The Frankie Files


The author making camp This excerpt is from a larger writing assignment Georgia Heers is doing as part of her school/FTF in Guatemala Junior "semester". 

As Alan yelled Frankie’s coordinates in something like Spanish I couldn’t help thinking “Damn you, Frankie!” We had trekked up the side of the mountain twice already. Where was our new dog, well, our kinda new four year old dog?

There was some sound. Frankie’s distinguished cry/squeal/moan sounded like an alarm. “Arriba?” I shouted to Alan who was on his way up the hill. He said many words, many of them utterly beyond my Spanish. Some I deciphered, but mostly I just followed the sound of a dog in distress. Alan stopped and pointed upwards toward the opening of the brush at the top of the incline. “Él está por allá?” I asked. He nodded yes and proceeded to tell me the several paths the dogs like to take.

Alan was just like the kids I knew back in the states. Curious, smart, sweet and more than willing to share every ounce of knowledge. After he enlightened me on everything he knew about paths and dogs, I began scaling the incline. Alan said he would meet me on the other side and raced off. I climbed up the steep hill grabbing anything I could. Frankie was proving to be quite the “wild one”. Every time Frankie escaped it resulted in a sweaty, exciting chase. Usually something wound up broken. Sometimes things wound up dead.

Dirt fell in my eyes as I made a wrong grab at a loose rock sitting in the soil. I was almost to the top and I was laughing. Frankie was helping me explore the world, even if he didn’t know it. He was also giving me a heck of a workout. When I reached the top Frankie was waiting with that same innocent look in his eyes. He couldn’t help it. His insouciance was oddly attractive. Frankie was a rogue.

One morning I went up the mountain for my work at the Hogar farm. It was a steep, exhausting, challenging hike that I wasn’t excited to take on. However the idea of keeping my integrity and showing up motivated me. As I prepared to leave my papa let me know Frankie was chilling in the yard. We both agreed he’d be fine in the yard. My dad shouted as he flipped a pancake, “Be up after the electrician shows up”. On my way I saw Frankie peeing on yet another blade of grass.

“Goodbye Frankie.”

As you’ve already guessed, it wasn’t goodbye Frankie at all. Not even a little bit. A more appropriate offering would’ve been “Goodbye peaceful morning, hello El Frankie.” Frankie, refusing to “stay”, trotted beside me down the path. As we approached a gate, I firmly told him to “go home”. Well, like most of the humans I speak to in Guatemala, this guard dog of ours had no idea what I was saying. I knocked on the gate to let my gatekeepers know I was there. Bertila, the 90 year old keeper of the gate, slowly pulled back the door. I held Frankie.

As the opening got wider Frankie got wilder.

He yelped and pulled for the other side of the gate. “No!” I pathetically shouted, trying to pretend to be in control of the situation. I squeezed through the gate frame and shut it behind me. My neighbors looked at me curiously. They were amused with my dog fight. Frankie barked and whined as he jumped against the gate. He shook the whole gate with his energetic bravado. “I gotta stop this” I thought. This was my first mistake. Thinking you can control Frankie is like thinking you can drink boiling water and not get burned; don’t do it. I went back to the gate to give him a proper scolding and in an instant Frank was by me like a dog binge-drinking Red Bull. I turned around in time to see his white, thick, Huskie tail wave a triumphant wag. He ended up running up the hill to a house by the lake.

We got Frankie back later that day. He was snatched up by our friend Chepe and spent the day tied to a post, pulling on his rope and rubbing his neck nearly raw. He’s like that. In the end I learned that maybe part of the problem was that I lose my cool when I try to manufacture control. I get flustered when things aren’t just as I want them to be. We all learned that lesson with Frankie. We’ve since figured he actually needs to be off the rope. And in learning that we actually have gained a companion. Frankie is nearly a pet now. Nearly.

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