Chester Leo & The Cold Winter Night
The Adventures of
Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog!
Episode One: A Cold Winter Night
The kite flew across the sky, and its tail fluttered in the wind as the young boy held onto it furiously on this bright & sunny Saturday afternoon. Life was good in the city of Clayton, Missouri. For a ten year-old boy, life was very good, filled with flying kites, playful games of hide & seek, and of course, quality time spent with Father and Brother.
The beautiful suburb of Clayton lies just West of Saint Louis, Missouri. Filled with winding, tree-lined streets, beautiful parks and playgrounds, and the Hampton house, Clayton is a wonderful place to call home.
The Hampton house is home to our fun-loving little lad, Billy Hampton. But he isn’t just a little lad. He’s a considerate lad. Thus, the name Billy Hampton: The Considerate Lad!, fit him perfectly.
With colorful blue eyes, jet black hair with a streak of blue, and a smile that warmed the hearts of many adults across town, Billy Hampton was indeed, a considerate little lad. His father, Roger Hampton, was a well-respected vet of the Hampton Veterinary Clinic across town. Billy’s seventeen-year-old brother Kyle Hampton: The Impervious Lad!, rounded out this family of three. Three young men, all bound by strong family ties of love, consideration and respect.
Forest Park is the third largest city park in the country. With its western border located just a mile from the city of Clayton, Forest Park is the perfect spot for an afternoon game of kite-flying.
It was late December with less than a week before the arrival of Christmas. Though normally cold this time of year, Clayton had enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures for the last week, as temperatures climbed into the seventies. Needless to say, our young lad took this opportunity to run around Forest Park with his favorite kite, especially since Winter’s cold and snow were due to return with a vengeance tomorrow evening.
Forest Park was filled with many wonderful treasures. The St. Louis Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country, with lions, tigers and hundreds of other animals found in its many beautiful habitats. There is even a trolly which runs through the zoo and provides a perfect opportunity to see the animals in all their glory. A bike path runs the entire edge of Forest Park and provides the perfect means for kids to ride their bikes on warm Summer days.
Art Hill is a tall hill on the Western Edge of Forest park which provides panoramic views of St. Louis from the top. It got its name because at the very top of the hill, one finds the world-famous St. Louis Art Museum. Filled with ancient artifacts from past civilizations, the St. Louis Art Museum is indeed one of the best art museums in the world. Art hill slopes a full quarter mile, and gives happy children the perfect opportunity to play. In addition to kite-flying, art hill is the spot in town to go sledding on a snowy Winter day. Though there was no snow to speak of on this glorious day, the return of snow would come soon enough, and give Billy Hampton and his friends the perfect opportunity for some Winter sledding.
Roger Hampton, Billy’s father, sat on a bench nearby and watched his son happily fly his kite. This was family time, a perfect opportunity to bond and create memories that would last a lifetime. They’d been out here for nearly two hours, soaking up the wonderful weather and enjoying their quality time together.
The ring, ring, ring of church bells from Clayton Methodist church a half mile away, rang throughout the skies. Billy abruptly stopped in his tracks, as he realized it was time for one very important act. He looked at father, who also knew it was time for one very special act of kindness. A smile washed across their faces, and nothing needed to be said as both gentlemen knew what needed to be done next.
Twenty minutes later, the car pulled up in front of 125 Hallisbury Lane, a quiet, tree-lined street just two blocks from where Billy and his father lived. A smile washed across his face as Billy looked to his father, who sat in the driver’s seat.
“Have fun today,” Roger said to his son.
“Thanks, dad,” Billy smiled back.
“I’m so proud of you,” Roger said as he patted his son on his shoulder. “Your mother is also proud of you. She’s watching us now, you know.”
Billy’s eyes grew brighter, his smile widened across his face as he was overcome with emotion that he’d made his mother and father proud. A year ago, his mother, Angela Hampton, died unexpectedly, leaving her husband and two boys behind. The night she passed away, she read Billy a bedtime story as he cuddled up under his favorite Sherpa fleece blanket.
She lived a good, happy life, but never woke up to see the next morning. Though devastated, the Hampton Men were all grateful that such a wonderful, unselfish woman had touched their lives. The love she’d given her family was something they would carry with them for the rest of their lives. Every night before bed, Billy Hampton would cuddle up under his warm Sherpa blanket while Mother tenderly read him a bedtime story. The fond memories he had of his mother were something he’d carry with him forever.
All three men vowed to live their lives in her honor. Angela Hampton was the most unselfish & caring person they knew, whose actions touched the lives of many in Clayton and beyond. Now, all three men carried her legacy through their words, and most of all, through their actions.
A crisp, cool breeze blew across Billy’s face as he stepped out of the car and stared at the cute little craftsman home just across the lawn. This cute little craftsman was the home of Elda Foster, a sweet little old lady whom everyone in the neighborhood adored. The doorbell rang and echoed throughout the house as Billy waited on the front porch. A large window overlooked the porch and into the Living room, which was immaculate.
