‘I want to get a puppy,’ Lucy states
suddenly while lying in bed, her book abandoned on her lap.
Lee’s “book” lowers too as he gazes at her. ‘What?’
‘I think we should get a puppy.’
‘Why on Earth would you want to do that?’
‘I visited my friend, Amy, the other day and her and her husband recently adopted a puppy. It’s gorgeous. He’s brown and white with freckly spots on his snout. And his eyes are a vibrant blue…’
‘So, it’s a cute dog, but I bet you’d soon get sick and tired of it’s constant random puddles of wee, an excessive amount of scratching behind the ears and it’s disrespect for personal hygiene.’
‘Well it can’t be that hard, I put up with you don’t I? And no matter how many times I tell you, I still catch you scratching in bed.’
‘It gets sweaty down there. They’re not going to readjust themselves.’ Lucy can only gaze at him in disgust. ‘And anyway, this flat isn’t big enough to have a dog.’
‘It’ll only be a puppy Lee.’
‘Yes, but puppies grow and they start eating all your food and destroy stuff that’s not theirs.’
‘So do you.’
‘Having a puppy is a big responsibility Lucy. I can barely look after myself, how do you think I’ll be able to take care of a puppy?’
‘All you need to do is feed it three or four times a day, go for a walk at least once in the morning and once in the evening, and make sure it goes to toilet in the right place.’
‘You see. There’s a lot involved in looking after a puppy.’
‘I was talking about you.’ Lee glares at her. ‘Well, we don’t have to make any decisions now. We could give it a trial run.’
‘What do you mean, “a trial run”?’
‘We can look after my friend’s puppy for her this weekend.’
‘No chance. There’s no way I’m having a peeing machine running about this flat like…you’ve already said yes, haven’t you?’
Lucy beams as Lee sighs, knowing he wouldn’t have won the argument anyway. It has always been like this between them two. Whatever Lucy wanted she always managed to get. It’s the price Lee has to pay for the woman he loves. His dignity had long since deserted him. In fact, it disappeared the day Lucy walked into his life.
‘Come on Lee, she really needed the help. How could I say no?’
‘Quite easily. It’s an “N” followed by an “O”.’
‘You’ll enjoy it. And who knows, it maybe a successful experience all round.’
‘I could have you both potty trained by the end.’
in his stripy pyjama bottoms
and grey t-shirt, Lee saunters from the kitchen, bowl of cereal in hand, and
makes his way over to the sofa. Once
settled, he reaches over for the remote control only to find a sticky note
attached to it. Scrawled in Lucy’s
handwriting, it reads: “Gone to pick up the puppy, be back soon. P.S. the milk has gone off.”
Just as he reads the last, Lee takes a mouthful of his breakfast and immediately regrets it. Amongst the nutty and fruity flavour there’s an undertone of a sour chewy texture.
‘Just Right? Now it’s just wrong,’ and he spits the stuff back into the bowl before placing it onto the table. He peers at the note abandoned to one side. ‘Stupid idea all this puppy business. What would we want with a puppy anyway?’ and he relaxes into the back of the sofa and switches the television on.
‘Could you give this puppy a loving home? Call the number on the bottom of your screen…’
Lee quickly switches it off. ‘Too much TV is bad for you anyway. How about a bit of music instead?’ and he leans over to turn on the radio.
‘And they called it, puppy love…’
‘Nope,’ and that too is swiftly turned off. ‘Reading. Lucy is always going on at me about being more aware of what’s going on in the world. Lets see what’s in the news.’ On opening it up, the first words he clasps eyes on are: “Dog Saves Owner from House Fire.” ‘This is bloody ridiculous.’ He throws the newspaper down. ‘Is the world conspiring against me?’
‘Hi Lee, I’m back,’ Lucy says as she walks through the door with a small bundle of fur in her arms.
‘Is Lucy going to strip down to nothing but suspender belt and stockings?’ He stares at her longingly, but all she does is stroke the puppy’s head and speaks to it as one would do to a baby. ‘Yep. The world’s conspiring against me.’
‘This is Alfie,’ Lucy eventually introduces the brown and white Spaniel.
‘Hello Alfie, I’m Lee. Welcome to our home. Which item do you want to destroy first?’
‘He’s not like that. Amy says he’s very well behaved.’
‘She would say that, she wanted you to look after him.’
‘Come on Lee, just give him a chance.’
‘To what? Sink his teeth into me?’
‘What have you got against dogs anyway?’
‘Nothing. I just prefer them running around a racetrack chasing a stuffed rabbit rather than running around my flat chasing me. Me and dogs do not mix.’
