|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.