Here's a flash fiction piece I wrote about the town I live in. Everyone has dogs. Everyone. Almost like it's required....
It was a typical Saturday when they finally showed up. I had expected them for a long time but, still, I was a little surprised. The couple, in casual business attire, knocked on the door and stood calmly on the front porch. I opened the screen door and leaned against the doorframe. I certainly wasn’t going to invite them in.
“Hi, I’m Jerry and this is Liz, from the city. How are you today?”
A man, a woman, and a big black dog were on my front porch. I knew immediately why they were here.
“Hello,” I said, trying to sound polite.
“Mr. Robertson, right? You’ve lived in town … 18 years. Our records show that you do not own a dog.”
The man named Jerry said this in a tone that implied that this was some important matter that I had overlooked, like I had forgotten to pay my property taxes or failed to notice my house had no roof. I had known that this day would come.
“I think you know that here in our town, everyone should have a dog.”
I understood what he meant. Our town has sixty thousand people and probably as many dogs. It seemed like everyone had a dog, some people had more, and they took them everywhere.
I stood in the doorway, one hand on the door. The dog’s tail thumped on the wooden surface of the porch.
“I have a cat already, I really don’t think that a …”
“So,” He said with a smile, “Here is your dog – his name is Midnight. He’s a lab, they’re real good swimmers.”
“Look,” I tried to interject, “I don’t -“
The woman started talking then, interrupting me in mid-sentence.
“Here is his leash and your free dog dish.”
With a big smile, she began handing me the leash and the dish. I hesitated to accept them. At the same moment, Midnight plunged forward, nudging me as he passed and rushing into the house. The leash began to fall and I reached out and caught it without thinking. All of a sudden, the dog was in the house and I was holding a leash. I turned to see the cat jump up onto the back of the couch, seeking the safety of higher ground. Midnight was oblivious to the cat and clearly more focused on wagging his tail and sniffing the entryway.
The man and woman smiled happily, as if they were missionaries and I had just agreed to convert.
“Have a nice weekend,” the man said.
“Enjoy your new best friend.” The woman said. They turned and marched carefully down the steps.
I closed the door. The dog sat in the middle of the room, looking at me expectantly. The cat sat on the top of the couch, ears back. The cat watched the dog. The dog looked at me, waiting. At the moment, I didn’t know what to say.
Jerry and Liz climbed into the unmarked black SUV parked at the curb. The doors closed with a soft clunk. Inside, the temperature was cool and pleasant. Dogs panted softly in the rear of the vehicle.
“Think that one will work out?” Liz asked sliding sunglasses into place on her perky little nose.
“Sure, it’ll be fine.” Jerry replied.
He pulled his seatbelt across his body and heard it click into place.
“But the cat … “
“They’ll work it out. He has a pet already, that means he likes animals. He’ll make it work somehow.”
Jerry turned to look at the remaining dogs. They shifted, turned, sat up at the possibility of human attention.
“We have, what, four dogs left? By 3:30 everyone in town will officially own a dog.”
Jerry and Liz gave each other a gentle high five of congratulation. The big SUV pulled away from the curb and blended into traffic.