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Movie Date: March 3, 2000




Memory is a funny thing.



 

                   

Recollections slip in and out

and around in time...



 

                   

...leaving plenty of room

to weave and backtrack...



 

                   

...and drift and glide.



 

                   

In my life, I've found that...



 

                   

...memories of the spirit

linger and sweeten...



 

                   

...long after memories

of the brain have faded.



 

                   

My fondest memories are

of my childhood days...



 

                   

...back in Yazoo, Mississippi.



  

                   

I can still see the town now.



  

                   

Ten thousand souls, and nothing doing.



  

                   

Where the old men sat drowsily

in straw-bottom chairs...



  

                   

... watching the big cars

with out-of-state plates whip by.



  

                   

Drivers hardly knowing...



  

                   

...and certainly not caring

what place this was.



  

                   

There was a war going on then.



  

                   

And it touched our lives every day.



  

                   

War, President Roosevelt

reminded us...



  

                   

...required everybody to make

sacrifices. And boy, we did.



  

                   

The cotton grew tall that year,

the summer of     ...



  

                   

...but I sure didn't.



  

                   

Matter of fact,

I stayed so small and puny...



  

                   

...l was a target

for the neighborhood bullies.



  

                   

Fortunately, I lived next door

to Dink Jenkins...



  

                   

... Yazoo's best athlete

and favorite son.



  

                   

Dink?



  

                   

Where do you think they'll send you?



  

                   

Probably Fort Benning for basic,

then overseas, I reckon.



  

                   

How long will you be gone?



  

                   

That's hard to say.



  

                   

If you're not home, who will

show me how to throw a curve ball?



  

                   

You promised to show me.



  

                   

Partner, you're gonna do just fine.



  

                   

While I'm gone, you'll make

friends your own age...



  

                   

...and who knows,

you might even meet a girl.



  

                   

Will!



  

                   

Suppertime!



  

                   

This was a time of large families.



  

                   

Four or five kids, sometimes more.



  

                   

So needless to say,

ours was already unusual...



  

                   

... what with me being the only child.



  

                   

My mother was lively and talkative.



  

                   

Certainly didn't fit

the housewife mold.



  

                   

And my daddy....



  

                   

Well, my daddy was

stern and overbearing.



  

                   

He was a war veteran

and had lost his leg in battle.



  

                   

And from most accounts,

it changed him.



  

                   

Sometimes it seemed that

along with that leg...



  

                   

...he'd also lost

a piece of his heart.



  

                   

You know l.C.? Colored fellow

at the service station?



  

                   

Sure.



  

                   

-His son came back from Europe today.

-Wonderful.



  

                   

In a box.



  

                   

Somebody around here's gonna

be having a birthday pretty soon.



  

                   

You been thinking about

how you want to celebrate?



  

                   

A party maybe?



  

                   

Will, your mother

asked you a question.



  

                   

Stop. You're lucky to have

that food, with the rationing.



  

                   

Would you like a party?



  

                   

I guess.



  

                   

I picked these up today

at Carr's drugstore.



  

                   

Invitations?



  

                   

You can't very well have a party

without guests, now can you?



  

                   

After supper, you fill them out and

give them to your friends tomorrow.



  

                   

Like who?



  

                   

What about John Abner?



  

                   

He's  . He still wets his pants.



  

                   

There are plenty of children

who would love to attend your party.



  

                   

Your mother went to a lot

of trouble to get invitations.



  

                   

And you will fill them out.



  

                   

Can I be excused?



  

                   

Yes, you may.



  

                   

Don't forget your invitations.



  

                   

What are we gonna do?



  

                   

He's gonna be so lonely without Dink.



  

                   

Maybe we should reconsider

what we talked about before.



  

                   

Absolutely not.

We've been over this already.



  

                   

It is not a good idea.

Not for Will, not now.



  

                   

He is still too young.



  

                   

-Y'all be careful.

-All right, we will!



  

                   

Hey, you wait for us!



  

                   

Smile.



  

                   

You take care, you hear?



  

                   

Come on, Jenkins!



  

                   

Can't keep old Adolf a-waitin' !



  

                   

Fellas, y'all want to come?



  

                   

We was wondering... .



  

                   

We wanted you to sign our football.



  

                   

You know, as a souvenir.



  

                   

All right.



  

                   

Beside Slingin' Sammy Baugh.



  

                   

His name came with the ball.



  

                   

This might be a little soon,

don't you think?



  

                   

I ain't even played college ball yet.



  

                   

Jenkins, come on. Let's go!



  

                   

-Thanks, Dink.

-Let me see!



  

                   

Willie-boy, aren't you

gonna wish me luck?



  

                   

Y'all give me a second, okay?



  

                   

What's the matter?



   

                   

When I get back, I'll show you

how to throw that curve ball.



   

                   

Really?



   

                   

Shoot, yeah, really.

Don't forget to write me.



   

                   

Give the letters to my mama.

She'll send them.



   

                   

I want you to tell me everything

that happens around here, okay?



   

                   

Don't leave nothing out.



   

                   

All right?



   

                   

This is mine.



   

                   

I hope it'll mean something to you.



   

                   

You didn't think I'd forget

your birthday, did you?



   

                   

Thanks, Dink.



   

                   

I'll see you.



   

                   

See you!



   

                   

Good luck!



   

                   

Here we go now!



