Friday, August 12, 2011

FICTION:One Lucky Dog by David Meuel

“It might be fun for you to meet Daphne,” Ellen told Scott“She’s very attractive,” said Tom.

The three sat outside sipping beers on a warm Saturday afternoon at Café Borrone in Menlo Park. Ellen and Tom had been so nice to him since his separation, Scott thought. Now Ellen was offering to introduce him to one of her single friends.

“What’s she like?” said Scott.“I used to work with her,” said Ellen. “She’s very sweet. And she’s quite a dog person. If nothing else, she would be someone nice to go out to dinner with.”

“Why not?” said Scott, warming to the thought of getting out of his apartment more.

 Daphne was shy about meeting Scott one on one so Ellen and Tom arranged dinner for the four of them. Scott found this shyness sweet, and Daphne was very attractive: a finely chiseled face highlighted by big, deep blue-green eyes and smooth, near-flawless skin; thick blond hair; and long, willowy legs. No false advertising there. The evening went well with Ellen and Tom doing a good job of asking both Scott and Daphne questions and helping each feel relaxed and comfortable.

 When the evening was over, Scott asked Daphne for her number, and she blushed and smiled and gave it to him. He found this sweet, too, and all that night he couldn’t get her blue-green eyes out of his mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, he thought as he faded off to sleep, if they just clicked? It would be so nice to be with someone—really be with someone—like he and Sharon had been before Sharon started taking those personal affirmation workshops. Their first two dates were a walk in the redwoods and a Chinese dinner. Both times Scott and Daphne came—and went—in separate cars. Daphne said she liked Scott but wanted to go slowly, and, while Scott found himself staring at her nearly every time she looked away, he understood that it would be foolish to rush things. Dating was new to him, and he was still having nightmares about Sharon. Still, he thought of Daphne constantly. He remembered complimentary things she had said when they were together, and he wondered if she would be comfortable receiving texts from him once or twice a day.  On their third date, Daphne said that she wanted Scott to meet Bosco, her little terrier and the subject of much of the conversation on the first two dates. She suggested a drink at her place and then dinner at a romantic Italian restaurant with outdoor seating and opera music.

 “Just like in Lady and the Tramp,” she said.When Scott rang Daphne’s doorbell, he heard unusually fierce barking and growling on the other side.

“It’s okay,” Daphne said. She opened the door, holding Bosco by the collar. “Bosco’s very protective of me. He and I have been through a lot together.”

“It’s nice to have that level of protection,” said Scott, noticing how good Daphne looked in the red dress she was wearing

“He’s so sensitive, too.” Tears began to form in her eyes. “He’s an amazing little guy.”

After several moments, Daphne let go of Bosco’s collar and showed Scott a few techniques to win Bosco’s favor. Scott followed her lead, and the strategy worked. Bosco was calmer now, and so was Scott.Daphne showed Scott around her home and stopped in the kitchen to open a bottle of wine. On the refrigerator, Scott saw several photos of Daphne with Bosco. Holding up one of them was a display magnet that read: “If you sleep with me, you sleep with my dog.”

Scott had imagined going to bed with Daphne, but he never thought that Bosco would be part of the deal, too.Bosco growled again when Daphne and Scott left for dinner, but she calmed him down with a hug and a dog biscuit.

 “We’ll bring you back a doggie bag,” she said.

 “It will be so yummy.”As Daphne locked the front door, she wiped away a tear from her cheek. “It’s been hard to leave him alone since Buddy died.”


“They were the best of friends. More like brothers. I got them both at the same time. Nearly six years ago.”“How did…?”

“A car accident. I was beside myself. So was Bosco.”

“I’m sure it must have been hard.” As Scott followed Daphne down the path to his car, he was relieved to finally be alone with her. And—he didn’t know whether it was her make-up, the red dress, or both—she looked especially good that evening.

“We felt desolate,” she said. “We went to grief counseling every other week for months. Bosco felt a lot of survivor’s guilt. It was difficult to work through. We also go to an interfaith memorial service at the dog run at Cuesta Park. It’s ongoing. Four times a year, people bring photos of loved ones. We all say a few words and have a good cry.”

Daphne wiped away new tears.

 “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to burden you with this. But, on the bright side, losing Buddy has brought Bosco and me closer together. Now, we go on trips together, get massages together, go to yappy hours together.

 “Yappy hours?” That didn’t sound right to Scott. “Happy hours for dog owners and their dogs. It’s really a cute name, isn’t it? It’s at Dog Bone Alley at the Rose Garden Shopping Center. It’s a lot of fun. Bosco’s made some great new friends there.”

“I’m sure he has.” No, Scott thought, this didn’t sound right at all. In fact, none of this did.

“I sometimes joke with Bosco that the best relationship I’ve ever had with a male has been with him,” Daphne continued. “But that’s not quite true. There was Buddy, too.”

Scott wondered why he had missed these kinds of details on the first two dates. For a moment Daphne turned a little to the side, and Scott glanced at her face. It was still beautiful. But looking at her now was like looking at a sculpture from another world and time. The next day Daphne emailed Scott, saying that—since Bosco didn’t seem to like Scott—she thought it would be best if they didn’t see each other any more. She also wished him the best in his efforts to find happiness.Scott was stunned and read the email several times. Then, slowly, a small smile grew on his face. Yes, he had been dumped for a dog. And, yes, it probably was for the best. At least Daphne had helped him with the loneliness for a time. At least she had done that.He sent a reply to Daphne, calling Bosco “one lucky dog” and wishing the two of them “many yappy years” together. Then he dragged her email to the trash.

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