Folkpunk, For Kids, Magical Realism, Short Story

The Magic of Rembrandt

              Many years later, as he lay on the deck of his boat, Patrick remembered the day he got him. Rembrandt was a German Shorthaired Pointer and was dappled brown. Exceptionally strong and energetic, he needed lots of exercise.

              Patrick was a runner and an accountant who worked out of his home in Houston. They were a perfect match- however reluctant Patrick was to take Remy in, in the first place.

It was a cloudy overcast day in March and the skies were opening to pour. Patrick had just started his run, when he noticed a small, gorgeous pointer puppy scratching at an industrial fence surrounding an abandoned factory downtown.

              Patrick looked around for the puppy’s owner or his mother, but there was no one. It began to rain. First slowly and then came down in sheets. Patrick thought quickly. There was an opening in the fence, a few feet from where the puppy was trying to get through. Patrick scooped Remy up and squeezed through the small opening. Maybe he could take cover under the awning he saw across the factory yard. Remy cuddled into the crook of Patrick’s armpit.

              The factory had ivy growing up the side of the brick. It was the kind of charming place that would make a great brewery or trendy advertising space, Patrick thought. He had never run on this side of town before, but found that by switching up his running spots, he learned more about the city and also got a better workout. The hills were different etc. Taking cover under the awning got him close enough to the shattered window of the place to see why no one wanted it. He smelled urine. He saw squatters. There were fires burning in old rusty trashcans strewn intermittingly across the factory floor.

              Patrick locked gazes with a person on his haunches. He had strange green eyes and was bent over a man who looked like he had gone on to a better place. Laying next to the deceased was the mother pointer, who also appeared to have joined her owner over the rainbow bridge.

              “You best be moving on sir,” the young man on his haunches said. “They,” took all of the puppies. That one must have gotten away. He pointed to Rembrandt in Patrick’s arms. “Hurry. Just take that pup and get out of here, before they come back. They must be very special dogs.”              

Patrick didn’t want a dog and wasn’t sure it was right to just take the pup. Weren’t there proper procedures or some legal transfer- of- ownership types of things? Patrick looked down at Remy’s mother’s lifeless body and made a decision.

Rembrandt Painting of a Boy, Photo Credit: http://tinyurl.com/y64azr97

              Through the pouring rain, he ran, and he didn’t look back. I have a puppy, he thought. What am I going to do with a puppy? What will Jenny say? Patrick’s fiancé was an artist and a dog lover, but they were planning to move in together next month. Is this something she can handle? Jenny’s favorite artist was Rembrandt and Patrick thought that this might be Jenny’s weak spot.

Just then Patrick tripped over an uneven piece in the sidewalk and twisted his ankle. The twist was so severe, he felt the muscle detach up in his knee. The meds he was on made his tendons weak, a side effect he didn’t think applied to him…the pain was unbearable. He fell onto his hands and screamed. Remy went flying but landed on all fours. He was a sturdy little guy for being so young. Patrick swiveled around onto his backside as the rain fell on them both and opened up his arms for Remy to crawl onto his lap.

              “Aww, little boy, what are we going to do now?” Patrick protected Remy’s head under his armpit again and winced as he manually moved his hurt leg to a straighter position. He called Jenny on his cell, who came immediately from her studio and got them both into the car.

              “What happened, you’ve only been gone for 45 minutes, Patrick.” She was looking at him in the rear-view mirror, worried. Remy was relentlessly licking at Patrick’s bloody knee.

              “Stop pup, stop, that tickles.” Patrick said. “This puppy’s mother was dead, and their owner too, in an old abandoned building and someone stole all of the other pups…”

              “What?” Jenny said, “That’s terrible.”

              “Wait a minute….wait just a minute…pull over, Jen.”

Photo Credit:

              “I need to get you to a hospital Patrick, I couldn’t even get you into the car, you have major damage in there.”

              “Pull over, you’re not going to believe this.” Patrick said, with excitement.

              “Oh, OK.” Jenny said, hands up in the air, confused.

              Jenny pulled over in a parking lot and they both got out. “Stay in there boy.” Patrick said to Remy. Patrick got out of the car in the pouring rain and said. “I think this is why the murderer stole the dogs.” Patrick walked around in a circle; jazz hands out, completely healed. “I think this pup healed my leg.”

              “Darling, you’re telling me what; that this dog has magical powers?”

              “Jen, that’s ridiculous…but, yes, I am telling you that Remy has magical powers.”

              “you NAMED HIM? This is too much Patrick. Where will he sleep? He is a puppy, what if he destroys the studio I’m building, or the couch or our shoes?”