   

                   

Bye-bye, ladies!



   

                   

Twenty-four,   

hut, hut!



   

                   

Pass it. Here, I'm open!



   

                   

Hon.



   

                   

Hon?!



   

                   

Goofball can't even catch!



   

                   

Time to come in.



   

                   

Why didn't you catch it,

you big titty-baby?



   

                   

Let me see it.



   

                   

I can't believe that titty-baby lives

right next door to Dink Jenkins.



   

                   

What a waste!



   

                   

Here, let me help you.



   

                   

They say this is what all the dapper

young men in Memphis are wearing.



   

                   

Thank you, Grandma.



   

                   

Huck Finn! Thank you, Grandpa!



   

                   

There's cussing in it.



   

                   

There.



   

                   

A pocketknife!



   

                   

Relax, worry-boy.



   

                   

It's just fingernail clippers.



   

                   

It does have a blade, though.



   

                   

Thank you, Aunt Maggie.



   

                   

This one's from me.



   

                   

It was mine when I was a boy.



   

                   

Thank you, Daddy. It's nice.



   

                   

Say thank you for your nice presents.



   

                   

Wait.



   

                   

There's one more.



   

                   

I thought we agreed.



   

                   

You agreed.



   

                   

This is from Daddy and me.



   

                   

I hope you like it.



   

                   

You mean he's mine?!



   

                   

He's all yours.



   

                   

I hope you like it.



   

                   

I'm sorry.



   

                   

Jack, be sensible.



   

                   

Your mother made a mistake.



   

                   

-We can't keep a dog. Not now.

-What?



   

                   

Maybe next year.



   

                   

But why?



   

                   

I know you're disappointed...



   

                   

...but I want you to know that...



   

                   

...I'm gonna find

a real good home for him.



   

                   

I know you're upset with us.



   

                   

I'm so sorry about what happened.



   

                   

Did you ever get your birthday present

taken away from you?



   

                   

Your father just doesn't think

you're quite ready for a dog yet.



   

                   

I am ready to have a dog. I'm  .



   

                   

Lots of kids younger

than me have dogs.



   

                   

Ralph Atkinson. He's only  .



   

                   

He has two dogs, a cat and bird.



   

                   

He can stick his head

in the dog's mouth.



   

                   

That's impressive.



   

                   

I can take care of a dog, Mom.



   

                   

Really, I can.



   

                   

You just be a big boy

about this, okay?



   

                   

He'll be fine.



   

                   

I don't think so.



   

                   

You know...



   

                   

...if anybody here

deserves to be angry, it's me.



   

                   

You went behind my back.



   

                   

You didn't give me any choice.

I tried to reason with you.



   

                   

-That was dishonest.

-You want to talk about honesty?



   

                   

Then you tell the truth.



   

                   

-Why don't you want him to have a dog?

-I already told you.



   

                   

He's a little boy,

and a dog is a big responsibility.



   

                   

He's not a baby. He's a

responsible boy who needs a friend.



   

                   

And what happens when

he becomes attached to that dog?



   

                   

Learns to love it?



   

                   

I thought that was the general idea.



   

                   

Dogs die. They get sick.



   

                   

They run away, get hit by cars.

They're a heartbreak waiting to happen.



   

                   

He's not ready for that.



   

                   

He's frail, he's sensitive

and he can't handle it.



   

                   

How do you know what he can handle?



   

                   

You don't give him a chance.



   

                   

I know all about loss.



   

                   

Experienced more than my fair share.



   

                   

It's hard enough on an adult.

A boy shouldn't have to.



   

                   

So you're gonna

shelter him from life?



   

                   

For how long?



   

                   

He keeps the dog.



   

                   

For two weeks.



   

                   

If there's a problem,

I'll take it to the farm myself.



   

                   

Jack...



   

                   

...Will deserves this chance.

He needs it.



   

                   

Wait, l... .



   

                   

-I haven't agreed to that.

-I'm not asking.



   

                   

Hey, boy!



   

                   

What's the matter?



   

                   

You miss your mommy and daddy?



   

                   

Your brothers and sisters?



   

                   

I'll take care of you.



   

                   

Don't be scared.



   

                   

I've got you.



   

                   

I'm an only child...



   

                   

...and now you're an only dog.



   

                   

I met him on the day I turned  .



   

                   

He was just a trembling ball of fur.



   

                   

Scared and shy as I was.



   

                   

That night, lying in bed

before sleep...



   

                   

...l felt the beating of his heart

against my body.



   

                   

And though I didn't know it then,

he was to change my life forever.



   

                   

My dog, Skip.



   

                   

My best and most steadfast friend.



   

                   

Skip and I instantly

became the best of friends.



   

                   

He didn't mind that

I was scrawny and shy...



   

                   

...or that I liked books

a whole lot more than football.



   

                   

It was unconditional love

on both our parts.



   

                   

You've grown almost   inches.



   

                   

You could talk to him as well as

you could talk to many human beings.



   

                   

And much better than

you could talk to some.



   

                   

He'd sit down, look you

straight in the eye...



   

                   

...and when he understood you,

he'd turn his head sideways.



   

                   

I watched Skip grow from the puppy

who came to me from a farm...



   

                   

...into a sleek and dexterous,

affectionate dog.



   

                   

Skip became a true member

of the family.



