I remember the day that the romance began. I usually see animals before I see people, and I usually see kids before I see grown ups. Don’t have much use for most adults. They hit a certain point and decide that grown up means they’ve got no more need for growth. I sensed the stirrings, faint but unmistakable, of an afternoon love.
He was a pudge ball of fur and wrinkles, ugly as only a cross bred mutt can be. His smooshed up nose came right up against my bare arm while I was sleeping. I snorted and started, scraping my back on the brick wall I was leaning against, and opened my eyes only to see his shiny happy brown ones an inch from them.
Warm dog breath panted against my whiskered chin, and a fat lazy tongue lolled out and over a severe underbite. I grinned a gummy eyed smile and lazily gave the brute some scrubbies behind his ear.
‘I’m really sorry sir,’ began a musical voice about four feet higher than my usual line of sight. ‘Bunny was pretty insistent that he wanted to say hello.’
Bunny. Bunny? Breaking my self imposed rule of not making eye contact with anyone who didn’t sleep on the street, I glanced up. And up. Glamazon here had to hit around six foot, with another foot for the poofy curls that bounced around her head.
I shaded my eyes against the lowering sun behind her. ‘Why in the hell is this dog’s name Bunny?’ At the mention of his name, the dog butted his thick skull against my hand and made happy, thick-sounding dog noises. It made me laugh, a rusty sound I’d kind of missed hearing.
Glamazon Barbie laughed, too. ‘He’s a rescue, they said they had no idea what his name was, since he was abandoned there? My husband didn’t really understand why I wanted such an ugly little monkey, so we named him Bunny. Cause they’re cute. Like when they call a big guy Little John?’
His stubby legs were jigging in a paroxysm of doggie delight, what with his name being thrown all around and the two hands I was now using to scratch his head. How could you not love this idiot?
‘He’s the happiest guy, really’, she continued. ‘Just dumb and happy to be alive.’ She smiled.
As I looked up at her, I was struck by an unusual realization. She was being genuine. She wasn’t some do-gooder earning karma points by talking to the homeless guy. She wasn’t acting normal while she felt uncomfortable inside. She just followed her dumb happy dog on his dumb happy path, and seemed to let her judgment ride with Bunny’s.
I reached up, held out a hand. Without hesitation she clasped it, shook, and introduced herself as Marlena.
‘Will,’ I provided, and released her hand. ‘I’m around here most afternoons, so if you go out for a walk around here again I wouldn’t mind saying hello every once in a while. I like your dog, he’s got good taste.’
She laughed. ‘You can be sure. It was nice to have met you, Will.’ She tugged on Bunny’s leash, and after a last ear flapping rub, he trotted after her with all the grace of a drunken hippopotamus.
I leaned back against the wall again, and let my eyes drift shut.
* * * * *
I’ve been out of the Master Class game for a while, writing in general too actually. Life, work, busted laptop blah blah blah. Writers gotta write, so none of those things are an excuse. So here’s me, trying to get back in the saddle, typing this whole thing out on my phone
The inestimable Troy www.aslongasimsinging.wordpress.comwas chosen as the premiere student in the last class and came up with a line from The Christmas Story, in bold above. The sentence had to be used in the fifth place and neither begin nor end the story.
Check out the other submissions at Prof Sam’s place www.frommywriteside.wordpress.com