Joe stood staring out at the sea. He was an upright weather beaten man in his late seventies. The large shaggy dog sat at his side.
Joe’s sadness stretched out and down into the depths of the sea, his school friend Larry had died two days ago. It was a fine funeral.
Joe wished he knew if there was something after this life. He would discover the truth sooner rather than later. He grinned remembering long hours spent debating the what if’s of the whole matter, while perched on their regular high stools. We enjoyed the debate, even if we never came to a concrete decision. He shook his head, now they would never debate anything again.
A bird flew low heading inland to it’s nest.
“We should do the same Rigsby”, he said, “but it won’t matter much if we take a bit more time. It’s nice out here.”
His eyes met the dog’s solemn stare, “raw and wild, the way life should be, not confined by rules we are afraid to step beyond.”
Joe chuckled remembering the way he could never colour within the given lines as a child. A talent he carried with him throughout his teenage years and into adulthood.
“Hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” he said as the dog nuzzled his hand. “But I’ve been told I have to conform, behave rather than indulge in whims, or wild and fanciful moments.” He had spent the last six months behaving in a manner befitting his age while he stayed by Larry’s side.
“Boring, awful depressing stuff,” he muttered. “But today we escaped our minders,”
Laura had been fussing about him going to a funeral, standing about in the cold. “You might catch something, Dad,” she scolded.
“Wouldn’t that be something! Imagine catching anything at my age,” he replied. He felt guilty at having given her the slip, she would worry and he’d hear all about it when she caught up with him.
He reckoned they had a good hour yet. ‘What would you do Larry if you were here with me?” He grinned as the sun switched its power on him.
He could hear his friend say, “Why Joe, I’d dive in, go for a swim, enjoy meself isn’t that what truly matters? Live for the moment.”
‘What the hell, you are right Larry. Let’s celebrate the fact that I am here,’ he chuckled as he pulled off his shoes and socks. “Come on Rigsby, let’s live!”
When the gentle ‘woof’ of approval was given together man and dog went for a paddle.
Shivering in the rain and wind Jane stood at the end of the pier. Pushing her sodden hair out of her eyes she searched in desperation beyond the dark water.
Life was not easy, that she accepted. The hard bit was being life’s scapegoat. ‘Put me in any golden moment, I will fall into a hole.’ There was no pity or sadness in her tone, just tiredness from thirty years of trying.
Workmates moaned about husbands, children and parents, Jane couldn’t because she had no one to moan about. She envied them. “But no more” She decided and sat on the edge of the cold concrete.
Out on the horizon a tiny boat battled the weather. She envied it. She supposed those on board had families anxiously waiting for their return. She sat searching deep inside for a reason to fight her emptiness.
The hovering group of seagull’s cries mocked her.
She needed a reason to try again, even for a moment. Truth was she had none. A single tear was flicked from her face but another followed.
A soft huff was accompanied by a gentle nudge in her back. Startled Jane turned about and found herself facing the darkest, most solemn looking eyes she had ever seen. ‘Go away dog, shooo!’
He considered her, licked the tears from her face then lay down close to her. ‘Typical even a dam dog won’t do what I ask.’ He placed his head in her lap. Tentatively her fingers stroked his head.
When Jane stopped petting him, he licked her hand. To her surprise she discovered his tongue tickled her skin. She wondered about his owners. Feeling for a collar she discovered he had none. Jane looked at him, really looked. He was the most awkward scruffy dog alive she decided. He would never be let inside the door of Crufts.
“Has life been precious to you?” Jane asked him.
His answer was to get to his feet. He stepped back from the edge, never taking his eyes from her. She glanced away to stare again at the dark murky water. It was cold, angry and no longer wholly inviting. With a shudder she turned and met his eyes.
He was smiling at her! Jane blinked and scowled, “what the hell have you to smile about”
The dog did a little dance about her and barked, It was a silly dog tail chasing bounding dance.
Jane felt the corners of her mouth tug. She looked high above her, the clouds were parting to reveal strong, warming sunshine.
He moved close to her. His warm soft coat brushed her hand again and again. She wondered about living for the moment.
His dance was leading them away from the pier. Jane followed him, muttering, ‘Ok I get it, let’s give it a try, fancy tinned salmon for supper?” His joyous bark brought laughter bubbling from within her.