The Screamers  

The Screamers

I thought I’d never get Happy (my RV) backed between the 2 trees that were on either side of my campsite. Visions of last year’s trip and the loss of a running board danced through my head. My new running board was only weeks old and my goal was for it to last the duration of this trip.

Poor Belle. Ever since what is now called “the running board incident,” when I back up, she thinks she needs to help. She runs to the back window and barks if I get too close to anything. Since there were two trees, she didn’t know which side to watch. She kept jumping from bench to bench taking turns barking out both windows. Belle and I were both relieved when Happy sat safely between the two trees.

The next challenge was to get out of Happy without hitting my door on the pop up camper next to me. If you are getting the picture that we had close quarters, you would be correct. As I stepped out of my camper, the pop up door opened and I heard a screaming female voice say, “Shut that door, I’m dressing.” I winced as the door slammed.

While I was plugging Happy in, the pop up door opened again and a sullen boy climbed out. “Hi,” I said. He didn’t answer me.

I heard screaming again as a small dog bolted through the door of the open pop up. The woman I’ve named “Mrs. Screamer” yelled, “Catch him! Catch him!” The boy started running towards the tiny brown blur. The dog ran to me for safety. I reached down to pet him and thought the “bolting dog crisis” was over. Mrs. Screamer didn’t agree and bolted for the dog. When she bolted, the dog bolted again and I lost control. The wild eyed dog headed right into the path of an on coming car. This time, we all screamed and bolted for the dog.

Mrs. Screamer reached the street first, raised her hands in the air, and yelled, “Stop!” Thankfully, the car stopped just in time to avoid hitting the dog and Mrs. Screamer. Mrs. Screamer reached down and angrily picked up the dog. She ignored me as she walked by and I heard her say to little Screamette (my new name for the dog,) “Well, if you’d been killed, at least I wouldn’t have had to chase you any more.” I’d never seen so much bolting and screaming in my life.

About this time, Mr. Screamer ran over and demanded to know what was going on. Mrs. Screamer pointed a finger at the quivering boy and said, “He left the door open.” It took all of my will power not to ask why they didn’t teach their dog not to run out doors or to come when they called him. I felt God whispering, Judge not lest you be judged.

Mr. Screamer snarled at the boy and stomped off. The boy also stomped off, heading for the swing sets. Mrs. Screamer stomped back to the pop up with the dog in a vise grip. When she got to the door, she screamed to the boy, “Don’t you dare go any where but the swing set!”

The boy ignored Mrs. Screamer so she screamed louder, “Did you hear me?”

Knowing he was pushing it, the boy screamed back, “Yes!” Aha, I thought. We had a budding Screamer Junior here. Satisfied, Mrs. Screamer went inside with little Screamette, who promptly started howling at the top of his lungs.

I’d been at the campground for 10 minutes and the screaming and bolting had exhausted me. I opened the door of my camper, got the camp chair out, and left the door open while I set up the chair. I wondered if the Screamers noticed that Belle waited inside the door until I gave her permission to leave. Was that God I felt whispering, You’re pushing it? Aloud, I said, “Ok” and Belle leapt happily to the ground and headed to our mutual chair.

When Screamer Junior spied Belle, he left the swing set and headed to my campsite. “What kind of dog is that?” he asked.

“A sheltie,” I answered.

“She looks like a mutt to me.”

How old are you?” I asked, trying to decide how much latitude to give someone criticizing my dog.

“Seven,” he answered. “Does your dog like you?”

“Yes,” I answered, hearing his pain. “Does your dog like you?”

“No,” he said glumly.

“Are you nice to him?” I asked. Screamer Junior looked surprised by the question. I continued. “My dog likes me because I talk nicely to her and treat her nicely.” It seemed like a new concept to Screamer Junior so I continued the lesson. “Try petting Belle slowly. If you are nice to her and talk softly, she will like you too.” Belle seemed to understand the importance of her reaction and cooperated. Belle and Screamer Junior fell instantly in love.

“I think your mommy told you to stay at the swing set,” I suggested. “Let’s walk over there and Belle and I will swing with you.” Belle loves to swing in my lap and Screamer Junior was fascinated. Even from the swing set, we could hear the howls coming from the pop up. Screamette definitely belonged to this family. How could such a small dog make so much noise? I wondered.

After about a half hour of swinging, playing with Belle, and talking I said, “I guess I’d better go start my dinner.” I left Screamer Junior swinging but when I looked back, he had left the swing set and headed toward the river. I watched him carefully as he got his toes wet, hoping he would return to the swing set. I was about to bolt once again and rescue him (I was willing to bolt again but I refused to scream again) when I heard Mr. Screamer scream, “Get out of that water!”

Screamer Junior ignored him and waded deeper. Since I was closer, I froze in case I needed to plunge into the water after him. I’d been warned about the sharks and the alligators so I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect. The words “Now!” boomed across the entire camp ground. There was no doubt that Screamer Junior heard this time. Reluctantly, he headed away from the water.

Mrs. Screamer heard the yelling and came outside the pop up to add to the fracas. “I told you not to leave the swing set!” Devastated at being left alone in the pop up, Screamette began howling even louder. How was that even possible?

The excitement was too much for Belle and she began barking in response. I looked at her and whispered, “Don’t you dare! We don’t act like that in this family.” She hushed.

After preparing my dinner, Belle and I came outside to eat. Screamer Junior joined us and spent the next hour talking and playing with Belle. I found out that he occasionally went to church, was starting school on Monday, and didn’t much like school. He found out that I travel, love church, talk calmly and softly, and enjoy my dog.

If anyone camps in a pop up, you need to know that your neighbors can hear everything, even if you don’t scream. Throughout the evening, I heard this family grumbling, complaining, whining, and screaming. I was at the campground for 19 hours and never once heard a kind word between any of them.

The next morning, as I was leaving, I saw a girl who looked to be about 12 years old emerge from the pop up. I’d seen her the day before walking quietly around the campground. I certainly hadn’t realized she belonged to the Screamers. If she said one word inside the pop up, I didn’t hear it. “Is this your family?” I asked.

She sighed and whispered, “Yes.” I wondered if she was adopted and suspected she wished it so.

Prov 15:4
Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim. The Message

Prov 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. KJV


Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

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