The front door opened a moment later, and Miss Elda Foster stood behind the door. Her hands clasped together as her eyes widened and a smile washed across her face.
“So good to see you, Billy!”, she exclaimed.
“Hi Miss Foster,” Billy smiled.
Excited, Miss Foster stepped back and let Billy inside. The next hour was spent cleaning Miss Foster’s home while she sat in the living room and oversaw everything with a smile washed across her face. Her husband Stanley had passed away over three years ago, after thirty-two years of marriage. They had been inseparable and did everything together. Though Miss Foster was understandably devastated when her husband passed away, the entire neighborhood regularly checked up on her to make sure she was ok.
Now eighty-five, she was still in great health and perfectly capable of living alone. Her home was a charming one-story craftsman with cozy wooden walls and a warm fireplace in the living room. Billy had come over to clean out the trash, sweep and mop the kitchen floor, and to hang Christmas decorations all over the house. Once a week, he came over to Miss Foster’s home to clean house and do chores. This was something he enjoyed considerably, as Father had always taught him the value of helping others.
A large Christmas tree sat in the living room, next to the front window. Thanks to Billy, it was now perfectly decorated. A peaceful sense of quiet hit the home as Billy’s work was now done. Miss Foster sat in a rocking chair in the living room.
“Come now, Billy. Come join me,” she implored Billy.
Billy smiled and sat on the sofa across from Miss Foster.
“You’ve done a splendid job,” she exclaimed as she looked deep into his eyes.
“Thank you, Miss Foster.”
“How about some milk and cookies before you leave?” she asked.
“Sure!” Billy’s eyes lit up and a smile washed across his face.
With a smile washed across her face, Miss Foster went into the kitchen to prepare a tray of milk and cookies. Billy’s eyes fell on the window as he soaked in the cozy and inviting atmosphere.
“There now,” her hands clasped together as she returned and set the milk and cookies on the table.
“Thank you, Miss Foster,” Billy smiled as he gleefully grabbed a cookie.
These were his favorite cookies. Warm, milk chocolate. Homemade, and Angela Hampton’s secret recipe, which she shared with Elda Foster before she passed away. Now, Miss Foster kept the wonderful spirit of Angela Hampton alive as well.
A moment of silence hit the room as Billy gleefully ate his cookie. These cookies brought back fond memories of his mother – Miss Foster could see it in his eyes, and thus, allowed him a few moments to reminisce about his mother. Miss Foster’s smile never wavered, and finally, she clasped her hands together and offered reassuring words.
“Your mother would be so proud of you,” she smiled.
A touch of warmth overcame Billy as he thought about his mother and how special she was to him. He knew that she’d be proud of him, but hearing it from Father, and now Miss Foster, who had been one of mother’s best friends for years, really meant a lot to him.
She reached across the sofa and grabbed his hands.
“I know you want a special friend,” she said as the smile never wavered. “Your mother and I talked about it many times when she was alive.”
“You did?” he asked as his eyes lit up.
“We sure did,” she nodded.
She cleared her throat as she looked out the window. Her brow crumpled, and she became deep in thought.
“One day, you will find one,” she continued. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Those words reassured Billy and gave him confidence that one day, he would in fact, find his true animal companion.
The next thirty minutes were spent bonding with Miss Foster over cookies and milk until it was time to leave.
A cool gust of wind hit Billy as he stepped onto the front porch.
“Good-bye Miss Foster,” he waved as he reached the sidewalk.
She waved back from the front door and smiled from ear to ear.
The crisp, cool breeze rushed across Billy’s face as he thought about what the future would bring. He was certainly grateful that he had Father and Brother as close family members. Not to mention, his fun-loving friends The Rodifer Children, who lived around the corner. Still, he always wanted just one more thing: a cute little animal companion to call his own. Someone to play fun games of fetch, or chase balls around the house. Someone to chase around the park on a warm Summer day, and someone to cuddle up with near the fireplace on a cold Winter night.
The sound of a cute little arp, arp, arp, caught Billy’s attention as he walked through the neighborhood. He recognized that sound anywhere. A puppy was nearby! Sure enough, a cute yellow Labrador puppy happily wagged its tail from the front porch of a house as it stared at Billy and smiled. This was the Davies Residence, and Mr. & Mrs. Davies were an elderly couple who sat on the front porch in their rocking chairs as their cute little puppy bonded with Billy.
“Hi Billy!”, Mrs. Davies waved at Billy.
“Hi Mrs. Davies,” Billy replied.
As if on cue, the Cute Little Labrador Puppy darted from the front porch and to the edge of the white picket fence as Billy leaned over the fence to greet his new-found friend. The cute little puppy smiled from ear to ear and licked Billy’s face as Billy rubbed his hands along the cute little puppy’s back.
After a few moments, it was time to end playtime with the Cute Little Labrador Puppy, as Billy needed to get home for dinner.
“By Mr. & Mrs. Davies,” Billy waved.