   

                   

We played games together,

did household chores.



   

                   

That's my boy.



   

                   

Even my father had to admit...



   

                   

... Skip was an exceptional dog.



   

                   

What?



   

                   

-Look at that, Margaret!

-Take a look at that!



   

                   

Honk the horn, Skip!



   

                   

Yes, sir.



   

                   

Or should I say, "yes, sirs"?



   

                   

Pound of sausage, please.

I have our coupons.



   

                   

Think your friend there

might like a piece of bologna?



   

                   

I never met a dog that didn't

appreciate a good piece of bologna.



   

                   

Nobody has to know about that but us.



   

                   

-Did you have those chops?

-Yes, ma'am. Coming right up.



   

                   

Is this your dog?



   

                   

Skipper.



   

                   

Skip, for short.



   

                   

He's sweet.



   

                   

Rivers, let's go.



   

                   

Yes, ma'am.



   

                   

See you at school.



   

                   

Yeah. See you.



   

                   

Looks like he done did you a favor.



   

                   

Skip, I can't see a thing.



   

                   

I'm sorry.



   

                   

-Skip, where are you, boy?

-Find a seat!



   

                   

Hey, cutie!



   

                   

-Come on down, boy.

-Sit down!



   

                   

-Down!

-Will you sit down, please?



   

                   

Why don't you sit down?

Your dog's sitting.



   

                   

I'm real sorry.



   

                   

I usually just let him

choose the seats.



   

                   

I seen.



   

                   

He's sitting by Rivers Applewhite.



   

                   

I can't believe it!



   

                   

The world ain't fair, I'm telling you.



   

                   

I guess girls must really go for dogs.



   

                   

Freedom...



   

                   

...means the supremacy

of human rights everywhere.



   

                   

How long does it take mail

to get to Europe?



   

                   

Where in Europe?



   

                   

Where Dink is.

Foxhole in the south of France.



   

                   

Are you for Roosevelt, boy?



   

                   

What do you think about Hitler?



   

                   

Mrs. Jenkins, it's us.



   

                   

Come on in, fellas.

Be right with you.



   

                   

Another letter already?



   

                   

You know how to throw a curve?



   

                   

Dink's gonna show me

when he gets home.



   

                   

Who's Dink?



   

                   

Where are you from? Mars?



   

                   

Nope. Right across town over there.



   

                   

And you haven't heard of Dink Jenkins?



   

                   

He's only the best ballplayer

anywhere around here. Ever.



   

                   

Well, you haven't seen Waldo Grace.



   

                   

He a colored boy?



   

                   

Yep, and the best in the whole world.



   

                   

Besides Dink.



   

                   

He likes you.



   

                   

You got mail!



   

                   

From overseas.



   

                   

Look at this.



   

                   

Oh, boy!



   

                   

"And he said to his sons,

'Saddle the ass for me.'



   

                   

So they saddled the ass for him

and mounted it. "



   

                   

This right here is a musket

used in the Civil War.



   

                   

Now, then...



   

                   

...we have time for just one more.



   

                   

-Who would like to be next?

-I have a show-and-tell.



   

                   

This right here is

a German army helmet.



   

                   

Inside it says, "Hans" .



   

                   

It's a dead Kraut's helmet.



   

                   

That ain't no real Kraut helmet.



   

                   

This is an ammo belt

with some writing. It says:



   

                   

"Gott mit uns, " which means,

"God with us" in German.



   

                   

They think God's on their side?



   

                   

That right there proves

the stuff's not real.



   

                   

And this is a letter...



   

                   

...from a real GI fighting overseas.



   

                   

"Dear Willie:



   

                   

Boy, was I ever happy to get

your letter and news of home.



   

                   

I can't wait to meet Skip.



   

                   

He sounds like a world-class dog.



   

                   

I can't tell you exactly where I am...



   

                   

...but I can tell you they don't serve

French fries in France. Hint, hint.



   

                   

And that all Kraut is sauerkraut,

if you ask me. Ha-ha-ha.



   

                   

Keep those letters coming, Willie-boy.



   

                   

And don't let anybody go breaking

my records while I'm gone.



   

                   

We'll have these boys licked soon...



   

                   

...and I'll be home in time

for baseball season.



   

                   

Signed, your friend and neighbor...



   

                   

...Private First-Class...



   

                   

...Dink Jenkins. "



   

                   

I read my letter from Dink today.



   

                   

Where'd you really get

that stuff, you big sissy?



   

                   

Give me that damn letter!



   

                   

Get up and fight!



   

                   

We playing ball or not?



   

                   

You want your stuff back?



   

                   

Then you gotta play ball.



   

                   

Twenty-four, hut!



   

                   

Go out with it.



   

                   

Touchdown!



   

                   

Get him! Stay with him!



   

                   

Look! Look! Did you see that?

They scored.



   

                   

Get up!



   

                   

I don't care if you're hurt!

Take the ball. I don't care.



   

                   

I told you.

Stay up here with the ball!



   

                   

Run! Run!



   

                   

Run!



   

                   

Might as well stay down there.

You're not doing any good.



   

                   

Okay, it's our ball.



   

                   

Get the ball!



   

                   

You little baby.



   

                   

Fourteen,   ...



   

                   

...    . Set. Hut, hut.



   

                   

Get the ball, Will!

Get the ball, Will!



   

                   

Run! Run!



