by Dani Cole
George regretted putting ‘dog lover’ on his dating profile. He didn’t like dogs. In fact, he hated them, but Angela, whom he had invited over for dinner, adored them. In order to seem more genuine, earlier that day he had borrowed the neighbour’s dog to pass off as his own. He hadn’t seen it in hours as it had somehow crawled under his garden fence and disappeared. Despite this setback, the evening looked promising; after being gently plied with wine, Angela was beginning to yield to his advances. Things were looking hopeful.
Alas, the tranquility was shattered by a row about a dog. Her dog, to be exact. She had brought it with her as it hated to be parted from her, she claimed. The dog in question was a scrawny and unsociable creature named Bollinger. He was supposedly the offspring of a champion Golden Retriever, though he had a coat like a matted carpet and was the wrong colour. When George had been introduced to the animal, Bollinger had eyed him with undisguised distaste before lifting a leg and urinating over his new shoes.
Now, eating a dinner of chicken casserole, Angela dropped pieces of food which Bollinger licked up, leaving long, thick threads of saliva on his floorboards. George kept quiet and instead reached for the wine. After perhaps too much wine, he questioned the pedigree of the animal. This turned out to be an unwise move.
“What do you mean you think he’s a mongrel?” Angela shouted incredulously across the table. “He has one of the finest pedigrees in the whole of bloody Devon! The whole of England!”
“I didn’t say mongrel, I just thought that his coat… is the wrong colour.” George replied.
It was evident the dog was not of the pedigree that Angela thought he was. He was unsure whether she believed it, or was merely wanting an argument. He had never understood the ways of women. George tried to divert the oncoming storm by offering more wine, which Angela accepted reluctantly.
“Well, you were clearly implying Bollinger was a mongrel.”
It seemed she would not let the subject drop.
“Have you ever considered checking his pedigree?” George suggested tentatively. He watched in dismay as Angela swallowed her wine angrily, and snapped,
“I already did, I’m not an idiot.”
Well you obviously are, George thought. Angela’s mouth opened, as if she had heard him. As it turned out, the wine had rendered George unable to distinguish between thought and speech. He knew that after uttering those words, all hopes of romance had dissipated into the air like smoke.
They sat in silence as the chicken began to congeal on their plates, quivering unpleasantly. Angela slid the remainder of her meal onto the floor, which Bollinger licked appreciatively.
“Thank you for dinner.” Angela said stiffly, “though you needn’t have bothered.”
She stood up, reaching for her coat and George followed her helplessly to the front door. Bollinger raised his leg for one last time and left a yellow stream running slowly over the carpet.
“There’s always dessert!” George called out after them, as he watched woman and dog walk away from him, down the street and into the night.
Dani Cole lives in Devon, and is a lover of words and silly hats.