The elderly couple smiled and waved back. Billy gave the Cute Little Labrador Puppy one final pet, then continued his walk down the block. He turned around when he reached the end of the block, and the Cute Little Labrador Puppy still sat at the edge of the fence and stared at Billy, its tail wagging furiously.
The charming cottage at 1131 Stevens Place was situated on one of Clayton’s quietest streets. Large Maple trees dotted the street and gave the neighborhood character and charm.
December was a time of joy for children all over the world. Christmas was fast approaching and provided the perfect opportunity for quality time with family. The crisp, cold weather provided the perfect opportunity for warm nights by the fireplace, sipping eggnog, and cuddling up under a warm blanket. And of course, no December would be complete without playful times building a snow man outside!
But most of all, Christmas was a time for Billy to celebrate Mother, and the wonderful love she’d given her family. Mother especially loved the cold weather, as it provided the perfect opportunity to cuddle up under a warm Sherpa blanket.
Christmas gifts weren’t important to Billy. Though he surely wouldn’t pass up the perfect toy, the best gift Billy could ask for was quality time with family. Though gifts weren’t a major concern for him, there was one special Christmas gift that he wanted.
An animal friend!
Before she passed away, Angela Hampton had vowed to give Billy a cute little animal friend. He’d done so much for others at such a young age and had given companionship and love to others, it was only fitting that he receive that gift in return. Though Billy was loved dearly by his family, Mother knew that Billy would love a special companion to take with him wherever he went.
The charming cottage at 1131 Stevens Place was a bright shade of sky blue, with a warm, inviting navy painted across the shutters. This cozy cottage home was the home of the Hamptons, where Roger, Billy and Kyle Hampton called home.
The front door made a loud thump behind him as Billy stepped inside. The home was immaculate; the perfect space for three young men to call home. The foyer was filled with a large coat rack immediately to the left of the front door. Warm hardwood floors in a deep shade of chocolate covered the entire first floor, and spread warmth, radiance and coziness across this beautiful home.
A picture of Angela Hampton hanged directly above the coat rack and spread a ray of light throughout the home. A smile ran across her face as her husband and eldest son stood behind her, while Billy stood in front of his mother, her arm resting on his shoulder. This beautiful family portrait showcased the bond this family has for one another.
The living room sat immediately to the right of the foyer, with a large fireplace along the right wall. Two large windows, one on either side of the fireplace, brightened up the room and allowed bright, warm rays of light to permeate the room. A third window ran across most of the wall which overlooked the front porch and made the room even brighter. Along the far wall, a sofa sat under the window and provided the perfect spot to look out at the street beyond.
A second sofa faced the fireplace and sat just as one walked into the living room. With both sofas perpendicular to one another, this part of the home provided a warm & cozy space for family get-togethers, as everyone could sit round the fire and enjoy family time together.
The smell of casserole permeated the house as Billy placed his coat on the rack and plopped down on the sofa. Hours of flying his kite had left him exhausted, and it was time for a nap before dinner. He neatly placed his shoes on the floor, and lay back on the sofa.
With the smell of casserole in the air, he fell asleep to sweet memories of his mother.
After dinner, Billy cleaned up his room and went downstairs to have dinner with Father and Brother. A delicious casserole with Caesar salad and fresh steamed broccoli were on tonight’s menu!
Father, Brother and Billy spent an hour at the dinner table, bonding over quality time and good food! After dinner, the trio spent an hour making sure their beautiful Christmas tree in the living room was just right. The night was capped off with their favorite Christmas-themed movie in the living room, before finally it was time for bed.
Father grabbed Billy’s hand and led him into Billy’s bedroom, where he tucked his son into bed. Before turning out the light, Father continued the tradition his wife had started, and read his son a bedtime story.
Five minutes into the story, Billy was sound asleep. Father gently kissed his son on the forehead, and turned out the light. This had been a wonderful evening. A time to celebrate family time, and to remember the life of Angela Hampton.
Father went from room to room and turned out the lights before tucking himself into bed. With a smile on his face, he dozed off to happy memories of Angela Hampton.
The ring, ring, ring of the alarm reverberated throughout the entire room. A hand slapped down hard on the alarm and silenced it. It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. The sound of birds chirping rang through the open windows, accompanied by a cool, crisp breeze.
Billy Hampton sat up and stretched as a smile washed across his face. Today was the day. The day that he was going to get a very special gift: the animal friend that he’d always wanted. His feet echoed across the room and he sprang out of bed and ran into the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, he was fully dressed and stood in front of the mirror. A smile washed across his face as he thought about his new animal friend. Would it be a Labrador? Perhaps! And what color? Yellow, black or brown? Or…would it be Beagle with a cute little black nose? Or, would it be a cute little kitten? Decisions, decisions!
The house was silent as he rushed down the stairs and into the kitchen, where he quickly flung open the pantry. A small pet water bowl was accompanied by a pet feeding bowl in the pantry. He bought both of them weeks ago, using his allowance money in anticipation of this glorious day.
“Good morning, son,” a voice said from behind him as he placed the items on the floor.
Billy turned around and found Father standing in front of the doorway, a smile washed across his face.
