All the unpleasant memories melted away as I held his arm.
In sad tones, the cab driver told us about his recently failed marriage, and he wished us luck saying that we looked like we had what it takes.
For the first time, I wondered what that meant — for us.
He came back to me, and I should be glad, but within a few weeks, we had settled into a semi-civilian life, and it was almost as though the whole nightmare never happened.
His greatcoat smells of cleaning fluid, and I huddle in close beside him as he works out how to get to our apartment. There are stairs on both sides of the exterior of the building, and he wants to pick the right one. That’s the William I remember.
The rain has stopped, it’s cold, and everything we own is crammed into these few bags.
William has his Army pay, and there is a good job waiting for him when he’s demobbed. There is a good chance I will get to hold onto my job because the man who held my position before the war was killed. I feel bad for him and his family but happy for me. They still might decide to give my job to a returned soldier; I’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve enjoyed the freedom that employment brings. All the years William was away, I was responsible for myself. Living with his sister was hard and as soon as her husband returned I was given my marching orders — good enough to keep her company while he was away, but not good enough to have somewhere to stay while we readjust to civilian life. I try not to make too much of it around William.
The apartment is in the upmarket part of town; very old buildings, well established and you can almost smell money in the air.
I’m looking forward to spending time in the park at the end of the street when the weather improves.
Truth be told, I would have lived anywhere with William, I’m not proud, but he wanted the best. Someone he served with put him on to it, and I know we are going to be happy.
Not surprisingly, William is not the same man I married, but we’ll be fine.
He put his life on the line, ‘for king and country’ and I’m going to bring all the courage I discovered in myself to make a life for us both.
As the cab driver moves off down our quiet little street with the park at the end, my William decides which staircase to use. We pick up our bags and our life together is somewhere inside that building — what could possibly go wrong.
It was a weekday and my mistress was hard at work writing her latest murder mystery.
When she writes like that I know that I can be gone for a while and she won’t miss me.
I saw the big van pull up and two large humans were carrying big pieces of furniture into the house. There were to be two humans living there, but on this day I only saw the one.
She was pretty, for a human, and she stopped what she was doing just to say hello to me. I knew straight away that she was one of the good ones.
She told me that she had a dog, but I could not smell him anywhere around.
She looked at me and said, “No he’s not here now, but I’m going to collect him tonight.”
There was something about the way she said ‘collect him’ that made me curious.
Sure enough, the next day there he was.
He looked terrible and he barely had enough strength to talk to me but over the next few weeks, as he got stronger, he told me his story, and how he came to be living with these kind humans.
I could tell you about it, but how about I let him tell it, he does it so much better than I……………
“I was lonely and I’d almost given up.
Dogs aren’t meant to live alone.
I remember being in the litter with my whole family, but now, there was just me.
My owner bought me to ‘protect the place’.
I don’t mind. I like protecting stuff, but as time went by I saw my owner less and less. Some days he forgot to bring me food.
I did my job.
I barked every time someone got close to the yard.
I could have done a better job if I hadn’t been chained up, but I did the best I could under the circumstances.
I had a little house to sleep in, but it did get very cold at night, but as my mum used to say to me, “If you are lucky enough to find an owner, find out what job he wants you to do and do it as well as you can.”
I tried very hard, but I was lonely and hungry most of the time.
Sometimes my water bowl ran dry.
That was very unpleasant.
In the winter, there were always puddles to drink out of, but the summer could be brutal.
All that was before Sally moved in next door.
I know her name is Sally because she told me so.
“Hi doggie, my name is Sally and there is nothing to be frightened about.”
I wasn’t frightened and my name wasn’t ‘doggie’ but there was something about this human that I liked. She smelled good.
I barked at her a bit because it was my job, but she knew my heart wasn’t in it.
She was very gentle and she seemed to understand my language.
She approached me ‘side on’ just like dogs we dogs do when we want you to know that we mean no harm. I let her scratch behind my ears. No one had done that for a very long time.
Sometimes, after she finished her work, she would come and sit with me and tell me about her day.
Her boss was an arsehole, apparently, and he did not appreciate her.
She had a boyfriend and he was a lot better than the boyfriends she had had in the past.
I was looking forward to meeting him, but she said he was afraid of dogs.
She said that he would come around; that he would learn to love and understand dogs.
She said that she hoped that he would ask her to marry him and if he did she would move in with him. This worried me a bit but then she said that if he did propose she would borrow his bolt cutters, jump the fence and cut me loose.
I would become her dog.
I liked the sound of that.
He might ask her to marry him and he might not, I will just have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, I’m here, eating my dinner in the rain, protected by Sally’s umbrella.
Dogs don’t hope, but if they did, they would hope for an owner like Sally.”
This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.
Billy Gest had replaced that drive shaft several times and he was getting a bit sick of it.
He drove that little Honda really hard, but you had to.
360cc is tiny for a car, no matter how small that car might be.
Front wheel drive and very little weight was causing most of the problems, but it was a great little car. It tended to conk out in traffic in really hot weather being air cooled but it was so light that he could push start it in traffic to get it going again.
All he had to do was jump out, give it a bit of a shove, jump back in and drop the clutch in second and she would fire up.
It must have been amazing to watch from the car behind!
Spinning the wheels was really easy in the wet or dry and this was what was chewing out the drive shafts.
As time went buy Honda stopped making new ones and the second hand ones ran out fast, as the left one would go more often than the right for a reason no one could explain, so there were less and less of them on the road until one day they were all gone.
Billy would have kept his going for a little longer but he was kinda broke and there was a baby and kids cost, big time.
So it sat in the driveway until some bloke knocked on the door and asked if he could have it.
Reluctantly Billy handed over the keys and watched as it was towed away.
A few years later money started finding it’s way into Billy’s life and he wished that he had kept that little Honda but at the time he had lost hope, so he let her go.
How long do you hang onto things in the hope that fate will supply the funds to fix them up?
Billy could not answer that question and neither can I.
It’s one of life’s little mysteries; it’s up there with why people by water in a bottle when they get it out of a tap.
No one is ever going to be able to explain that one!