‘Well here’s your opportunity to change that. I need to pop out and get some things. You can stay here and look after Alfie.’
‘You can’t leave me alone with him.’
‘Don’t worry.’ She shoves Alfie into Lee’s arms before disappearing into the corridor and then returning with a few items. ‘Here are a few toys and his cage with his bed. Now I’ll only be gone a couple of hours at most, so if he does misbehave you can shut him away in the cage for a bit.’
‘You hear that Alfie. If you are naughty you’ll be put behind bars.’
‘I was talking to the dog,’ Lucy smiles and then walks out the door.
Big blue eyes stare innocently up at the
towering man above. The tail thumps the
floor with every word that’s uttered. He
watches as the man points around the room, his face getting redder and redder
as his voice raises an octave higher. To
him, he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. All he was doing was having fun.
‘Fifteen minutes, Alfie! Lucy has only been gone fifteen minutes and in that time you have managed to break Lucy’s porcelain vase, bury your ball in that Yucca plant pot and recreate a scene from the Andrex advert. It’s taken me years to develop the art of mess making. You’ve managed it in a matter of minutes.’
There’s a knock on the door.
Picking up the puppy, Lee saunters over to answer it and finds his best mate on the other side.
‘Cheating on Lucy already I see. What have I told you about staying in touch with your ex’s,’ Tim states with a smile and makes his way inside. Lee simply rolls his eyes and shuffles on his feet trying to contain the squirming creature in his arms.
‘This is Alfie. Me and Lucy are looking after him for the weekend.’
Looking around the place, Tim notices the broken vase; strewn toilet paper trail from the bathroom into the living area and the muddy nose of the puppy.
‘And what a good job you’re doing. Was this all him, or has Lucy been teaching you how to use the toilet properly?’
‘It’s Alfie. He has this dream to be the next Andrex puppy.’
‘So where’s Lucy?’
‘Gone to get a few toys.’
‘What you and my sister get up to in the privacy of your own home is none of my business.’
‘For the puppy.’ Lee closes the door and goes to take a seat on the sofa with Alfie balancing on his lap. ‘She thinks it’ll keep him occupied. It’s not like he hasn’t got enough toys already.’ He nods over to the box in the corner. ‘But apparently they’re not good enough for him.’
‘Maybe he wants a walk.’
‘How can you tell?’
‘He’s got that look like he wants to escape. Can’t blame him though. Five minutes with you can do that to anyone.’
‘What if he runs away?’
‘If only some genius invented a lead type thing to keep him under control.’
‘What I mean is, I don’t know if he has one.’
‘Why don’t you check his stuff, there’s bound to be one amongst all that lot.’
‘Fine, here you go,’ and Lee lifts the puppy from his lap and places him onto his mate’s.
‘What am I supposed to do with him?’
‘I don’t know. Teach him how he can manage his bones and consolidate his monthly sum and turn them into a skeleton. At least if he falls asleep we won’t need to take him out.’
‘Do you know the first thing about looking after a puppy?’
‘Well he’s not dead is he? I always think that’s a good sign that I’m doing something right.’
‘That’s what you said about my goldfish.’
‘How was I to know that goldfish don’t do backstrokes?’
‘All you had to do was feed it.’
‘I did. I fed it to the cat.’
‘I don’t know what Lucy was thinking leaving you in charge.’
‘I’m not completely hopeless you know.’ He gazes at the box with furrowed eyebrows. ‘How do you open this thing?’
‘You squeeze the blue handles at the sides and it pops open.’
And with a click it opens. ‘Right.’
‘Erm, you may not need to find it anymore.’
‘Why?’ Lee asks as he gazes over his shoulder to see Tim holding Alfie at arms length.
‘My groin is now warmer than it was.’
‘Come on, do your watsits,’ Lee says to
the little puppy whose big blue eyes are currently staring up at him.
After finding the lead and leaving a note for Lucy explaining where they had gone, Tim and Lee, along with Alfie, left the building and headed to the park five minutes away.
‘What is he? A dog or a bag of crisps?’ Tim retorts while awkwardly smiling at a passer-by with their poodle.
‘Come on Alfie, do your business. What are you looking at me for? I’m not the one who’s been craping in the house.’
‘That’s not what Lucy said.’
Lee takes his eyes off of the puppy to glare at the man beside him, unconsciously slackening his clasp on the lead.
‘For the last time, it was chocolate.’
‘Either way, you weren’t allowed back on the sofa until you cleaned it up.’