“Good morning dad,” Billy replied as his smile stretched even further across his face.
“Well, today’s the big day,” Father said as he walked into the kitchen and opened the cabinets. “You must be so excited.”
“Yep! Sure am!”
“So, what do you think you’ll get today?” Father asked as he placed a cereal bowl on the table.
Billy sat down at the table as father caressed his hair. The clink of the sound of cereal hitting the bowl echoed across the room, followed by the shhhhhhh of milk being poured into the bowl.
“I don’t know, dad,” Billy replied just before taking a bite into his favorite cereal. “I just want a good friend.”
“Well, I’m so proud of you,” Father said as he sat across from his son. “You’ve been such a good boy. You deserve this.”
The duo happily spent the next thirty minutes bonding over breakfast as they excitedly talked about the fun day ahead.
Around the corner, the Rodifer home was buzzing with frantic activity. Noah Rodifer was the first out of his bunk bed, which he shared with his adopted brother Corey. Noah Rodifer is an eleven-year-old African-American boy, and he was always the first out of bed.
Bespectacled, extremely intelligent with an innate curiosity about the world around him, Noah isn’t just any young boy. He’s a cartographer, Purveyor Of Maps And All The Things Around The World.
He prided himself on his vast knowledge of the world, which included not only every single state Capitol, but over fifty world Capitols and growing. The location of Canberra? That was an easy one: Australia, mate! The capitol of England? London, helloooo! The capitol of Catalonia? Barcelona!
There were two things Noah always carried with him. Well, three if you count his glasses. The other two were a satchel, and some sort of map inside. The particular map he carried depended on his mood, and though smartphone technology meant one could have dozens of maps at one’s fingertips, a virtual map wouldn’t do.
No. A real map accompanied him at all times.
Noah scurried across the room and made sure he was the first to arrive in the bathroom, where he began to get ready for the day ahead.
Ten minutes later, Corey Rodifer sat up in the top bunk which he shared with Noah. This cute little ten year-old Caucasian boy was the Epitome Of Adorable, with bright blonde hair and the cutest blue eyes one has ever seen. To top it all off, an eternal smile was washed across his face wherever he went.
He already knew the first bathroom was occupied. Though instinct had already told him his adopted brother was in the bathroom, Corey peered over the edge of the bed to the empty bunk below him, which confirmed everything he needed to know. He climbed down the bunk and to the door, which creaked open as he walked into the upstairs hallway. Noah and Corey’s room sat at the end of the hall, and to get to the bathroom, they had to pass The Door.
The Door carried a sign with large letters which read in all caps read DO NOT PASS, an ominous warning to anyone who dared enter the room.
That room was occupied by none other than Cindy Rodifer, Corey and Noah’s adopted sister. This eleven-year-old girl was originally from the island of Samui, in southern Thailand. Her ominous warning aside, Cindy was quite nice, if a bit standoffish to her adopted brothers. She didn’t really dislike them. In fact, she loved them just as she would if they were her own flesh and blood. But that didn’t mean that a little sibling rivalry here and there wasn’t in order.
As he crept into the second bathroom, Corey breathed a sigh of relief that not only had he beaten Cindy to the bathroom, but his adopted brother Tommy as well. It was time to get ready and prepare for the fun and exciting day ahead.
Forty-five minutes later, the Hampton car pulled up in front of the Rodifer residence. Billy sat in the passenger seat with the window rolled down as his father sat in the driver’s seat. Barely seconds after they arrived, the front door flung open and cute little Noah Rodifer ran down the front stairs and to the car.
Never one to be late, Noah was always, always, always on time. Punctuality was considered one of his strong suits, along with his impeccable knowledge of the world around him.
“Hey buddyyyyy,” Noah high-fived Billy as he opened the backdoor and plopped into the car.
Seconds later, Corey also ran down the front stairs, and into the open car. His greeting was much more reserved than that of his adopted brother. Being an easygoing lad meant that his demeanor was just that – easygoing!
“Hi Billy, Hi Mr. Hampton,” he smiled as he plopped into the car.
Last but definitely not least, Tommy Rodifer flew out of the front door, across the lawn and to the car. Dressed in his trademark red sweatshirt, blue jeans and yellow shoes, Tommy was ready for action! He high-fived Billy, and swung the door behind him as he jumped into the car.
This ten year-old boy was originally from Barcelona, and together with Corey, Cindy and Noah, rounded out the Rodifer Children.
Adoption day at the vet’s office was always an exciting affair. Filled with parents and children alike, this was the place to adopt a cute little feline or canine friend. Animals from all corners of the county were brought here, and ranged from just a few weeks old, to full-fledged adults.
The car pulled up and Tommy was the first out of the car. He raced up to the front door, with Corey and Noah close on his heels. The sound of dogs barking and kittens meowing echoed through the air. There were dozens of them, littered all the way from the front lawn and into the vet’s office. Humans of course, accompanied the pets, and children and their parents walked around the compound, sticking their fingers in cages, and adoring all of the adorable little animals.