   

                   

Run for touchdown!



   

                   

Run, Will, run! Run for touchdown!



   

                   

Run! Run!



   

                   

We won, Skip!

We scored a touchdown!



   

                   

Dog pile!



   

                   

Not a bad run, Willie, for a sissy.



   

                   

You missed!



   

                   

Throw it higher.



   

                   

If I throw any harder,

I'll break the window.



   

                   

I bet he's asleep.



   

                   

What is it, boy?



   

                   

-He probably sleeps with teddy bears.

-I hate teddy bears.



   

                   

-Or with his mom.

-Bet he's still got his baby blanket.



   

                   

There he is.



   

                   

Nice pajamas.



   

                   

Come on down.



   

                   

I better not.



   

                   

Don't make me come up there

and get you, "Wilma" .



   

                   

Little baby!



   

                   

I'll be right down.



   

                   

Bring that Kraut stuff.



   

                   

And the dog.



   

                   

And clean underwear,

if you scare easy.



   

                   

It's you, Skip.



   

                   

You scared me there, boy.



   

                   

Go on back to bed.



   

                   

Go on.



   

                   

Big Boy.



   

                   

Spit.



   

                   

Where y'all at?



   

                   

You want to be one of us?



   

                   

Maybe. I mean...



   

                   

...I guess.



   

                   

Then you gotta pass the test.



   

                   

Where are we going?



   

                   

You know who's buried here,

don't you?



   

                   

My uncle's buried here.



   

                   

No, stupid.



   

                   

The witch.



   

                   

The witch of Yazoo.



   

                   

That's just an old wives' tale.



   

                   

That's what you think, buster.



   

                   

She was a genuine witch.



   

                   

Everybody knows she used to lure men

to her house to kill them.



   

                   

Why, she even let her cats...



   

                   

...Iick their bones

after she got done with them.



   

                   

That is, until she got killed herself.



   

                   

You sure you wanna be one of us?



   

                   

I guess.



   

                   

One night, a boy about our age...



   

                   

...Iooked through her window...



   

                   

...and what he saw

chilled him right to the bone.



   

                   

He saw her murder two men

with her bare hands.



   

                   

The boy ran and told the cops...



   

                   

...and they got up a posse and chased

that witch into Miller's swamp.



   

                   

Before they could catch her,

she got stuck in quicksand.



   

                   

And slowly, as she sank

in the quicksand...



   

                   

...she swore two things:



   

                   

First...



   

                   

...one day she'd rise up from the

grave and burn down the whole town!



   

                   

And the other thing she swore was...



   

                   

...she'd find that boy who ratted

on her and drag him down to hell!



   

                   

If you stay all night, we'll know

for sure that you're one of us.



   

                   

But if you don't...



   

                   

...Dink's Kraut stuff is ours.



   

                   

And if we do stay all night...



   

                   

...we get the football signed by Dink.



   

                   

You got yourself a deal.



   

                   

Here.



   

                   

You might need this.



   

                   

Come on, Skip.



   

                   

I'll take the first watch, boy.



   

                   

You rest.



   

                   

I give him    minutes.



   

                   

If he stays...



   

                   

...he's a better man than me.



   

                   

And if she kills him...



   

                   

...I got dibs on that dog.



   

                   

A sunbeam



   

                   

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam



   

                   

A sunbeam



   

                   

I'll be a sunbeam for Him



   

                   

Oh, no!



   

                   

-Junior, we did real good this week.

-Just hurry up.



   

                   

If we get to lzzard County,

they'll pay twice as much.



   

                   

Those boys get real thirsty out there.



   

                   

Don't you know it!



   

                   

What the hell you doing?

Put that back.



   

                   

-I'm keeping a bottle for myself.

-You're drinking up all the profits.



   

                   

Moonshiners!



   

                   

Millard, shut that mutt up.



   

                   

Hey, doggy! Who's a nice doggy?



   

                   

I'm good with dogs.



   

                   

Shut him up, unless you want

to go back to the joint.



   

                   

Goddamn it!



   

                   

I'll take care of this mutt!



   

                   

-What was that?

-Let's get out of here, Skip!



   

                   

Run!



   

                   

Get that kid!



   

                   

Come on, Skip!



   

                   

It's no use, kid!

I'm gonna find you!



   

                   

Let's get out of here, Skip.



   

                   

Where do you think you're going?



   

                   

Listen to me, you little worm.



   

                   

You tell anybody where

we're hiding this...



   

                   

...you'll wake up to find

a dead pooch on your porch.



   

                   

See...



   

                   

...I been needing me a new billfold.



   

                   

I think one made out of genuine

dog hide would be right slick.



   

                   

Now, you look like a smart kid.



   

                   

You move one little pinkie

before the sun comes up...



   

                   

...you better think hard

about life without that mutt.



   

                   

Everybody needs a friend.



   

                   

Come on.



   

                   

Think I scared him enough?



   

                   

I think he peed his pants.



   

                   

Gonna have to change those shorts.



   

                   

Damn!



   

                   

He killed a whole six-pack!



   

                   

He slept right by her grave.



   

                   

Damn!



   

                   

Because of Skip,

I was able to cross...



   

                   

... the threshold

from childhood to boyhood...



   

                   

...from being on the outside...



   

                   

... to finding myself smack-dab

in the middle.