Alfie spots another puppy across the green and with a little yap decides to investigate a potential new playmate. However, Lee and Tim are so engrossed in their conversation, this all goes unawares, until Lee decides it’s time to head back.
‘Where’s the dog?’ Lee asks while twisting this way and that.
‘I thought you had hold of him.’
‘I did. He must have escaped.’
‘Well done Sherlock. What now? You’re going to follow his footprints in the ground?’
‘I was being sarcastic,’ Tim sighs, placing his hands on his hips.
‘Lucy’s going to kill me.’
‘You weren’t planning on having children were you?’
‘Come on. We’ve got to find him quick.’
‘Here doggy, doggy, doggy,’ Lee calls out
as he’s rummaging around on his hands and knees in the bushes. ‘I’ve got a lovely little treat for you. I’ll let you wee and poo anywhere in the
flat, just come back before I find myself wearing my balls for earrings. Come here Alfie, I’ll give you a nice, juicy
Lee pokes his head up out of the bushes and gazes straight into the eyes of a startled couple in the middle of an amorous embrace on the bench.
‘This isn’t what it looks like.’
‘There you are,’ Lee hears Tim saying from behind. ‘Have you tamed that beast yet?’
The couples’ faces turn from shock to repulsion in a matter of seconds and quickly scarper from their position and head in the opposite direction.
After dusting himself off, Lee turns to Tim. ‘Well this is useless. We’ll never find him at this rate.’
‘What were you doing in the bushes?’
‘Playing peeping Tom. What do you think?’ He wipes his hands on his jeans. ‘I know I’ve wanted to experience new things, but that’s the closest I ever want to get to dogging. Come on, let’s go this way.’
The sun is warming up the atmosphere and people are
soaking up the moment and that’s exactly where you’ll find Lucy as she decides
to embrace the glorious weather by taking a detour through the park. However, her pleasure is soon spoilt as she
catches sight of a familiar man scuffling around on his hands and knees.
Pausing in the process of checking under a bench, Tim turns his head upwards to face his bewildered sister.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Would you believe me if I said I’m searching for treasure?’
‘Yes.’ She raises her eyebrows. ‘But that’s not what you’re looking for, is it?’
‘No. Lee and I decided to take Alfie for a walk.’
‘Please don’t tell me you’ve lost him.’
‘Lee or the dog?’
‘The dog you idiot!’ Tim slowly stands up. ‘What am I going to tell Amy?’
‘It’s okay, Lucy, I’m sure Lee will find him.’
But the next minute they hear a resounding slap and they turn around to see Lee shuffling backwards towards them trying to defend himself against an old lady with a walking stick.
‘I’m sorry; I thought it was a puppy! How was I to know it was your hat?’ The woman brandishes said hat to Lee before storming off in the other direction. ‘Stupid old bat,’ he mutters and turns around only to jump back at coming face to face with his angered wife. ‘Lucy! What are you doing here?’
‘I could ask you the same thing, but Tim has already filled me in. So, have you found him?’
‘Does it look like it?’
‘You better find him Lee, otherwise it’ll be you sleeping in the dog bed tonight,’ and with that, Lucy pushes past them then out of the park.
‘Well done genius, why did you have to go and tell her?’ Lee glares at Tim.
‘It’s not my fault. You’re the one who let go of the lead.’
‘It was your idea to take the dog for a walk in the first place.’
‘Excuse me gentlemen?’ a stranger says.
They simultaneously turn to face the newcomer and practically shout ‘What?’ at the poor woman.
She almost leaps away from them. ‘Is this dog yours by any chance?’ and held comfortably in her arms is a panting Alfie.
Tim reaches out to take hold of the worn out puppy. ‘Thank you Madame.’
‘I get to keep my bollocks,’ Lee sighs with relief, while the woman frowns at him. ‘Come on Tim, time to get him home.’
‘Today didn’t go as well as I had hoped,’ Lucy says as
both her and Lee sit side by side on the sofa, each with a cup of hot
‘It could have been worse.’
‘That Chinese takeaway wanted to take him off our hands. I guess number 28 is off the menu.’
‘Alfie wasn’t all that bad. He can be a darling really,’ she says as she gazes down at the sleeping puppy at her feet.
‘Yeah. When he’s not creating miniature lakes and doing a Houdini disappearing act on me, he farts in his sleep.’
‘He’s not the only one.’ She looks at him pointedly. ‘Maybe getting a dog isn’t a good idea. Trying to housetrain one animal is bad enough.’
‘Oh I don’t know, I guess they have their uses.’
‘I can blame someone else for that puddle in the bathroom.’