When Jim God-Be-Here and Hazel Buzza were each about 73 years old they got married. Chocolate wasn’t allowed into the tiny white chapel but he was tied up outside waiting for the ceremony to end so they could all go home together. There was a man at that wedding who looked exactly like Willie Nelson. He even had long thin grey braids and a red bandana. That man sang too.
Chocolate was a black and tan hound with folded ears and a southern expression. Chocolate liked ice cream. Hazel Buzza said Chocolate’s favourite flavour was Tiger-Tiger. I’ve been told that the orange parts of Tiger-Tiger ice cream are orange flavoured and the black parts are licorice flavoured.
Chocolate liked his ice cream in a cone on a hot day. Hazel would get a double scoop for Chocolate and bowl of Maple Walnut for herself and then hold the cone down by her knees under the table while she ate hers with her other hand.
One day the owner of the café told Hazel that Chocolate would have to eat his ice cream on the grass out front and not on the verandah like he had been doing for years.
The same summer the café owner said Chocolate would have to eat his ice cream on the grass Chocolate died. Nobody thought there was any reason for Chocolate to die other than that he was an old dog. He didn’t die at the café. He died at home with Hazel and Jim.
Everyone was sad that day that Chocolate died. Because we were all sad and because it was a hot afternoon Frank Withrow said we should hold a Viking funeral for Chocolate that evening. Frank is obsessed with Vikings. He says he can trace his family back to the Vikings though that doesn’t explain his name.
Even though the suggestion came from Frank we decided it was a good idea and that evening we met at the beach. Hazel and Jim were there with that red Radio Flyer wagon they use to haul stuff back and forth from the ferry. They had Chocolate in the wagon. He was wrapped up in a bed sheet with flowers printed all over it.
Frank said we had to build a raft and that we’d have to light the raft on fire and float it with Chocolate out into the lake. There wasn’t much wood lying around though and in the end George Stilton (who looks like a peeled shrimp and so we were all surprised) carried Chocolate out into the water up to his neck and just floated him off.
At 7:30 one morning five or six days after George Stilton carried Chocolate off the beach some of the commuters waiting for the ferrymen to tie up looked into the summer thick water of Lake Ontario and saw Chocolate, all hairless and bloated now, bumping up against the jetty.
Somebody said, “I suppose that was to be expected,” and everyone walked onboard.
Read The End in Geist magazine where it was originally published: