Friday, March 30, 2007

Television, Part 1

(First in a two-part series.)

Lynn noticed the dog first. A rope with a puffy, frayed end tied it to a light post.

The dog wagged its tail, but didn't bark. Three women bent to coo in puppy talk, but their eyes narrowed at the girl leaning against the wall. It was her dog. She was the one who tied the dirty bandana around its neck.

The girl sat cross-legged on a few layers of cardboard. Kind of Zen-like. A couple knelt to talk to her rather than the dog. Their faces were shadowed and pained. The girl's face drifted with a slow, syrupy peace.

Lynn approached and stood behind the couple.

"Can we get you something? What would you like? A sandwich? We can get you a sandwich."

Food. Always a dilemma.

A woman butted in. "Do you feed this dog? Look. I can see his ribs."

The boyfriend glared back. The girl just stared down at her knees.

The woman dug into her purse in a huff. She shoved three dollars at the girl. "This isn't right. He shouldn't be out here all day like this."

The girl took the money. The woman patted the dog, cupped his face, and sang a goodbye. She rushed off with her spring coat flapping.

Lynn smiled.

The couple shook their heads at the dog lady. "So what can we get for you?"

The girls lips parted only a crack, like the effort overwhelmed her. The couple leaned in. Lynn couldn't hear what she breathed out.

"Alright. If you're sure. You find a safe, warm place tonight then. Okay?"

The girl took the five the couple offered. Lynn spied mottled bruises creeping down her forearm. Of course, the couple saw nothing.

"We'll come see you again, okay? To make sure you're alright."

Lynn watched the couple stand. They didn't want to leave her. They were such good people.

The idiots.

Lynn was now the only one. The girl fixed on Lynn's shoes, then crawled her gaze up to Lynn's knees, her waist, her face.

No recognition. Lynn was too clean and well dressed.

Good. What would she have said, anyway?

Someone swooped in and dumped more change for the dog. Damn, the girl was good.

That was enough cash for two bags. Did she shoot three? Probably. The chick could obviously afford it, so why not?

Lynn moved on. She had a few dollars left for coffee. That's why Danny always sent her to buy. She could talk anybody down.

She decided to sneak a bagel too. She liked the way they looked in the basket so much better than they looked in the trash.

Danny didn't have to know.

Go to Part 2.


anne said...

Woah. Those aren't the cheerful thoughts one should be having on a Friday...!
Although the- is "humour" the word I'm looking for?- dark humour then, is- is "refreshing" the word I'm looking for?- unexpected anyway. ;)

Scott said...

Ok, you got my attention...

Bernita said...

That's the word.

Jaye Wells said...

You're so good at the surprising twist. The satire is nice too. You do a nice job of guiding the reader through this.

kcterrilynn said...

*Sigh* I'm going to be wondering about the poor (fictional) doggie all day. Now that's good writing.

Have a great weekend, Jason!

Bev said...

ok Jason, what wicked people were doing what bad thing to a dog that inspired this?

You've done it again of course...can't wait to see how this ends!

billie said...

Yes, I think evocative is the perfect description... :)

I love how by the end of the vignette I've forgotten my concern for the dog and the girl and am now completely focused on Lynn and Danny.

It layers well.

Anonymous said...

Anne, yeah, the spicy stories are more fun on Fridays. :D Thanks for the comment! It reflects that this isn't a clear cut story.

Scott, this is the best kind of serial. Nice and short. You don't have to wait long!

Bernita, thank you. :) I'll take that word any day.

Jaye, thanks for the compliment. :) I wanted the reader to get comfortable with Lynn, to step into her "superiority" in the moment only to find she is really no different than the drug addicted homeless girl. Perhaps worse.

KC, I've occasionally seen homeless people with dogs. It's a "smart" approach. People will give money for a dog more readily than for a person. Not a great life for the dog, though.

Bev, I'm not sure whatever happened to the girl with the dog (yes, they were real). The greater story will be revealed in the second piece.

Billie, much appreciated, my friend. That layering was essential to what I'm doing here. We'll be following Lynn "home" next.

k.l.gilbert said...

Your story is gritty. I like the way you used the dog and homeless girl as a vehicle to introduce Lynn - and alude to Danny. Very clever hook. My mind is racing on in wonder. What will we find as Lynn approaches home?

Nice work...K

apprentice said...

Yes great hook and seeding of info, look forward to the next installment

Anonymous said...

Kaye, thanks for the wonderful feedback. :) I'm glad the narrative vision worked!

Apprentice, it's always a delicate process, but those technical elements are essential to the experience. I like when I manage to pull it off. =)