   

                   

He helped open my eyes

to the wonders of life.



   

                   

And I got to know the delta

like the palm of my hand.



   

                   

Every bend in the road,

every slope, every field.



   

                   

It became as familiar to me

as grass or sunlight.



   

                   

But Skip opened my eyes

to other things too.



   

                   

-Sorry we're late.

-That's okay. I was late too.



   

                   

He likes you.



   

                   

I like him too. A lot.



   

                   

Huck Finn.



   

                   

It's about a boy who has adventures.



   

                   

This is Caddie Woodlawn.

It's about a girl who has adventures.



   

                   

Not too many boys like reading.



   

                   

I do.



   

                   

I'm thinking of becoming a writer.



   

                   

Either that or a U.S. senator.

One of those.



   

                   

I'll probably be a writer too.



   

                   

Or a pilot.



   

                   

Or maybe even a senator's wife.

Something like that.



   

                   

Well, I haven't really decided yet.



   

                   

Me neither.



   

                   

Hey, Skip!



   

                   

Hello there, Skip.



   

                   

Skip grew to know Yazoo too.



   

                   

It was a good place to grow up

for dogs as well as boys.



   

                   

Being friendly, he occasionally

wandered around town by himself...



   

                   

...and anyone of any consequence

knew who he was.



   

                   

One of Skip's favorite spots

was my dear old Aunt Maggie's.



   

                   

Her bridge games meant

finger sandwiches for the taking.



   

                   

And the strange creature

that was her pet...



   

                   

... was an endless source

of one-sided conversation.



   

                   

Lordy, Lordy! Lord have mercy!



   

                   

Lordy, Lordy! Lord have mercy!



   

                   

Y'all come back!



   

                   

Like all dogs, Skip was colorblind.



   

                   

He made friends easily with

people of all races and origins.



   

                   

The town was segregated back then...



   

                   

...but as we know, dogs are

a whole lot smarter than people.



   

                   

That's Waldo Grace.



   

                   

Nice and easy. That's it.



   

                   

That's my Skip.



   

                   

Come on, boy.



   

                   

Bye.



   

                   

-Any of y'all heard of Waldo Grace?

-Who?



   

                   

Waldo Grace. Colored boy.



   

                   

They say he's better than Dink.



   

                   

You shut up.



   

                   

They say he's good at every sport.



   

                   

Let me tell you.



   

                   

Nobody around here

can beat Dink at nothing.



   

                   

Especially no colored boy.



   

                   

I'd like to see how good he is.



   

                   

Who's that man with the black mask?

He doesn't belong to the special army.



   

                   

After him, men!



   

                   

Uncle Sam is looking

for a few good...



   

                   

...dogs!



   

                   

That's right.



   

                   

Some ofAmerica's bravest soldiers

salute by wagging their tails.



   

                   

Yankee Doodle doggies from all over...



   

                   

...have dedicated their lives

to winning the war.



   

                   

Members of the Army's

crack K-  Corps...



   

                   

...undergo a training as rigorous

as that of our fighting men.



   

                   

Take that, Adolf!



   

                   

We're not pulling your leg.

We mean business!



   

                   

But not all of our four-legged

Gls make it home.



   

                   

Even the youngsters do their part.



   

                   

Para-pups, they're called,

and they aid our boys in the air.



   

                   

Who says dogs can't fly?



   

                   

Safe and sound on the ground.

Another successful mission.



   

                   

After a hard day's work,

these puppies need some R and R.



   

                   

Front and center, Fido.

Enlist today!



   

                   

Hup      ! Hup      !



   

                   

We'll bomb them, and then

come down here to Libya...



   

                   

...and bomb the rest of the guys.

You got it?



   

                   

Go! Go! Go!



   

                   

Way to go, Skip!



   

                   

Those are the bad guys.

The Germans.



   

                   

Hitler!



   

                   

You want to kill Hitler!



   

                   

He's ready.



   

                   

That's about     inches high.

That's tall for a terrier.



   

                   

He's a real good eater, sir.



   

                   

I'm sure.



   

                   

I see.



   

                   

What?



   

                   

Mr. Morris...



   

                   

...this is as fine an animal as

I've ever had the chance to encounter.



   

                   

Sir, thank you, sir.



   

                   

And I know Uncle Sam could use him,

except he's  -F.



   

                   

 -F?



   

                   

Yes, canine  -F.



   

                   

You see, his left testicle

hasn't descended.



   

                   

But I appreciate you bringing him in.



   

                   

Lieutenant, sir...



   

                   

...Skip would like another chance.



   

                   

He obeys orders really well and--



   

                   

I really appreciate your patriotism...



   

                   

...but I've got work to do.



   

                   

Sit.



   

                   

Sit!



   

                   

Roll over.



   

                   

Play dead!



   

                   

Canine  -F! I can't believe it.



   

                   

He obeys orders really well, I know.



   

                   

And he can do all those tricks.



   

                   

I don't know what got into him.



   

                   

Maybe he just got scared.



   

                   

You saying my dog's a chicken?



   

                   

I'm not saying your dog's chicken.

I'm saying maybe he got scared.



   

                   

Dink's coming home!

My boy's coming home!



   

                   

Yes, Dink's coming home!



   

                   

Bet he's got a bag of medals.



   

                   

Is he there? ls he there on the bus?



   

                   

Well, I don't see him.



