Fiction: A Dog Named Christmas
(Page 12 of 17)
Todd looked up and down the list until he saw the perfect match for old Hank. He scribbled Hank’s name beside an entry then turned to me.
“Good choice?” he asked, pushing the list across the table to me.
“None better,” I said. “What we need now, Todd, is a ‘closer.’ Somebody who can make the deal happen, someone with unparalleled powers of persuasion, someone who will not accept no for an answer.”
I turned abruptly toward my wife and said, “Mary Ann, call Hank and Jean, and tell them their dog is a twelve-year-old black-and-tan male coonhound. And tell them that he likes all cows, but prefers Holsteins.”
Mary Ann, it seemed, was getting into the spirit as well. She moved toward the phone and resolutely put her fingers into the small oval holes of the dial.
“Jean, this is Mary Ann. How are you this morning? ... Beautiful day, isn’t it? ... Is Hank done with his milking? ... Sure glad you guys came by yesterday. ... Say, Jean, we were just talking to the shelter, and I guess they have a coon dog over there that still needs a home.”
Mary Ann paused momentarily, and then went for the sale.
“Are you and Hank still interested?”
There was a long pause, and Todd and I began to wonder.
“I’m sure George and Todd could pick him up for you,” Mary Ann said, “and take him back, too.”
I moved closer to Mary Ann so I could hear the other end of the conversation. Jean seemed to be trembling, perhaps near tears.
“Well, we don’t have any dog food, and we’re going to be gone an awful lot of Christmas Day,” Jean said.
I whispered to Mary Ann to tell Jean that we would buy the dog food.
She pushed me away and turned her back to me.
“I understand, you and Hank being at that point in your life and all. Why, if you talk to Hank and he changes his mind, you give us a call. ... Merry Christmas to you, too.”
Todd looked up at me stupefied.
“Dad, I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t old Hank want a dog for a few days?”
I searched hard for a good answer, but I couldn’t find one that Todd would accept. It wouldn’t dawn on him that most of us just get tired of giving.
“I don’t know, Todd. Maybe he has too many cows,” I said.
I knew that response was a fill-in-the-blank for most of us. If it wasn’t too many cows, it was too many kids or too much work. The point was that there was seldom room at our inns.
There were two more calls that didn’t go well either. I was beginning to wonder if our plan was going to work. Perhaps my reflection in the mirror should have told me to leave it alone for now. But Todd would have none of that approach.
“Mark will take the dogs. ... I know he will,” Todd said. “Call him.”
I called Mark, but it seemed he wasn’t home. We were all surprised and pleased to find out that he was at the shelter picking up three dogs, one for each of his kids.
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