Friday, October 2, 2009

The One With the Waggly Tail

The clerk sighed as the customer approached the counter. "You again? How many times are we going to do this?"

The customer shrugged, trying not to look too chagrined to be there. "They keep dying on me. I can't help that, they're old when I get them!"

The clerk leaned closer and spoke softly over the din of people laughing and talking around the viewing enclosures and cages. "You know, if you're having problems taking care of them, you shouldn't be buying them. They can put you away for that, you know. There are laws against cruelty and mistreatment."

The customer recoiled in horror. "Look, I'm not some sort of monster! The last one had liver problems. I couldn't pay for the surgery. Nobody would, really. Not when the old girl was that close to death. So I just let her go peacefully. You're telling me nobody else comes back here?"

"Oh, they do, but not nearly as often," the customer said. "I suppose you do look to adopt the older ones, though. Fine. But if you're in here again in six months I'm going to have to notify my supervisor. We can't be going through that much stock for one person. We could get in trouble, too."

"I understand," the customer said. "Don't worry. I really do take my best to be the best caretaker. They have beds and food and things to play with. I put on music that they like. I take them out for walks, don't let them wander the streets."

"I believe you," the clerk said. "You seem on the up and up. You leave a lot of broken hearts when you finally walk out of here."

"They'll all find loving homes, I'm sure," the customer said. "Everyone needs something in their life. Without a sense of responsibility, taking care of a living creature, nourishing them, building that companionship... well, what person doesn't like that?"

The clerk smiled. "Exactly right. I hope you enjoy your selection. Have a nice day."

----

The customer let his new acquisition into the passenger's seat of the car, then got behind the wheel. You were supposed to keep them contained until you got home, but that seemed a little inhumane to the customer. How could you wait to set them free?

When he sat down in the drivers seat, he looked over. "Don't worry. It'll be all right. I'm your new owner. I'll take care of you. We'll be the best of friends."

The woman in the passenger's seat looked at him, eyes bright and hopeful amid a deep set of wrinkles. "I sure hope so."

"What's your name?" the customer asked.

"Hazel," the old woman replied, reaching over and putting on her seat belt.

"Hazel." The customer thought for a moment, committing it to memory. "Pretty name. I'll probably call you Gran. I hope that's okay."

"Of course!"

"I'm glad," the customer said, smiling. "All right. Let's go. I'll show you my place, and then we'll get some food in you."

"Oh, lovely. Antiques Roadshow is on later, too. If you don't mind..."

"No, of course not," the customer said. "I love that show."

Together, bonding over talk of knickknacks, the two pulled out from the parking lot and headed towards home.

2 comments:

The Writer said...

What an interesting piece leading the reader around by the nose until you plop them right in the backseat with the ones the customer keeps buying to replace his Gran perhaps? Something like that. Thanks for writing Matt.

Marisa Birns said...

He must have had a lovely grandmother.

Thought the story was about older dogs but you "twisted" us!

Nicely done.