One could feel the excitement in the air as Billy and his father parked the car and walked to the front, where Corey, Noah and Tommy were now huddled in front of a cage with their backs to the Hamptons.
“Look,” Tommy said, the excitement in his voice as he pointed to the cage.
The boys stepped back and allowed Billy and his father a view as they got closer. The cutest, most adorable Labrador puppy Billy had ever seen, wagged its tail as its eyes fell on Billy. With the cutest shade of yellow and the most adorable puppy dog eyes, Billy instantly felt a bond. But before he could step any closer, a vet tech swooped in with a smile on her face and hovered over the cage.
The cute little pup’s eyes never wavered from Billy as its cute little tail wagged in excitement. But alas, it was not meant to be. Before Billy could stick his fingers in the cage, the cute little Labrador puppy was whisked away.
“Mommy!!!!!”, a voice yelled from across the room.
The boys looked across the room, where a cute little lad raced across the room and broke free from his parents’ hands as he raced towards the cage. No sooner had the vet tech set the cage down on the floor, did the little boy fall to his knees and wrap his arms around the cage.
The vet tech quickly opened the cage, and the cute little Labrador Puppy bonded with the Cute Little Boy From University City. They knew he was from University City because well…his sweatshirt said ‘University City’! Tails were wagged, faces were licked, and a happy sense of joy was spread throughout the air.
Though a slight tinge of disappointment hit Billy, he was ultimately happy for the cute little lad. Though it wasn’t meant to be for Billy, a cute little Labrador Puppy and a Cute Little Boy had bonded, and that was never a bad thing.
Billy’s eyes met everyone’s one by one, and though they didn’t come out and say it, they all felt a bit disappointed for Billy. Still, Billy wasn’t one to sulk and dwell on the past. No. One needed to look to the future. There would surely be more cute, adorable animal friends inside.
So, onward they went. Corey, Noah, Tommy, Billy and Father. All bound by a common desire to find a special animal friend for a considerate little lad.
The sound of dogs barking and kittens meowing grew louder as the boys scurried inside. Cages and animal pits were scattered all about, while dozens of cute little animals roamed around the center, many of them chased by children and their parents. Hugs were given, tails were wagged, and children shouted in excitement as they made new-found animal friends.
An hour passed as Corey, Noah, Billy and Tommy hugged and petted various animal friends, but each and every one had already been adopted, waiting to be taken to new homes where they would soon be showered with love and affection.
“They’re all adopted,” Billy said as a tinge of sadness hit him.
One could hear the sadness in his voice as it quivered. A tear fell down his face. Corey, Noah, and Tommy looked at their friend and felt sad for him, undoubtedly frustrated that he hadn’t found an animal companion of his own.
“Cheer up,” Noah said as he patted his friend on the back. “You’re gonna find a friend.”
“You think?” Billy asked as his eyes widened.
“Sure you will,” Corey chimed in.
“Yeah,” Tommy interjected. “We’re The Rodifers, and you’re part of our gang. We’re gonna stick together and succeed at our mission.”
Suddenly, everyone’s eyes met everyone elses’ as they call came to the same conclusion.
“We forgot the mission!,” Tommy said.
The boys had been so distracted and excited for Billy, that they forgot to State Their Mission. They always, always, always Stated Their Mission. Except…this time, they didn’t.
You see, these little lads weren’t just lads. They were lads on a mission, equipped with special imaginary gifts which helped them fight imaginary villains, solve imaginary crimes, and unlock imaginary puzzles. They were just about to State Their Mission when a cute little meow echoed throughout the room, and all the boys’ eyes immediately scanned the room in search of its origins. This wasn’t just a meow, this was a meow, and the source of that meow was undoubtedly in this room somewhere.
All eyes met as they knew that Stating a Mission would have to wait. Besides, though nothing had officially been said, they already knew today’s misson: to find Billy a loving animal friend.
All eyes immediately darted around. Corey and Tommy looked on the far right side of the room and scanned the area for the source of the cutest meow they’d ever heard, while Billy and Noah scanned the left side of the room. For a good five minutes, the boys searched far and wide in search of the source of the cutest little meow they’d ever heard. Finally, they found it.
“Over here!” Tommy yelled across the room.
Billy and Noah quickly scurried across the room, where Tommy knelt down in front of a cage, with his back to them.
“Look!”, Tommy said as he stepped back and allowed his friends to see.
The cutest little kitten they’d ever seen sat inside the cage, its tail planted firmly straight up in the air, and its eyes on its new-found friends. The Cutest Little Kitten They’d Ever Seen was a mostly white cat with black circles on various parts of its body. Its cute little eyes and vibrant smile could melt even the hardest heart, and its eyes immediately fell on Billy in particular, as Billy knew that this was the animal friend he’d longed for.
There was no doubt in his mind, and Billy had already begun to imagine life with his new-found friend. Surely, the kitten would scurry around the house, chasing balls, knocking over pictures on tables, and doing things that only cute little kittens would do.
