson place. Wasn’t gonna be left outta this one! Nope!

Well, by the time I’d run down my porch steps people was comin outta Gunderson’s Place laughing! There was Madge and Billy charring away and weren’t Bowser and Black romping like old buddies on the front lawn. Just about that time Bobby’d pulled up out front of Gunderson’s and we stood there just gawkin like two pigeons lookin for a handout. What in Sunday’s name had turned this horrible crisis into a Sunday Picnic?

Well, I was gonna find out on my own. Didn’t me and Bobby go high tailin into Gunderson’s, passin all the joviality on our way. Well, we stepped through the Front door and Gunderson weren’t to be seen. I hollered for Dick Barrymore and he hollered back from upstairs. Just about then, Jack Tierney’s Fire Brigade pulled up and came chargin in! What in Holy Name was goin on?

Well, there ain’t much left ta tell now. If you know what I mean. Things calmed down. Bowser and Black became hollerin friends. Naturally Black never bothered Billy again. Madge and Gunderson had a tolerable porch settin relationship. Bobby never printed the story out of respect for Gunderson. Things just got quiet again. I ain’t never told anyone what I saw. The Sheriff and Jack Tierney just forgot all about it. But that’s the way of our town. We keep ourselves pretty much quiet.

I still feel all warm watchin Madge and Bowser takin their Sunday stroll and now things are just about perfect on Third and West. Old Gunderson’s actually smilin and chattin and well, Black’s tail never wagged so much. Things, like I said, are pretty much quiet and a lot more warm. How else could they be. You can’t easily forget such a sight! Brings a smile to the corners of your mouth. If ya know what I mean…








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Jen Goldie

I write short stories that make you think. Often the outcome is what you make of it. I believe life is a journey and can be, more important than the destination.

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