              “He’s named after Rembrandt, your favorite…he healed my leg, let’s not worry so much about what he might do. Let’s look at what he’s done. It’s raining. Let’s get out of the rain and talk about this at my place….our place. I’ll light a fire and put on some coffee and we can talk.” Jenny looked at Patrick sideways. She knew that as soon as the puppy was in the house, it was all over. They were going to be dog owners. She was quietly fine with that. She just wanted to make sure that she was setting semi-solid boundaries, however futile the exercise. It was a big deal to her that they were moving in together. She was from an Irish Catholic family who didn’t look too kindly on her living with a man before marriage. Now they had a dog. Having a dog isn’t something to be taken lightly, anyways. They need lots of love and attention. They need exercise and great effort, freely given to training them and spending time with them. 

              “Let’s go,” she said, smiling the smile. The one that Patrick had been waiting for, and he knew that he had won her over.

              The next day was chaos. Jenny decided sometime late in the night that she wanted to move in right away. Patrick and Remy needed her. She was unsure of Patrick’s leg situation, even though he was acting fine and walking with his normal athletic gait. Frankly there was too much excitement in the house to be away for any length of time, this is where she wanted to be. Remy’s purity and special gifts inspired her and she was up all-night doing charcoals of the magic pup. She did a quick mixed medium of just Remy’s face and started an oil of the three of them together on the couch. She put it on her blog which had been getting a lot of traction lately and she was starting to get job offers. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with the overwhelming nature of her rising success. She was steadfast. She was determined and strong, so she focused on the current situation and would figure out the rest.

               It was crazy- their instant attachment. These types of relationships take time and there are usually milestones and measured growth, but the three of them were bonded immediately as if they had been dying of thirst and were finally drinking from the same satisfying well. It was magic.  

              The next year went well, and they were happy. The wedding ceremony date had been set and they were frantically preparing for the big day. They tasted cake….Remy did too. They picked out flowers…Remy did too. (…he relieved himself on them.) They snuggled under the huge oak in the dog park…Remy did too.

              But then it happened. Right then and there in the dog park. A man approached the couple, Jenny of whom was obviously pregnant.

              “Get the dog, and I’ll take care of the other two.” The first man ran up to the sleeping family and was flattened by a snarling Remy and the barking woke Patrick and Jenny.

              “Remy, what’s going on…” Patrick said. He looked at the men and saw that one had strange green eyes. He remembered him from the old abandoned factory. He was the one who was on his haunches over the dead mother dog and owner in that old factory.

              “This pup is magic and I let you go that day, but now I want him for myself. I am going to sell this dog, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll give him to me. We have been looking for you for a year and I knew that if I stayed near this park long enough…I would find you. I would have never stopped looking for you.” Remy kicked the man down with his back two feet like a stallion and the other man grabbed for Remy but missed.

              “Let’s go!” Patrick yelled and they hurried as fast as Jenny could go, 8 months pregnant. They hopped in the car and Remy barked ferociously at the men who reached the car, just as they pulled away.

              “I don’t like this Patrick.” Jenny was driving swiftly away from the dog park. “I think I should take that first job offer…after the wedding. We can just move away. I don’t feel safe. We can give this baby, our dog and ourselves a fresh start. I mean it’s a creative director position, that would be good for us financially. I don’t want us to constantly have to look over our shoulders, because of these guys. Remy is part of our family now. I mean… I was infertile. All of the doctors told me so…and Remy helped us. His presence in our lives has been a blessing. I won’t have him hurt or taken.”

              “Yes and remember that time at your friend Lucy’s party. Lucy cut her hand and Remy licked it and it didn’t heal her. He blesses only us with his magic.” Patrick said.

              “…and the time at our bank. You were getting money out and that old man fell over and same thing, Remy tried to help his head…but we ended up having to call the ambulance. Geez, I hope that man is ok…now that I think about it.” Jenny said.

              “What about your family? They will never let us leave Houston for San Diego.” Patrick said.

              “The job is a dream come true Patrick; I think because we are leaving to better ourselves…they will give us their blessing. Plus, with the extra money, we can fly them out to see us.” Jenny rubbed her belly in the loving and protective way that women do. “You are going to need to get a boat.” Jenny laughed.

              “Yes, your father will let us go if I get a boat…that’s true.” Patrick smiled, and Remy barked. “Aww, good dog…let’s go home. We have a lot to think about, don’t we boy? Thank you for protecting us…let’s go…let’s go…” Patrick ruffled the scruff behind Remy’s ears and Remy smiled from ear to ear. Joy spilled from his eyes and he jumped around excitedly.

              Well, in San Diego the Foster family soon found themselves. Baby Isla was born in December and they were married in January. They unpacked in their new San Diego home in May. Remy slept at the foot of the bassinet in Jenny and Patrick’s room. They were happy. They felt safe here. Patrick’s job was easily done remotely, so not much changed for him, but Jenny’s new job was incredible. The perks were fantastic, and she had a renewed sense of purpose. Being a mother had changed her for the better. She was even more caring and doting than she had been before. It seemed that ever since Rembrandt had come into their lives,they had all grown exponentially.

