I’m rather proud to say that I won a writing contest with this piece on the website The Write Practice. The theme was First Meeting.
That’s Not My Dog
by Audrey Francis-Plante
1 441 words
“Good morning,” I say. “I need you to make this dog poop. Please.”
The receptionist spits the coffee back in her Harry Potter mug. Then she looks down at Aphrodite next to me. Like always, the stupid thing’s tongue wobbles all over the place.
“Okay,” the girl tells me, gingerly setting her mug on the desk, her eyes still on Aphrodite. I can only describe this dog in three words. Ugly. Fat. And ugly.
“That’s not my dog,” I feel the need to specify.
“Um,” she retorts, “let me find someone suited for this job.”
“I didn’t know some veterinarians actually specialized in crap.”
“No. I just really don’t want to do it.”
“Please. This needs to be done ASAP.”
“Okay,” she says. “Be right back.” She leaves me there with the silly dog and I gasp when I see she’s been drooling on my indigo, shiny, and perfect DKNY heels.
“Don’t,” I hiss, wiping my shoe on her woolly and sad fur. “You’ve done enough already.”
I’m still crouched, polishing the tip of my heel on Aphrodite, the foolish beast presuming I’m rewarding her with a belly massage, when the girl comes back with the doc. Doc can easily be described in three words. Tall. Dark-haired. And hot. “Hello,” he says with a grin, offering me his hand. “I’m Doctor Fitzgerald.”
I shake his hand, not letting go of Aphrodite’s leash. “Hey,” I say. “You good with bowel movements?”
The receptionist chortles. “Nice to meet you too,” Doc simply says.
“Sorry. I’m Lauren. And I really need this poop five minutes ago.”
Doc’s green eyes glint with amusement. He represses a smile and motions toward a room behind the reception desk. “Let’s go in my office.”
“Come on, Aphrodite,” I mumble, pulling at the concerned idiot and walking into the cold blue office. My heels clack comfortingly against the white tiles, but I still must control my hands from quivering by rolling the leash around them.
“So,” Doc says as he closes the door. “Why exactly must that dog be discharged of her manure?”
I scratch the back of my head. “Is that relevant for the, um, operation?” I ask.
“I suppose not. Though if something in the desired fecal matter is subjected to harm the patient, I’d like to be warned.”
“Nope. Nothing dangerous.” Unfortunately. “It’s just a small thing, really.”
“So you won’t tell me what it is?”
I hold my breath. “How about we keep that a surprise?” I say with a wide smile, and eventually Doc smiles charmingly back.
A subtle look down at the left hand and….
“Very well,” he says, walking to the metallic shelves on the wall, where he prepares his tools. Over his shoulder, he looks at me, an eye creased in an attempt of a wink. “Surprise me.”
“I will,” I mutter.
Doc turns to my canine enemy and bends to pat her head. Aphrodite keeps smiling moronically, like she has no idea she’s most-likely ruining my whole existence. “What’s her name?” Doc asks.
“Aphrodite. Stupid name for a stupid dog.”
Doc kneels to Aphrodite. “I’m sure she’s not stupid,” he says. “It was an accident, right, Aphrodite?” Doc starts patting her under her chin: I almost jump over him.
“Don’t pat her there,” I burst out, my arms extended before me. “It constipates her.”
Doc looks at me for a long moment, then asks, “How would you know that?”
“Well,” I begin, tucking my hair behind my ears. “Every time I pat her there she gets, like, really excited and…I just know, all right? Can we please focus on the dung?”
“Absolutely.” Doc grins. “The dung.” He grabs a can in his cabinet and in a bowl he pours a paste, which stinks of three words. Brownish. Nauseating. Slick. The stench hits my nostrils at once.
“Sorry, Doc,” I say, gagging. “You misunderstood. I never said I wanted poop. I said I wanted her to poop. Hear the difference?”
“You’re like my wife,” he says, shaking his head. “She hates to come here because of the smell. I guess I got used to it.”