   

                   

There he is!



   

                   

Welcome home, sugar!



   

                   

He just missed the bus, that's all.



   

                   

It's okay.

He'll be on the next bus.



   

                   

What's wrong?



   

                   

Look, a cigarette wrapper!



   

                   

One little old piece of tinfoil

ain't gonna win no scrap drive.



   

                   

You know, it's been two whole weeks...



   

                   

...and Dink hasn't even

come out of his house yet.



   

                   

Willie, when you saw him,

was he wearing his uniform?



   

                   

Was he wounded?



   

                   

It was really dark.

I couldn't tell for sure.



   

                   

But I bet he's got a lot of medals

to show us when he gets ready.



   

                   

My old man said

he didn't win no medals at all.



   

                   

Yeah, my pop says he's a drunk.



   

                   

I heard worse than that.

I heard he turned tail and ran.



   

                   

Broke his own record

in the     -yard dash.



   

                   

Where are you going?



   

                   

What's eating him?



   

                   

Watch out for the poison oak there.



   

                   

Can almost taste

that blackberry pie already.



   

                   

Should be some nice, thick bushes

in around here.



   

                   

Now, look.



   

                   

See that hickory over yonder?



   

                   

The one that looks like

he's got a broken arm?



   

                   

That's lightning.



   

                   

Now, see, you always want

to leave a mark...



   

                   

...so you can find your way home.



   

                   

Dad?



   

                   

Whatever happened to your leg?



   

                   

Now, you know what happened to my leg.



   

                   

Lost it in the Spanish Civil War...



   

                   

...when you was just a baby.



   

                   

Where is it now, you think?



   

                   

Well, somewheres in Catalonia,

I suppose.



   

                   

Does it ever itch or hurt?



   

                   

You know, like the way they say?



   

                   

It hurts.



   

                   

But they gave you

a medal for it, right?



   

                   

I'd rather have the leg.



   

                   

Now, look there.



   

                   

There's an old gray squirrel.



   

                   

Go get him, boy!



   

                   

You almost got him, boy.



   

                   

Hunters. Take a knee.



   

                   

Real slow.



   

                   

Hello!



   

                   

Over here!  :  !



   

                   

Don't move!



   

                   

We'll come to you!



   

                   

Was the war like this?



   

                   

Boys.



   

                   

Would you look at that?



   

                   

She's something, all right.



   

                   

Or was.



   

                   

Daddy... .



   

                   

She's still alive.



   

                   

Shouldn't we call a vet or something?



   

                   

We better get going. Come on.



   

                   

Come on.



   

                   

Y'all come by for some

venison chili now, real soon.



   

                   

Will do.



   

                   

The seasons in our region ofAmerica

seemed to have minds of their own.



   

                   

The fields in winter

looked so barren...



   

                   

... that it seemed nothing

could ever grow there again...



   

                   

...like the dark sky would last

the rest of the year.



   

                   

Then, magically, spring would come...



   

                   

...and catch us

by surprise every time.



   

                   

And there were

so many surprises that year.



   

                   

Who'd have thought that my daddy

would ever let me play football?



   

                   

Who'd have dreamed

that Rivers Applewhite...



   

                   

... the prettiest girl in town,

would let me hold her hand?



   

                   

It's a funny book.



   

                   

It was indeed

a strange and unusual time.



   

                   

Old Skip had helped me

through the struggles of boyhood.



   

                   

But his job was far from done.



   

                   

And now...



   

                   

...wearing the famous number eight...



   

                   

...it's Willie Morris!



   

                   

Morris! Morris!



   

                   

No, Skip!



   

                   

This is only an official

regulation uniform...



   

                   

...Iike they wear in the bigs.



   

                   

Haven't seen you around much.



   

                   

I've been pretty busy.



   

                   

I'm playing some ball now, you know.



   

                   

Oh, yeah? That's good.



   

                   

Right.



   

                   

Well, see you.



   

                   

It's opening day.



   

                   

That's what they call

the first game of the season.



   

                   

I was sort of wondering if... .



   

                   

I was hoping that maybe...



   

                   

...you might come.



   

                   

Yeah, sure, kid. That'd be fine.



   

                   

Really?



   

                   

Okay. Great.



   

                   

Well, I better get on down there.



   

                   

See you.



   

                   

Thanks for picking my number.



   

                   

Come on, Spit!



   

                   

Dadgum it, Morris!



   

                   

How many times do I

have to tell you...



   

                   

...this is no place for dogs?

Now get him out of here!



   

                   

This isn't a game, you know.



   

                   

It ain't?



   

                   

Get him out of here.



   

                   

Come on, Skip.

Go sit by Rivers, okay?



   

                   

Hey, Skip. You can sit by me.



   

                   

Be a hitter now.

Make him pitch to you.



   

                   

Watch him close!

Morris, you're on deck.



   

                   

Let's go, Cliff.



   

                   

Let's go, now.



   

                   

He's on deck.



   

                   

That's the way, Cliff.

Watch him close.



   

                   

Good swing! Good swing!



   

                   

Willie, you're so dreamy!



   

                   

Aren't you embarrassed

to be wearing Dink's number?



   

                   

I know I wouldn't be caught dead

wearing that crazy eight.



   

                   

-How about you, Henj?

-No way.



   

                   

Did y'all hear Dink's gonna

play minor-league ball?



