Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Story-Time Tuesday - Writing Fiction

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Writing Fiction - Chapter 15

Here's where Chapter 14 left you...

Spot. Spot? SPOT!?! Hurray. My big, fat implausible denial looked like it might be reality after all. Who would name a golden, little, non-spotted terrier Spot?!?

I was absolutely, totally and completely convinced that it couldn’t be Edgar’s dog tag, but just to be sure I went to the top of the stairs and shouted, “Here Spot! Here Spot!” and Edgar came running.

Surely that had to be a mistake. I was certain he’d just heard my voice and came to find me, so while he was nosing around on the upstairs landing I snuck into my bathroom. Very quietly I whispered, “Here Spot!” and he didn’t come.

I told myself that proved it was another dog’s tag, but as I was leaving the bathroom I caught sight of my face in the mirror. I was ashamed to see the face of a possible dog theif so I called out “Here Spot!” again and Edgar came dashing through the doorwaw, looking as excited as I do in a cupcake shop.

Darn. Darn, Darn, Darn.

Spot? Spot! Oh Edgar.

And, now, the story continues...

After testing Edgar at least twenty three more times to see if he’d answer to the name, Spot, I knew. Edgar was Spot.

What a stupid name, anyway. Wasn’t that dog abuse or something?

I looked at the clock and it was almost 7:30. At night. Surely too late to call the number on the tag. What if they were sleeping? It would be awfully rude to wake them up, right?

So, the dog formerly known as Spot and I just hung out. We watched a little TV. He liked the Lassie reruns. We went outside in the chilly night air and he did his business while I looked at the stars and gave him privacy. I made him a snack. All through these little activities, he continued to ignore me when I called him Edgar and to jump up when I called him Spot. I tried tricking him by calling him Ed, but he stubbornly refused to answer to that nickname, as well.

By the time we were heading off to bed, I’d almost convinced myself that the number would be disconnected or that the person who answered would tell me it was a mistake and that their dog, Spot, was taking a nap on the couch.

I must not have convinced myself totally, though, because all night long I tossed and turned and worried. I had nightmare after nightmare. In one particularly upsetting version, my mother, God rest her soul, was making me write “I won’t use my imagination” 100 times on a giant chalkboard. In another, my husband was walking Edgar on a leash. They were walking away from me really quickly and no matter how fast I ran, I could never catch up to them.

Finally, my little cookie scented dog and I fell into a sound sleep. Some combination of the sunlight streaming into the bedroom and Edgar licking my face made me wake up the next morning.

Have you ever had something really, really bad happen in your life? You know how sometimes you forget the bad thing occurred and you wake up in the morning with temporary amnesia and just feel happy? My morning with Edgar was like that. I’d stretched and patted him and scratched his ears. I’d thrown on my ratty pink robe and slippers and headed downstairs. Edgar ran out into the yard and I put the coffee pot on. It was only as I was filling his bowls with fresh water and dog kibble that I remembered.

I went to the open back door where the cold air was streaming into the warm kitchen. I quietly said, “Edgar” and he ignored me. I quietly said, “Spot!” and he came running.

The back of my nose started burning and I knew I was going to start crying. “Get a grip, Pearl,” I told myself, “You’ve only had this mangy, scroungy, dirty, ugly, smelly little dog for a day and a half.”

As the tears started to drip down my face I asked myself over and over again, how I could have fallen in love with him so quickly? I think it might have been the thing I read about in the grief books…getting attached to someone too rapidly trying to fill in all the lonely spots.

I walked over to the dog tag laying on the counter and picked up the phone. The scent of coffee and the sounds of a dog eating and drinking filled the warm kitchen. I dialed the number. It rang once. I hung up. Obviously the people weren’t home.

I opened the cupboard to get out my ‘From Texas with Love’ mug and dumped a bunch of fat-free Half and Half in. I picked up the phone and dialed the number again. This time it rang three times and just as I was getting ready to hang up a grumpy male voice came over the phone.

“Yea. What?” the grumpy male voice said.

I almost hung up again and then he repeated, “Yea. What?” and I quickly started talking.

“Ummm…. hi…” I said in a small voice, “I was…”

“I don’t want any,” he snarled at me. And then all I heard was dial tone. He hung up. Obviously he was an abusive, horrible person. There’s no way he’d have had a sweet, little Cairn Terrier named Spot. Maybe he owned a pit bull named Killer or Spike or Demon and somehow Edgar had…

I interrupted myself. “Pearl, you have to try again. Fair is fair,” so I dialed the number for the second time.

This time when he answered, he was even ruder. His nasty, “WHAT?” almost scared me, but I stiffened my spine and said, “Please don’t hang up on me again. Do you have a dog named Spot?”

He didn’t answer, but at least he didn’t yell at me again.

“What did you say?” he asked in a slightly less mean voice, and I repeated my question.

“Listen lady. Is this a joke?”