“A shame. You sure you want to work in this fancy attire?” I ask, jutting my chin at his white lab coat.
“I mean, you’ve seen the shape of that dog. It’s going to be some big—”
“I know. Let’s do this.”
He puts the bowl in front of Aphrodite and the twit rushes to it, engulfing the whole thing in three harsh licks. Then she looks up at Doc, as though expecting more.
“Now we wait,” Doc says, sitting at his office.
“How long will it take?” I ask, eyes on my watch.
“You’ll see. It’s pretty effective.”
“Perfect. Effective. Just what I need.”
“Is it your dog?” he asks me, lacing his hands behind his head.
“No. Absolutely not. I hate dogs. They eat things. Then they refuse to give them back. I just take care of her, once in a while, for my boss. She’s the worst boss in the whole world, FYI, so she makes it thoroughly impossible for me to refuse. It’s my day off, but I said I’d look after the dog for, like, three hours, while she goes on a romantic boat thing with her boyfriend. Of course, the dog had to mess everything up. If I don’t solve everything before they’re back, I’m dead.”
I glance at Aphrodite, who looks like she’s about to fall asleep.
“You’re a workaholic,” Doc says. “Just like my wife, again. She works her ninth day in a row today, in a company she owns, just because she loves it too much.”
“It was always my dream job,” I say awkwardly. I don’t like to be compared to workaholics. They’re three things. Selfish. Cold-hearted. Bitches. I never thought I’d be one. I force a smile. “That was a lot of talking. Is it working yet, Doc?”
A smile tickles the corner of his mouth. “Call me Collin,” he says smoothly.
“Collin,” I repeat with a tight nod, scratching my thighs.
“Let me guess.” He nods at Aphrodite. “It’s a key?”
“Nope.” I glance at my watch again. “Are you sure you gave her the right dose? I mean, she is huge.”
“I’m sure.” Collin stands up. “Look, she’s getting agitated.”
“Surprise on its way.”
Old Aphrodite starts pacing around the office, her tail waggling. “Shouldn’t we go outside?” I ask.
“No. Sad truth is: this office has handled this kind of situation often.”
Aphrodite barks and walks in my direction, stopping in front of me. “Don’t you dare,” I warn, jolting back. She settles by the door to do her thing, and Collin and I both stare at her with anticipation. “Better be intact,” I say as Collin puts some surgery gloves on.
Aphrodite twirls and barks again, then gambols around the room cheerily. Collin takes a little shovel and scoops the flabby, reeking, and huge excrement up on a plastic bag onto the medical table. “There you go,” he says.
I pinch my nose and approach the matter warily. “Is it there?” I ask, scanning the droppings.
“How would I know?” Collin says with a mocking smile. “I don’t know what I’m looking for.”
Something silver glimmers in the shit and I gasp, pointing. “Oh my god. There it is. There. Get it, get it, get it.”
“Yes. The small ring. There,” I say as he grabs the wedding ring with a pair of pincers. He walks to the sink and cleans the ring, frowning the whole time.
“This?” he emphasizes.
“Duh,” I say, impatiently looking for my wallet. “How much do I owe you? I need to get the hell out.”
Collin takes off his gloves and looks at the ring more closely. “How come she wasn’t wearing it?” he asks.
“Well—” The question never occurred to me. “Don’t know. Do I pay at the reception?”
Collin’s eyes are still locked on the ring. I sigh and clutch the jewel, securing it in my bag. “Doc? Doc? Collin? How much?” I ask again.
“I don’t know that dog,” he says.
“Then you’re lucky,” I say, but then I notice how pale he is. I follow his eyes to a picture on the wall. White dress. Couple. In love. Collin wears a tuxedo and looks straight into the eyes of the worst woman in the whole world.
“That’s my boss,” I say.
Collin doesn’t hear me. His own words are slow and strenuous, like the last lap of a windmill. “That’s not my dog.”
Written by Audrey Francis-Plante