This playtime would of course, leave our feline exhausted, which would leave it with no choice but to cuddle up to Billy, either in his lap, next to him on the bed, or both.
Yes. Life with his new feline friend. Billy already had everything mapped out.
The others remained silent as Billy knelt down in front of the cage and stuck a finger inside, which was immediately met with a playful bite from his feline friend. The boys knew it was best to remain silent and allow Billy and his new friend time to bond.
Billy looked around for a sign which read “taken”, but there was no sign to speak of, nor were there any indications that this little feline friend had in fact, been taken.
“He’s available for adoption,” a soothing female voice said from across the room.
The boys turned around to find a female vet tech standing over them, a smile washed across her face as she too was excited for this moment.
“Really?” Billy asked as his eyes lit up and a smile washed across his face.
“Yes,” she smiled back. “He sure is. And it looks like you’ve made a new friend.”
Father appeared behind the vet tech and smiled. The look on his face said everything. He knew that this was the one.
“Can I have this one?” Billy asked his father.
“Of course, son,” Roger smiled.
With her smile never wavering, the vet tech stepped in, opened the cage, and picked up the Cute Little Kitten, who meowed once again. Our Cute Little Feline Friend felt so soft and warm as the vet tech placed him in Billy’s arms. The purrs were felt all throughout his body as Billy held on tightly to the Cute Little Kitten cradled in his arms.
“Sergie,” Billy blurted out as he stared into his friend’s eyes. “I’m gonna call him Sergie.”
Corey, Noah, Roger and Tommy smiled as they all nodded. Sergie was indeed, a fitting name for their new-found friend, and they were all happy that Billy had finally found an animal friend of his own.
Everyone loved Sergie. One by one, they held onto him and cradled him in their arms. Sergie’s infectious smile and his relentless purrs charmed everyone who held him in their arms.
“Wow! He’s so cute!,” said Corey as he held Sergie.
This was soon followed by a ohhs and ahhs from all of the children as they were charmed by the adorable, lovable Sergie the cat. Twenty minutes went by as each and every one was charmed by Sergie the cat.
“He’s all yours,” the friendly vet tech said as she looked deep into Billy’s eyes.
Billy looked into Father’s eyes, and there was no need to say anything further. Roger Hampton smiled with a huge seal of approval, and was happy that his little boy had finally, finally found a special animal friend.
Thirty minutes later, the paperwork was all done. Billy, The Rodifer Boys and Father all stood at the front desk and anxiously waited for the final touches to be approved before Billy could whisk away his cute little feline friend.
“Enjoy your new friend!” the vet tech said with a huge smile across her face as Billy stood behind Father, with Sergie held in his cage.
“I’m so proud of you, son,” Roger said as he wrapped his arms around Billy. “You really worked so hard, and you deserve this.”
“Yeah, Billy,” the boys chimed in. “You deserve it!”
One by one, Corey, Noah and Tommy high-fived Billy.
“What do you say we stop for some ice cream on the way home?” Father asked the boys.
“Yeah, great!,” they all said in unison.
Father rubbed his son’s head with his head, and no sooner had they taken a few steps towards the door did they hear sniffles coming from across the room.
“It’s ok, sweetie,” a tender adult female voice said across the room.
Everyone stopped in their tracks. The boys’ eyes fell on a little girl who stood across the room with a teddy bear gripped tightly in her arms, and tears streaming down her face. Her mother knelt beside her and tried to reassure her, but the little girl couldn’t stop staring at Sergie.
Billy instantly knew why the little girl was crying. There was no need to say anything to the other boys, as his eyes met each and every one of theirs, and they knew as well. Billy looked inside the cage, at Sergie. Those eyes and cute little purrs melted his cute little heart, but he knew what he had to do.
“I left my wallet at home,” the girl’s mother said to Billy, as if she instinctively knew what he was thinking. “So, we left and came back and…”
Her voice trailed off as she too was overcome with sadness. Billy looked up at Father, who nodded and placed a hand on his shoulder. One by one, Billy looked at the boys, and they too nodded. Though no one wanted to see Billy and Sergie part ways, Billy knew what he had to do.
Being a kind and considerate lad meant having to make sacrifices. Sometimes those sacrifices were difficult, but they must be made nevertheless. Billy carried Sergie’s cage across the room, and stopped in front of the little girl. Their eyes met for long moment as they communicated their thoughts simply through their facial expressions.
The little girl was eternally grateful for what Billy was about to do. Her tears faded away as she became overwhelmed with joy. Billy on the other hand, was a bit sad, but thought about his mother. This is something that she would have done without a second thought. She was the kind of woman who gave strangers the coat off her back in the dead of Winter. Though she was no longer alive, her spirit lived within Billy.
“Can you promise me three things?” Billy asked.
She nodded as her tears turned to happiness.
“You have to tell him you love him every day,” Billy said.
The girl nodded as Billy continued.
“And you have to treat him like he’s your own family.”
Billy turned around and looked at dad, who nodded.
“And you have to do good for someone else, to keep this going,” Billy continued. “Can you promise me that?”