I’d started babbling about how I’d been out walking and had found this mangy, scruffy, nasty little dog that I thought was dead but then when it wasn’t I’d given it a bath and made it smell like a cookie and then I’d taken it to the vet and it wasn’t chipped and…

“Lady. Take a breath,” the gruff sounding guy said. “Put the dog on the phone.”

“What do you mean, put the dog on the phone?” I’d sputtered and he’d replied, “Hold the phone up to the dogs ear,” so I’d.

I’m not sure what he said, but all the sudden Edgar/Spot started barking like crazy. He was whining and jumping up in the air and his little chocolate brown eyes were almost feverish with excitement.

“Spot,” I said, “I’ll be darned. You really are Spot.”

When I put the receiver to my ear again, the man sounded almost human. “So…lady. Where can I come and pick up my dog?”

“Not so fast, Mister. How do I know it’s your dog? And why was he out wandering around lost? And why wasn’t he micro-chipped? And how do I know…”

“Lady,” he interrupted again, “You can tell just by the phone call it’s my dog. Let me come over to get him and I’ll prove it to you.”

I thought about it for a second.

First of all, I wasn’t sure that I wanted Mr. Nasty coming to my house. He sounded like the kind of person that might sneak back in later and slit my throat. Second of all, I wasn’t quite ready to turn Edgar/Spot over to someone that sounded so mean. Third of all…I didn’t want to give the dog back. I wondered if that childhood rule of ‘finders keepers’ applied to dogs. I wondered if…

Mr. Grumpy-pant’s impatient voice interrupted my musings. “Lady, I really want to come and get my dog. If you’re worried about it, I’ll pay the vet bill and give you a reward.”

“I don’t want a reward,” I sputtered, “I just want to be sure he’s your dog and that you aren’t a dog abuser or something. Let’s meet at the little park on Main and 10th in an hour.”

Before he could protest, I quickly hung up.

I wondered why I’d said an hour. Why hadn’t I said I was out of town and I’d be back in five months and that I’d bring Edgar/Spot over then? Why hadn’t I told him I’d meet him tomorrow?

Darn. Darn, darn, darn!

I tried dialing the number back, but there was no answer.

I wondered if it would it be wrong to just not show up at the park? What if I just kept the dog? The guy sounded horrible after all. I wasted about five minutes trying to convince myself that doing the wrong thing would be the right thing, just this once.

In the end, I went upstairs and took a shower. I tried sausaging myself into my jeans, resignedly admitted defeat by finally pulling on sweat pants instead. I blow dried my hair. I put some make-up on. I dawdled. I poked around. I changed my sweat pants to a pair with a stripe down the side that were more slimming. I fixed my make-up. I wanted to look as put together as possible so I could convince the nasty guy to let me keep Edgar/Spot.

Finally, when I was a good fifteen minutes late, I grabbed the dog leash, poo bag and went to my car. I opened the door and called, “Edgar, Edgar!” and he came running from the side yard and jumped in. My hopes grew for a brief moment and then I realized he’d only coming running because he liked riding in the car.

It took about 5 minutes to drive to the little park and by then I was nearly twenty minutes late. Perfect timing, it seemed, because the park was empty.

To be continued, Tuesday, December 21st.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Jocelyn said...

Oh no...I had hoped that this owner would not answer the phone!!!!

Poor Pearl.....I can just imagine how upset she is!!!!

Looking forward to next week!!!

Viki said...

Oh darn, BUT I see possibilities for Pearl and the grumpy old man LOL. Can't wait until the next chapter.

Joanne Lendaro said...

Okay, so I'm with Pearl hoping the guy is a no-show and we get to keep the mut. Yeah, I know Pearl is late, but I'm sure there was a HUGE traffic jam or SOMETHING to keep her from delivering the sweet cookie smelling dog to the mean old crabby man......

Amy said...

I warned you about the tears! I am a sap, what can I say. He is not going to be there, right? She will get to keep her bit of happiness, right? Please or please say I am right!

Susan Anderson said...

Okay. If you really cared about me, you would not make me wait a whole week to read about what happens.

Jenny. Have a heart.

It's Christmas.


Mrs. M said...

I hope he isn't as gruff as he seems...

Lourie said...

Oh man! You are good! And so ornery for leaving us hanging like this! I look forward to next week!

Ames said...

Rut Roh. Me thinks me smells a big pile of complication ahead. Some how I feel that Pearl will end up with Edgar...er..uh...Spot?~Ames

H said...

I'm hoping that Grumpy-britches was only so mean because he was missing Spot so much. Maybe there is a new liaison??

I feel it only fair to warn you that I don't do sad endings :(

Tina said...

You're breaking my heart here, Jenny. Stop! Please find some way for her to keep Spot. Pretty please?

The Words Crafter said...

I hope he was just grumpy because he was missing his dog. Maybe they can have a joint custody thing.....

Anonymous said...

Now, I can't wait to see what this man's story is and how he and his dog were separated. Whatever will Pearl do now...she is so attached to Edgar and loves him. But it sounds like the man loves him too. Now my heart aches for them all.