The Hurting Place


When we’re met with a horrible reality that changes everything we have two choices.  Either we pick up and move on and overcome the pain or we wallow in it.  George chose the latter.  For ten years he had been living in a bottle of gin, tending his little bait shop, and staying away from everybody.  He liked it like that.  He didn’t want it to change.

What George did not expect, however, was the kid who showed up in his store one day and completely upended all his lamentations.  “I’m Pug,” the scrawny boy said, introducing himself.  Pug’s curiosity, openness, and wonder seeped through the cracks of George’s foundation and eventually crumbled the hard shell George had been perfecting all those years.

Pug was a different kind of boy.  He could somehow see right through George.  George dared to care for someone.  But everything went to hell again and he rushed back to the bottle.  He may have ended the whole thing there but Pug’s mother, Iris, woke him up from his stupor demanding he be responsible.  She was a good woman, young and attractive, and devoted to her son.  George hurt her boy’s  heart and she demanded George make amends.

When both of them faced more heartache than they could bare they wound up leaning upon each other, as unlikely a couple that could be.  Iris worked in George’s store to take her mind off her loss.  George enjoyed the company.  But he still reeked of self-pity and self-loathing.  Then came George’s redemption, when Iris gave him Pug’s last will and testament, a simple hand-drawn map to a little place in the woods Pug called his Hurting Place.



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George was not happy.  But that was his permanent state of being.  He lived in a haze of self-loathing.  He hated himself for what he’d done.  He’d set up his little bait shop thirty miles from the Texas coast, moved into the little apartment in the back, and just kept moving every day because there was little alternative.  His best friends were a bottle of gin and a skinny yellow cat that wandered up one day and would not go away. George figured sooner or later he’d drink himself to death.  He kept the store running for the sole purpose of being able to buy gin.  Otherwise, he’d just close it and lay in his bed ’till it all ended.  But that was the chicken way out.  He should suffer.

George was sure he’d never get out of his funk.  He had it honed very well.  But one day a boy smashed his face against the door of George’s store, peering through the glass to see what was inside.  George frowned.  He didn’t like kids.  But this one did not go away.  Instead he came through the door looking around like he was in fairyland.  He didn’t say it  but the look on his face indicated his brain was saying, “Wow!”  George didn’t know it yet but that kid would bring all the bricks of George’s house of loathing down around his ears.

The boy, whose nick-name was Pug (and real name was George but he thought that was goofy).  Pug weaseled his way into George’s life.  He took George back to earlier days, happier days.  He befriended George and although George maintained his gruff, stoic demeanor Pug made no bones about having George as a friend.

But Pug would lead George to more heart-ache and pain than he’d had already.  It wasn’t Pug’s fault, it just was.  When the greatest of tragedies struck George found a friend and some comfort in getting to know Pug’s mom, Iris.  They both struggled with what life had handed out.  But Pug gave George something that made all the difference.  He gave George a map to his Hurting Place.  It was a gift George would never forget.


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