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2018 WKMS Short Storytelling Finalist: June Culp

June Culp of Paducah is one of the top four WKMS SHORT short storytelling finalists.

Here's her story:

                                                                 Copper RR07

In late October 1986 I was 35 years old I had pretty red hair,I could still run and my children were 16, 14 and 12. I worked at Loures hospital as a E R nurse . I had 2 dogs a black lab named Storm and the most beautiful copper colored cocker spaniel that has ever been. His name was Reddy. It had been raining almost everyday for weeks. Just dreary and dark. That Friday night on my way home I decided to bring a little more color in my life so I stopped by the Walgreens and bought some hair color. It was called Copper RR07 and that's the name this story. 

Copper RR07. Ya see this hair color was the same color as my cocker spaniel and I decided I was going to dye my hair to match his. Now for any of you ladies here that might have ever colored your own hair you know that on that box are directions as to how long you need to leave it on according to how rich you want the color. Usually 25 minutes is max. Since my hair was already red I decided if I just left it on for about 10 minutes it wold tweet it just enough that me and Red would have that same beautiful color hair. That night the weather man said the rain had stopped and we were going to have the first killin frost of the season . Now most of ya'll know that a killin frost is just that. If you still have any plants outside that you don't want dead you better ring em inside. So when I got ready for bed that night my old flannel gown with the ruffle around the bottom felt pretty good. 

Saturday morning when I woke up it was right chili and as I plugged in the coffee pot and looked out the kitchen window . I could see a thick mist laying close to the ground.  While the coffee was perking I proceeded to the bathroom to wash my face and put that color on my hair.

Now when you you put color on you hair, ya massage it in good and stack the whole wet mess up on top your head. Then you wait till time to wash it out .thats the plan anyway. My coffee was ready by this time and I poured me a cup and me and the dogs went and opened the front door. The sun was beginning to burn that mist off the field in front of my house. It was beautiful. Ice Crystal's shining like thousands of diamonds on that bent over grass. Reddy scratched at the storm door wanting out so I opened the door and he and Storm trotted out. For a few minutes they sniffed around and then Red took off across that field, Storm right behind him. I went out on the porch and yelled "Red!" I'll never forget that moment ,  It was like time stood still and then started again  In slow motion. He stopped dead in his tracks   Swung his head back toward me and as he did those beautiful curly ears hit the top of that frosty grass and and sprayed off little showers of what looked like diamond dust. He looked me right in the eyes for all of 3 seconds and then he turned back and hit a dead run across that field, with Storm right on his heals. I knew where he was going because I had retrieve him from his girl friends house at least 3 times that week in the pouring rain. 

I went back inside to sit my coffee cup down and slid my feet into an old pair of tennis shoes there by the door and then I headed across that field. A few good strides later the mudd under that frost had done sucked them shoes right off my feet. Now on the far side of this field was an old broke down fence with a couple rusted pieces of barbed wire on top. I stood there a second and watched Storm and then Reddy clear that fence. Thought to myself if a dog with 10 inch legs can jump that thing so can I of corse he didn't have 20 pounds of mudd up to his knees either.  Well I cleared that fence too. Most of me anyway. The ruffle on the bottom of my gown  got caught on a barb on that wire and ripped it half off, when I righted myself from the fall I was pretty MADD. I ripped that duffel the rest of the way off and decided that  I would use it to drag Red's butt back home.

By this time I had lost sight of the dogs but like I say I knew his destination and I wasn't far from it . I also realized other people were up so I ran from evergreen tree to evergreen tree trying to hide till I finally reached the neighbor's house. Sure nuff , there he was , little stub of a tail waggin, smiling his smile looking up toward the door. I was almost on top him with my ruffle alsso when the front door opened. There stood my neighbor with a cup coffee. He had on a pair of kacki pants that had a crease down the front that you could have shaved with. He had on a crisp white shirt and a dark blue jacket. I smiled and said, "nice weather we'er havin ain't it ?" I no sooner got that out of my mouth then his little buff colored cocker ran out the door. She headed off the porch around toward the back yard and Red was right behind her. And I was right behind them. You see I knew because I had been there several times already that week that there was a new high board fence being put up back there and it was almost finished except for the gate. I thought to myself I got you now buddy. The back yard of this house had a pretty steep slop down to that fence. I hadn't much more then got off the patio when I fell and started Rollin down that hill. Somewhere before I hit that fence I rolled over Red and we made it to that fence together. Totally out of breath I tied my ruffle around Red 's neck and with all the dignity I could muster I got up and started dragging him up that hill. When I got to the top my neighbor was standing there with a smile as big as Texas.

He looked me right in the eyes and said, " how long you had that color on your hair ?" I had done forgot about that color . I just thought those red splotches on my gown was blood from the 2 falls, the barbed wire and the evergreens I had encountered. The he said , " why don't I take you home." "Wait just a minute." He went in the side door and came back out with a beach towel and roll of paper towels. He handed me th paper towels which I started wrapping around my head and he proceeded to put the beach towel across the white leather seat on the passenger side of his new car. I picked Reddy up and was just about to sit down on that towel when I heard something running toward us.

It was Storm, muddy up to her belly. She hit that beach towel with her front feet jumped right in the back turned around and planted her front feet on a stack of official looking papers on the console. My neighbor started laughing and  I sat down with Red in my lap trying not to touch nothing else. When he got in I began to appolize. He said, " you know I hate to work on Saturday, but I wouldn't have missed having to work this Saturday for nothin. " a few minutes later we pulled up in my drive way. He opened the back door and Storm jumped headed toward the house. I opened my door and dropped Red with my ruffle still tied around his neck and he headed toward the house.  My husband was sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette, he stood up and half waved at our neighbor. 

I got out of the car and head to the house. Now you would think he might  have said something like, " are you alright ?"  Where  have you been? Or at the least, does that bear you've been fighting look any worse then you ? But he didn't say none of that, he opened the storm door when I got to the porch and said, " We’er gonna have to move ain't we ?"

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