   

                   

Really?



   

                   

He's gonna be the star runner

for the Memphis Chickens!



   

                   

Well, let's go, son!

We don't got all day.



   

                   

Play ball!



   

                   

Watch the ball, son.



   

                   

Strike one!



   

                   

Strike two!



   

                   

Come on, Willie!



   

                   

You can do it, honey!



   

                   

Strike three!

You're out of there!



   

                   

That's okay, Willie.



   

                   

Let's go. Next batter.



   

                   

Swing, batter, batter!



   

                   

Swing, batter, batter. Swing!



   

                   

It's all right, Willie!



   

                   

He's upset. I wish there was

some way we could help.



   

                   

Get out of here!



   

                   

We're trying to play baseball!



   

                   

Time! Get that dog out of here!



   

                   

Get out of here!

You're supposed to be by Rivers!



   

                   

Get that dog out of here!

We're trying to play ball.



   

                   

Skip, get!



   

                   

Go home! Now!



   

                   

You're being bad! Now go!



   

                   

Go home!



   

                   

Willie, what's wrong with you?!



   

                   

I'm home!



   

                   

Skip, I'm home.



   

                   

Where are you?



   

                   

Where are you, boy?



   

                   

Here, Skipper!



   

                   

Here, boy!



   

                   

Barney, have you seen Skip?



   

                   

Well, let me see... .



   

                   

He came in for bologna this morning.



   

                   

On his way to the ball game,

I believe.



   

                   

If you see him, can you tell him

I'm looking for him?



   

                   

Don't you go worrying about him.

He'll turn up.



   

                   

You know, that dog is

plumb crazy about you, boy.



   

                   

Junior, how come I end up

carrying all the crates?



   

                   

Because you're the worker,

and I'm the brains of this operation.



   

                   

How's that?



   

                   

Because I can spell my name.



   

                   

Let's move it.

We got people waiting.



   

                   

I just wish you'd get us our money.



   

                   

Just come on now. Come on.



   

                   

I don't do this for free.



   

                   

Shut your trap.

I'm sick of your whining.



   

                   

Shut up and lift. Come on.



   

                   

Have you seen Skip?

I can't find him.



   

                   

I wouldn't blame him

if he never came back...



   

                   

...after the way you treated him!



   

                   

He was only trying to help.



   

                   

Please help me.

I just got to find him.



   

                   

Okay. I'll be right down.



   

                   

But, Willie...



   

                   

...I'm not doing it for you.

I'm doing it for him.



   

                   

Where are you?



   

                   

Come on home, boy!



   

                   

Yeah, and school.



   

                   

The baseball and football fields too.



   

                   

And the park.



   

                   

Deserters...



   

                   

...puppy dogs and now girls.



   

                   

Guess we were wrong about you, Wilma.



   

                   

Skip's lost.



   

                   

We gotta find him.



   

                   

Won't you help us find him?



   

                   

"Won't you help us find him?"



   

                   

Listen, Skip's missing.



   

                   

We're gonna find him.



   

                   

You want to help? Fine.



   

                   

You don't? You can stick it

up your big, fat butt.



   

                   

Who said I didn't want to help?

Let's go.



   

                   

Spread out.



   

                   

Look everywhere, and ask everyone.



   

                   

Skip been around here?



   

                   

Not for a couple days.



   

                   

Here, Skip.



   

                   

Skip, are you here?



   

                   

Here, Skip.



   

                   

Come on home, boy!



   

                   

Here, Skipper!



   

                   

Sheriff, Jack Morris.



   

                   

Well, my son's little dog, Skip,

has gone missing and... .



   

                   

Yeah, they're all out looking for him,

but he hasn't turned up yet.



   

                   

So I was wondering if you could just

let us know if you see him.



   

                   

We would surely appreciate it.



   

                   

Thank you, sheriff.



   

                   

You bawling like a big baby

because you lost that ball game?



   

                   

What do you know about it?



   

                   

You didn't even come, you big liar.

Leave me alone.



   

                   

That's how it is, isn't it?

You're a hero today...



   

                   

...and you're a goat tomorrow.



   

                   

Now, I didn't come, because games

don't mean nothing to me anymore.



   

                   

It's not the game.



   

                   

It's Skip.



   

                   

He's gone for good.



   

                   

For good?



   

                   

How you know that?

You some kind of fortuneteller?



   

                   

I got mad at him and I hit him.

And he ran away.



   

                   

Just like you ran away.



   

                   

Skip was never afraid of nothing.



   

                   

You think I don't know

what folks are saying?



   

                   

That old Dink's a coward?



   

                   

Well, I know. And you know what?



   

                   

They're right.

I got scared. And I ran.



   

                   

You think it's because

I was afraid of dying?



   

                   

Because I wished I was dead

plenty of times.



   

                   

Then what was it?



   

                   

It ain't the dying that's scary, boy.



   

                   

It's the killing.



   

                   

Now, look.



   

                   

That dog ain't lost. You just

need to know where to find him.



   

                   

There's gotta be at least

one place around here...



   

                   

...that you hadn't thought of

to look at, right?



   

                   

Sometimes he gets mad

and says things he doesn't mean.



   

                   

He gets it from his mother.



   

                   

When I got back from Spain...



   

                   

...I got into accounting.



   

                   

I figured I could hide this

behind a desk.