The little girl’s eyes lit up, and she nodded as a smile washed across her face. A tear ran down Billy’s face as he opened the cage and held Sergie in his arms. Even now, Sergie’s cute, infectious smile could be felt throughout the room. Sergie looked deep into Billy’s eyes and smiled as his infectious purring warmed Billy’s heart.
A cute little “meow” was belted out as Sergie looked deep into Billy’s eyes. There was an undeniable bond between them. That was apparent.
“I love you, Sergie,” Billy said as he kissed little Sergie on the head.
Sergie smiled back with a “meow” as he looked into Billy’s eyes. Though Sergie couldn’t speak, Billy knew that meow meant ‘I love you’. Those deep, cute eyes warmed Billy’s heart, but he had to think of someone else. The little girl who saw Sergie first, and who would have had him had it not been for a simple mistake.
Though Billy already felt unconditional love for Sergie, it was not meant to be. A tear of happiness ran down the little girl’s face as Billy handed Sergie over to her. Her eyes lit up as she looked deep into Sergie’s eyes and swayed him back and forth in her arms. Though he’d miss Sergie dearly, Billy knew he made the right decision. Sergie was in good hands, and this cute little girl would provide him with all the love and affection that he would ever need.
“Thank you,” the little girl said to Billy.
“You’re welcome,” Billy smiled.
The little girl handed Sergie to her mother, then hugged Billy tightly. It was almost as if they were siblings; the instant bond between them was that strong.
“You’re going to find your friend one day,” she said tenderly.
“I know,” Billy nodded.
“Your son did a wonderful thing,” the girl’s mother said to Roger Hampton. “You’ve taught him well.”
“Thank you,” Roger nodded as they too, embraced.
Finally, it was time to go. The boys said nothing as the little girl and her mother walked out the door. Billy, Corey, Noah and Tommy rushed to the door and looked out the window as the little girl and her mother walked to the car. Just before she got in the car, the little girl turned around and waved at Billy, who waved back. Sergie looked at Billy with a huge smile on his face, and if he could have waved back, he would have.
“Good-bye, Sergie,” Billy said.
Though Sergie couldn’t hear him, his warm smile indicated that he’d certainly understood everything Billy wanted to say. Finally, Sergie, the little girl and her mother got in the car and drove off. Though it wasn’t meant to be, Billy knew that one day, he would find his special animal friend.
It was only a matter of time.
Thirty minutes later, the car pulled into the driveway of the Hampton house. Billy, Noah, Corey, and Tommy got out, followed by Father.
The ride home had been filled with silence, as no-one wanted to remind Billy of his loss. Still, the tears forming in his eyes told them they needed to comfort their friend. Father said good-bye to the boys and left them alone for a few moments of boys’ time.
“You’re awesome!,” Tommy said to Billy as he smiled.
“Yeah, you’re swell!,” Noah chimed in.
“Yep, totally swell!,” Corey continued the conversation.
Billy tried to smile, but the sadness inside him was all-too evident.
“Thanks guys,” he said as he wiped away a tear.
A crisp, cool breeze blew the boys’ hair in the wind. A rumble of thunder cracked in the sky, and all eyes looked to the sky as a wave of dark clouds approached.
Instincitively, the boys huddled in a circle. Noah was the first to stick out his hand. When Tommy saw this, he too stuck out his hand. Corey of course, couldn’t be left out, so he too stuck out his hand. All of the boys looked at Billy, who finally stuck out his own hand.
Hands were grabbed, one on top of each other. Though they hadn’t Stated Their Mission, they certainly weren’t going to forget their Closing Statement.
“Clayton, forever,” Noah said.
“Clayton, forever,” Tommy chimed in.
“Clayton, forever,” said Corey.
Finally, Billy ended the chant, “Clayton, forever.”
Four boys, bound by a strong friendship, a love for one another, and a love for the city they called home. Clayton, Missouri. There was no other place on Earth like this quiet, tree-lined suburb.
“Clayton, forever,” the boys said in unison.
Finally, they leaned in for a group hug.
“See ya tomorrow,” the boys said to Billy as they walked down the block.
“Good-bye boys,” Roger Hampton said to the boys as he watched from the front porch.
“Bye Mister Hampton,” the boys said and waved back.
Billy rushed up the porch, and Roger Hampton placed his arms around his son as they watched the Rodifer brothers playfully walk down the street. Seconds later, the brothers turned the corner and disappeared.
The rain drizzled down the edge of the window as Billy knelt on the edge of the sofa and looked outside. It was almost nine O’ clock, and time for bed. He’d knelt on the sofa for hours, staring outside the window alone as he looked up and down the block. For hours, he couldn’t shake the funny feeling that Sergie was out there, meowing in the distance, telling Billy he loved him.
“Meow….”, he thought he heard coming from down the block. His eyes lit up as he looked up and down the block in excitement, but it was just his mind playing tricks on him.
The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs became louder, until the sound was right behind him.
“You’re waiting for him, aren’t you?” Father said tenderly.
“One day,” Father said.
