Sunday 7 February 2016

The Good Companion

Queuing to pay for the milk, I saw the face appear at the door with a look saying “Why are you taking so long?” I’d been nervous when I saw the couple in front of me. Ponderous contemplation about which variety of goats cheese, should they really have the Vignotte? A long wait loomed large. My eyes darted betwixt door and milk, anxiety rising, as the second assistant rescued me.

En route home from the Library, I’d popped round to Rachel’s on the off chance she was still at the flat rather than busying herself in her wood. It was earlier than I would normally have called on someone on a Saturday morning, but as soon as I rang the bell I heard Kali so I knew she was there. The door opened to the normal warm welcome from both dog and owner. Still dressed in her nightwear I mumbled something about just passing, thought I’d pop in to see how you were. “Yes, yes, come in. I’ve not been sleeping so well. I’ll put the kettle on, come in, come in” As the Lapsang was spooned into the teapot we chatted about books. “oh dear I’ve no milk” “no problem, black’s fine” “But I do need to get some” “I’ll go” “it’s just across the road, I.. I’ll give you the money” as she rummaged for her purse.

Kali followed me down the stairs, keen to be out and about. I stopped before opening the door “Will he stay with me?” My unheard question hung in the air. “Ok you can come with me if you stay with me” I found myself saying to the dog as if it was a child. So there I was, with her dog, not on a leash: an undisciplined, learner let loose on Saturday mid morning in the Throughfare. As Kali charged off at speed I attempted to call him back. He stopped, turned, waited and we stepped out together into the main drag. Then the sound of gruff barking. Another dog also not on a leash. “Kali, here” as I walked across the far side of the precinct in an attempt to give that dog’s owner time to retrieve the situation. “Fluke, I though” as Kali too crossed over and we walked together along the line of shops “Oh shit can’t take a dog in a food shop” “Kali, wait” and I went inside.

And here he was, tail wagging, ears up, eyes beckoning me, face slightly cocked to one side enquiringly, looking through the clear panel of the deli door. Milk now paid for, the two of us begun our walk back. Gruff barking again. “Damm” I’d forgotten about the other dog outside the cafĂ©. This time Kali was behind me, sniffing a road side planter. “Kali, with me” and up he trotted to my side, ignoring the other dog, as we passed straight by it and into the alleyway back to the flat.

“He went with you?” “Yes, such a good dog, obeyed my every word”. As I sat down to my cup of tea, Kali came over and gave me a kiss on the ear “Good human. Good human”.

© Sheila Ash 7th February 2016

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