A few months into the transition to San Diego, Patrick did get a boat. He named it “The Magic of Rembrandt.” Had it painted right across the side in a sensible font.

              Remy helped the family again when Isla was three and was particularly mischievous. She crawled up on everything. “Being up high,” was all she talked about. In the back yard was a beautiful, thick tree. Isla was much too small to climb up as far as she always did, and her mother more than once needed to climb up after her. Isla was fearless and Jenny was a nervous wreck.

              “You need to be careful, little girl.”

              “Okay Mommy.” Isla would say, not from the swings, but from the top bar of the swing set. “Oh, no!” Jenny would say and run to get her back down again.

              It was one early morning that everything changed.….Isla was up earlier than usual. Perhaps she had a bad dream or she was starting a new normal routine, but Remy was the only one who knew she was up. The clock read 4:30 am.

              Isla helped herself to the snack chest. She chose Doritos and got herself a juice box. She had trouble putting the straw in the opening and spilled half of it, which Remy quickly cleaned up behind her. She turned on the tv and watched until about 4:55 when she found herself bored. She jumped on the couch a bit. Took all of the books off of the bookshelves and then climbed all of the way, shelf after shelf to the top. This under normal circumstances was something that Isla could do with relative ease, but it was dark. The light from the TV was the only light in the room.

              When she reached the top, she knocked over an antique vase and it tumbled to the floor, breaking into many pieces. Isla lost her footing as she watched the vase fall to the ground and soon followed after it. She landed on a sharp piece of ceramic, so sharp it cut to the bone. Isla’s arm didn’t bleed right away, but then the bleeding started. She was badly hurt.

              The loud noise woke the house of course, and Patrick and Jenny came down to see the TV room destroyed and Remy licking Isla’s massive wound. Isla was screaming bloody murder, but Remy was clam and determined.

              “Stay still, baby.” Patrick told his daughter.

              “He’s trying to help you.” Said Jenny. And then she was healed. Isla started whimpering and ran to her mother who was exasperated and still half asleep. Remy circled Jenny and Isla, making sure that his little girl was ok.

              “I’ll start the coffee pot.” Patrick said. “Here’s a treat, good boy.” Remy followed happily. Isla and Jenny rocked in the chair for the better part of the morning. The baby seemed deeply shaken by the experience. She had finally learned the consequence of “being up high, without supervision.” This was sad in itself, but also a relief to Jenny.

              “From now on, let’s stay in our beds until the sun comes up Isla. We don’t know where you are if you leave your room.” Jenny said as she rocked.

              “…but Remy knew where I was.” Isla said.

              “Yes and thank goodness he did. I am so, so thankful to him, that he was with you.” Remy came up and curled up at Jenny’s feet. “We are so lucky to have you, Remy.”

              “Will he always be with us, Mommy?”

              “Yes, sweet girl. He will be with us for as long as he can be. We will always protect him and take care of him. He is a member of our family and has brought much happiness to our lives.”          

              Patrick let Remy out to go to the bathroom later that morning and it was the last time that the Fosters ever saw Rembrandt. He simply disappeared…almost as mysteriously as he had come into their lives, he was gone.

Jenny thought that the men had finally caught up with them and dognapped him from the back yard. Isla thought he was taken by the unicorns to their land, to teach them his brand of magic and to learn from them too. Patrick, well, he was devastated.

               No amount of explaining away what had happened to Remy would do. He was beside himself and would go on long boat rides alone. He was worried sick about how his pup was. He had saved Remy from a very bad situation and Remy had brought great joy to their lives. Maybe that’s what all dogs do for us, he thought. Maybe that was Remy’s truest magic. He made us happier than they could have ever hoped for and he saved my little girl. Patrick thought, he wept in the boat he named for his pet who he could only assume would pass onto the rainbow bridge to see his mother and siblings again soon. Nobody could care about Remy as much as we could, he thought. One tear fell into the water and it rippled. He looked at his reflection and saw Remy panting happily behind him. He turned quickly to see if Remy was there, but of course he wasn’t. He turned back again to look at his reflection and there Remy was again.

              “You’ll always be with me boy…won’t you? Is that what you are trying to tell me? I love you, dear boy. Thank you for coming to us. You have changed us for the better…forever and we will never forget you. “ And with that…Patrick went on home to the house where his wife and daughter were setting out a picture of their beloved pet on the mantle. Remy would have loved it. There he was, strong and resilient and the photo brought the Fosters great joy.

16 thoughts on “The Magic of Rembrandt”

  1. Of all of your writings that I have had the pleasure of reading, this is the most endearing. I have experienced “Rembrandt magic” and have always recognized that assurance of protection.

    Liked by 1 person

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