Billy didn’t need any further explanation, as he already knew what that meant. Father kissed Billy on the forehead, then stood up.
“I love you, son.”
“I love you too, dad.”
Father led Billy up the stairs and into his bedroom, where he tucked Billy under the covers. Father turned out the light, and with the sound of the rain in the background, Billy heard father’s footsteps descend the stairs, until finally, the only sound left was the soothing sound of the rain pattering the windows.
The dream felt so real, it was as if Billy could feel it happening. He was running through the park. The sun was shining, birds chirped in the air, and it was a beautiful, gorgeous day.
He gripped a leash tightly in his hand, and felt the leash pulling him forward. Attached to the front of the leash was the most beautiful little puppy Billy had ever seen. Cute little puppy dog eyes, and fur and ears which blew in the wind.
Together the duo bonded on Art Hill as they enjoyed the gorgeous weather. A little boy and his dog. Inseparable and bound by nothing less than true love. This was one of many dog walks which the two would share over the course of many years.
Something told Billy as he lay there with his eyes closed and a smile on his face, that this particular dream would soon no longer be a dream. It would one day come true.
This particular dog walk would soon become a beautiful reality.
Christmas Day was a wonderful day at the Hampton residence. Billy, Kyle & Roger had celebrated the day in honor of Angela Hampton. Each and every one of them could feel her presence as she watched them from Heaven above.
The Rodifer family had joined the Hamptons for a marvelous dinner, which was followed by board games and storytelling in the living room as everyone gathered around the fireplace. Now, it was nearing ten p.m, and the Rodifers had left an hour ago.
The Hampton house was peacefully quiet as Billy sat on the edge of the sofa and looked up and down the block. A snow flurry slowly floated back and forth in front of the window until it landed on the windowsill. Seconds later, another snow flurry zigzagged back and forth in front of the window and landed on a windowsill. Then another, and another.
Billy’s eyes widened as he looked up to the sky above as hundreds of snow flurries blanketed the street. It was indeed, a White Christmas after all.
“You’re looking for him, aren’t you?” a male voice asked from across the room.
Billy turned around. Father stood across the room, in a doorway. Billy said nothing, but only nodded.
“One day you’re going to find your special friend,” Father continued.
“I know, Dad,” Billy smiled.
There was a pause as Father and Son looked into one another’s eyes.
“Is it ok if I sleep on the couch tonight?”
“Sure, son,” Father smiled. “Get ready for bed. I’ll be back in a few moments.”
Ten minutes later, Billy had brushed his teeth and was now ready for bed. He’d grabbed his favorite Sherpa fleece blanket from the closet and spread it over the sofa. Tucked under the covers, he anxiously awaited Father’s arrival.
The sound of footsteps grew louder as Father walked down the stairs. Billy peeked over the edge of the blanket as Father approached. He carried a large bag and sat in the recliner across from the sofa.
“Merry Christmas,” Father said as a smile washed across his face.
Anticipation grew within Billy as he wondered what gift he’d received. He sprang out of the sofa and rushed to the bag. Something soft and warm was buried deep within the bag.
He instantly knew it was a blanket. A Sherpa fleece blanket. He pulled the blanket from the bag, and the most beautiful blanket he’d ever seen lay within his arms. The blanket had a purple background, and Billy lay on the couch with his eyes closed, a window behind him and a lamp next to the sofa.
“A Cold Winter Night,” Father said. “That’s what your mother called it. She wanted to finish it, but she never got the chance before she passed away.”
A tear of sadness ran down Billy’s face as he was overcome with emotion.
“The last piece of the picture is for you to finish sewing,” Father said.
Billy looked closer at the Sherpa fleece blanket. In the picture, an empty dog bed sat on the floor in front of the sofa.
“When you find your friend,” Father said, “I want you to finish the drawing with your friend in the pet bed.”
Over the years, Angela Hampton had painted many family portraits of what she imagined would happen to her children. Many of these pieces were on canvas, but Angela Hampton also had a special talent for making images on bedding and clothing. Before she passed away, she’d begun work on an image which ran in her mind. In this particular image, her youngest son lay down on the sofa on a Cold Winter Night while his best friend slept peacefully next to him.
Father removed the first Sherpa blanket and tucked Billy under the second one. Both father and son looked out the window as the snow flurries blanketed the scene. Not only was this a White Christmas, but a special Christmas indeed. The first one without Angela Hampton, and both men vowed to live their lives in her honor.
Billy pulled the covers up to his face as Father began to read him a bedtime story, continuing the tradition Angela Hampton had started. Billy knew that one day, he would find his special friend, and when he did, he would finish the drawing that his mother had begun.
‘A Cold Winter Night’. It was only a matter of time.
Coming in 2019: Episode Two: ‘Fetch’
Thank you for reading these heartwarming stories. Please feel free to browse the official Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog! Store for your own Sherpa fleece blanket and other accessories: www.chesterleo.com. Finally, please share this story with as many people as possible.
Thank you for reading!
Author & Creator – Chester Leo: The Puppy Dog!