suppose there was one in every class, in every school, everywhere in the country.
A class hero. We had one in our class at Eureka
School. The boys idolized him and wanted to be like him while the girls swooned
over him. His name was Cujo. At least that is the way it was pronounced, but Iím
only guessing at the spelling. It was a nickname, and I donít remember anyone
ever calling him by his given name. Cujo sounds like a Spanish name, so I looked
it up in my Spanish/English dictionary, but it wasnít in there. I asked a Spanish
speaking friend, and he said it sounded like the name of a sparrow-like bird down
couldnít really define what made Cujo so likeable, but when he told us stories
about the places he had been and the things he had done, we were all spellbound.
He rode a beautiful horse to school, and his equestrian skills dazzled us as he
put his steed through its bag of tricks.
| I once asked him
if he would consider coming to my house on a Saturday and letting my family see
his magnificent horse. He said he would, and I arose before dawn on that day,
too excited to sleep. Awaiting his arrival, I looked out the window and noticed
it had started to rain. Surely a little drizzle wouldnít keep him from coming,
I reasoned, but after a while it started raining harder. My mother tried to be
as gentle as she could when she said he probably wouldnít be able to make it that
day. I didnít give up until it was almost dark. Not only was I devastated because
he didnít come, but I had told all my friends at school about the big event, and
now I would have to go back and admit that the great Cujo had not honored me by
coming to my house.
Later, Cujo invited Sam and me to come to his house
after school on Friday to spend the night and all day Saturday. At last, we were
going to be the envy of our classmates. Our mother said it was all right, so that
Friday after school we followed him, riding his horse, for the three-mile walk.
Upon arrival at his house, I knew something was wrong when his mother called him
aside. We were too far away to hear, but the way she was waving her hands and
the expression on her face told us it could only mean trouble. After she turned
and walked back into the house, he came over to us with his eyes glued to the
ground. He explained that they had planned to go somewhere that weekend, and he
forgot to check with her before he invited us. Our home was in the opposite direction
from school, so now we faced a six-mile walk back home, and it was getting late.
For some reason, neither of us was angry with him. We just considered it an unfortunate
years later, I met some old school chums from Eureka,
and they told me that Cujo had married into one of the wealthiest families in
Marlin and that life had really been
good to him. Unfortunately, his good life didnít last long after that. The next
time I was in Marlin, I heard that his health had deteriorated and he didnít have
long to live. I found out where his home was and drove over with the thought of
seeing him again for the first time in over sixty years. However, as I parked
on the street in front of his house and put my hand on the door handle, I changed
my mind. I reasoned that he was probably too ill to have company. Later, after
I had time to think about it, I guess I was just afraid that he wouldnít even
remember me anyway.