   

                   

I looked down, and I didn't so much

as look up for a whole year.



   

                   

When I finally did...



   

                   

...people weren't staring

at me anymore.



   

                   

I guess they kind of forgot about it.



   

                   

Well, Mr. Morris,

you got a Purple Heart.



   

                   

I got a yellow stripe.



   

                   

You can trust me.

They don't forget about cowards.



   

                   

Well, folks like

to keep things small, Dink.



   

                   

Fit you into one pocket or the other.



   

                   

Give a man a label...



   

                   

...and you never really

need to get to know him.



   

                   

My son...



   

                   

...he looks up to you, Dink.



   

                   

Not because you can run or throw a ball.



   

                   

You're his hero...



   

                   

...because you're his friend.



   

                   

And that's what he needs.



   

                   

A friend.



   

                   

All right, then.



   

                   

Here, Skipper!



   

                   

Here, boy!



   

                   

Here, boy!



   

                   

What the hell?!



   

                   

Damn mutt.



   

                   

What'd you do to him?!

That's my dog!



   

                   

I told you to keep

that damn mutt out of here.



   

                   

Why, if it ain't old Dink.

Need a jar of hooch, buddy?



   

                   

Millard, fetch a pint for Dink.



   

                   

Listen, you boys need

to get on out of here.



   

                   

This your buddy?



   

                   

You know how much he

and that mongrel cost us?



   

                   

I said you need to get out of here.



   

                   

Millard, listen to who's talking.



   

                   

Mr. Hitler's best friend.



   

                   

It's you who better get out of here.



   

                   

Get your moonshine

and get out of here.



   

                   

And I better never see you

around here again. Got that?



   

                   

Come on, Junior. Let's go.



   

                   

Come on!



   

                   

It's getting too damn popular

around here anyway.



   

                   

You better hope that dog lives.



   

                   

Any word?



   

                   

It doesn't look good.



   

                   

Could you come on back, please?



   

                   

Do you want someone to go with you?



   

                   

He's a big boy.



   

                   

He'll be okay.



   

                   

Is he gonna die?



   

                   

I don't know.



   

                   

I've done all I can.



   

                   

It's in God's hands now.



   

                   

Please don't die, boy.



   

                   

What would I do without you?



   

                   

You taught me how to play football.



   

                   

You helped me meet the guys...



   

                   

...and get up enough nerve

to talk to Rivers.



   

                   

And understand about Dink.



   

                   

I'll never have another

friend like you. Ever.



   

                   

Skip's gonna be all right.



   

                   

You're all right!



   

                   

That's my boy.



   

                   

I love you, Skip.



   

                   

I knew you'd make it.



   

                   

I almost lost old Skip that day.



   

                   

Even as he was sleeping

on the operating table...



   

                   

...he was still teaching me.



   

                   

That day...



   

                   

...l became a young man.



   

                   

Why, in childhood and youth...



   

                   

...do we wish time

to pass so quickly?



   

                   

We want to grow up so fast.



   

                   

Yet as adults,

we wish just the opposite.



   

                   

You're a good boy, Skip.



   

                   

If, as the authorities

often declare...



   

                   

...a dog's life in relation

to a human being's...



   

                   

...can be calculated by

seven human years to his one...



   

                   

... then Skip was an adult

when I was still a boy.



   

                   

Sometimes it seemed as if he possessed

the wisdom of a creature...



   

                   

...as old as time.



   

                   

All the lessons you learn

in childhood...



   

                   

...kind of come in waves.



   

                   

We finally saw Waldo Grace play.



   

                   

And play, and play, and play.



   

                   

In remembering moments

such as these...



   

                   

...l retain the sad,

sweet reflection...



   

                   

...of being an only child

and having a loyal and loving dog.



   

                   

For the struggles of my life...



   

                   

...of the dangers, toils and snares

of my childhood hymns...



   

                   

...loyalty and love...



   

                   

...are the best things of all...



   

                   

...and surely the most lasting.



   

                   

The day finally arrived for me

to move away from home.



   

                   

I was awarded a scholarship

to attend Oxford University in England.



   

                   

A long way from Yazoo, Mississippi...



   

                   

...and a long way

from my family and friends.



   

                   

The dog of your boyhood...



   

                   

... teaches you a great deal

about friendship and love and death.



   

                   

I was an only child.



   

                   

He was an only dog.



   

                   

Old Skip was    ...



   

                   

...and feeble with arthritis...



   

                   

...but he never lost that

old devilish look in his eye.



   

                   

He made my room his own.



   

                   

Came across an old photo

of him not long ago.



   

                   

His little face...



   

                   

... with the long snout sniffing

at something in the air.



   

                   

His tail was straight out

and pointing...



   

                   

...eyes were flashing

in some momentary excitement.



   

                   

He always loved to be rubbed

on the back of his neck.



   

                   

And when I did it,

he'd yawn, and he'd stretch...



   

                   

...reach out to me with his paws...



   

                   

...as if he was trying to embrace me.



   

                   

I received a transatlantic

call one day.



   

                   

"Skip died"...



   

                   

...Daddy said.



   

                   

He and my mama wrapped him

in my baseball jacket.



   

                   

They buried him out

under our elm tree, they said.



   

                   

That wasn't totally true...



   

                   

...for he really lay buried...



   

                   

...in my heart.

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