11 May 2018
The old man limped up to the check-out in Chapters and placed a brown, hand-made, Italian notebook on the counter.
“Did you find everything you were looking for?” The check-out girl inquired.
“Oh dear, what were you looking for?”
“My dog. I lost my dog.”
“Here? In the store? I can page security. I’m sure they’ll find it.”
“No, you mustn’t do that.”
“It’s no trouble. What color is it? Male or female? What breed? Large or small?”
“No, no. You’re much too kind. I lost him at home.”
“I lost my cat last week,” the check-out girl told him. “We searched everywhere for her.”
“I searched for my dog. All around the block. The dog usually comes home. This time he didn’t.”
“That doesn’t sound good. We never found our cat. My mom said the coyotes got her.”
“That’s not nice. We lost a cat.”
“No. To mapaches, you know, to raccoons.”
“I miss my cat.”
“Me too. I also miss my dog.”
“I hope you find him.”
“I will. Oh, look. Here he is. Safe and sound.”
“I don’t see him,” the check-out girl looked around the store from her vantage point behind the cash register but didn’t see any dogs.
“His name’s Woof,” the old man pulled a small, fluffy, black-and-white dog out of his pocket and put him down on the counter. “Here, you have him. He’ll help make up for your lost cat.”
“I couldn’t possibly …”
“Don’t be silly.”
“No. Thank you very much. But I can’t take your dog. Here, put him back in your pocket. Oh, and that will be eight dollars exactly.”
The old man held out a five dollar bill, a toony, and a loony.
“Thank you,” the girl placed the money in the till and the little bell chimed happily. “Here’s your receipt.”
“Thank you,” the old man turned and limped away.
When he passed through the exit barrier, the alarm bell rang, but he took no notice. He walked rapidly to his car, close by in the wheelchair parking spot. He pressed the starter button, placed Woof on the passenger seat, and drove away before security arrived. As he drove, the old man extracted a brindle hound from his coat pocket and waved him proudly.
“Hello Woof,” he chuckled. “I want you to meet Winnie. Welcome to the family, Winnie. You’re free now.”
He put his hand in his other pocket and pulled out a fluffy Dalmatian, all white with black spots.
“And this is Pooh,” he announced. “Woof, Winnie, and Pooh: all broken out of prison. We’re one big happy family.”
He tooted the car horn and Woof, Winnie, and Pooh sat up straight on the front seat, wagged their tails, and woofed in time to the tooted horn.