Voice of Bruck News Service

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fire Kills Dog; Goat Lives

Whatever you do, please don't put anything religious on my gravestone. I really think that honor should go to a very select few whose lives were wholly dedicated to religious pursuits; for the rest of us, it just seems a bit presumptuous, don't you think?

The newspaper article that loans its headline to today's dispatch appeared on the front page of the Friday, 27 February, 2009 issue of the News and Messenger, the newspaper of record for central Prince William County, Virginia. And a pathetic newspaper it is, but that's not the topic of today's missive. Today's topic is what to put on Bruck's gravestone, which of course is germaine only to those of you lucky enough to outlive me. So far we have:

1963 - 20xx

The last two digits of the year are blank of course, and assuming the Aztecs simply ran out of space, or perhaps grew tired of writing a calendar for the civilizations that would vastly outlive them, we can hope the last two digits are greater than 12. I figure it's safe to use "20" as the first two digits of my final year; unless some clever foodologist figures out how to make the perfect antioxidant, probiotic, vitamin-enriched pork rind, I'm not expecting to survive this century. In fact, getting halfway through it would certainly beat the odds.

You can read the MJM news article about the lucky goat and not-so-lucky dog at:


that is, as long as they maintain it there, which I doubt will be long once an actual editor reads it.

T'hey changed the title a bit from the printed version. I invite you to slog through the whole article, and if your reading comprehension level is similar to mine, it will take about three readings to get some idea of what actually happened. I will only excerpt the article, partially in deference to "fair use," but also to dispel any impression that I would write such dreck myself.

My favorite line from the article was the opening statement:

Rhonda D. (recall, I don't ID people w/o their permission in the VOBNS - see the actual article for the whole name) said that if her father hadn’t already passed away before Christmas, the Thursday morning fire at his home near Lake Jackson would have killed him.

My first thought was, well, good thing he died before Christmas, otherwise he would have, wait a minute, never mind…

The article goes on to relate how the house started burning at around 9:00 a.m. when Rhonda's daughter was getting on the school bus. Apparently the FD was summoned, as was Rhonda herself from Maryland, and a valiant attempt was made to save the menagerie which included three dogs and a goat. It's not totally clear who made this attempt, although the article did note that an aunt, Rhonda's sister, also named Rhonda, just kidding, but the bus driver was named Rhonda, required treatment for injuries sustained while attempting to save the animals, so we know at least that the aunt was involved.

It then states that, "In the end, the 6-year-old did get on the bus and go to school." What??? So let me get this straight, the girl is waiting for the school bus, it pulls up, opens its doors, the girl looks over her shoulder with dismay as flames and smoke billow from the windows of her house, and during the few seconds it takes to ascend the school bus steps, the FD arrives, her aunt cuts her hands trying to save the housepets, and mom comes screeching in from Maryland, while the last embers of the house float skyward as the three surviving animals look on.

And in the understatement of the year, Rhonda observes, "You can’t just easily fix this."

I guess not. There are more confusing details in the article, like who lived where, etc., but one that caught my eye was, "Smoke continued to billow from a pile of charred debris in the front yard long after the fire was extinguished." A debris pile in the front yard, hmmm. Was it deposited there as a result of the blaze, or as a result of attempting to extinguish the blaze, or was there a debris pile in the front yard prior to the fire (this is Prince William County, and we are talking about a household with a pet goat)? If so, did it catch fire as a result of the house fire, or was it a separate but coincident fire? With no information as to the cause of the house fire, we're left to assume meteor strike, so likely as not there may have been other nearby fires as well.

The first thing to keep in mind, in considering a suitable epitaph, is that whatever you put there is strictly for the benefit of the survivors; the stiff probably won't even get to read it. And Big Guy Upstairs certainly is not going to be fooled or persuaded by any false piety you put there. Jesus Christ Himself exposed the futility of trying to "reach back" from the grave in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, which I'm sure you remember from Sunday School; if not, see the Gospel of Luke, chapter 16.

What would be appropriate to put on one's gravestone anyway? I like to think it should reflect something positive the departed managed to accomplish in life, or at least provide some information that survivors might find useful, like if he/she was a veteran, or a parent, or held some esteemed position in society or business. But not necessarily… it's still (just barely) a free country, you know!

There was a follow-on article the next day, by the same author (!), about the beleagured pet and former home owner. Some more facts come into focus, including that two cats also succumbed, and the mother is now named Dolores (maybe she has always been named Dolores) and has a potentially fatal illness, no wait a minute, two: osteomyelitis and brain cancer. The article clears up the timeline somewhat, but balances this with even more contradictions and inexplicable circumstances for the reader to ponder. This journalistic masterpiece can be found at:


BTW, I saved a text version of these articles locally in case they disappear from the news site; e-mail me if you need them.

The author states that Delores, whose name will probably change again in the next article, provided information about Denise the goat: "Originally purchased and cared for by her late father, Denise loves to eat Pop-Tarts."

Practically speaking, one can direct one's survivors to write whatever they want on a gravestone. I kind of like the idea of putting something there to make my successors scratch their heads and wonder, kind of like what I did after reading these two articles. So here's what I just decided I want on my gravestone:

Fire Kills Dog; Goat Lives
1963 - 20xx


  • At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Epitaph would lead me to believe you are the dog and your better half,surviving,a goat. But we all know wife of Bruck is blossom possum.

  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger wendymarie said…

    Hm, so I just read your article on this and to be honest with you. You are ignorant! You have not a CLUE on what exactly happened, the writer then had the names and facts messed up from the start.. I know this because it was my Aunt and cousins home that caught up in flames. But again, for someone who is an outsider and has not a CLUE on what exactly went on just read the paper and decided to pretty much add their ridiculous thoughts about it just to get hits on your page is by means someone who has no life. Another thing, the animals died because they were inside. The goat was in the back yard in the area my grandfather built for her. So again, I am done with this but really... You need to do something better with your life other then talking about other's. Anyone need to know the actual truth about this incident please contact me at cutieismyname@hotmail.com


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