Second Hand

“Happy birthday Sweetie!” Ronnie said walking into my yard like they were on the runway during New York Fashion Week… from 1973. They did look fabulous, and only Ronnie would put that much work into looking ’70s stylish.

“Thanks, what did you get me?” I said.

“It’s in the car. Impossible to make an entrance with it, so I came without.”

“You know better than to ask me to get it,” I said, one leg dangling out of the hammock so that I could rock myself. I had a Blue Moon on the table next to me and a book in my lap.

“I can’t in these shoes.” They were wearing white, three inch platforms. The shoes were fantastic with the bell-bottoms with crazy color patterns.

“And I can’t in this hammock.” I had drawn the line three years ago when I had a broken shoulder, and Ronnie had me carrying their groceries.

“Do you really expect…”

“Yes. When my shoulder was…”

“Fine, I’ll get it, but I can’t stay.”

I raised my Blue Moon to them and said, “As you wish.”

I heard the platforms clump out of the yard and fade. I heard a car door open and Ronnie scream, “Not the pants!”

They made noises of unhappiness all the way back to my yard. That’s not unusual for Ronnie.

They flung the gate open, threw something in, stepped in and shut the gate. A dog rocketed around the yard, trailing the leash Ronnie had thrown.

“You have a dog,” I said.

“It was a gift from my ex.”

“Why are you back with her?”

“Well…”

I didn’t want to hear the the bullshit explanation, so I watched the brown dog sniffing at my irises. “He or she?”

“She.”

She ran and as she built up speed, I realized she was heading right for the hammock. Leap! Sail! Land on my abdomen!

“Blrgh!” I said. “Ooof! Stop!” She was settled between my legs and was licking my face and nibbling my ears, her whippy tail moving fast enough that I couldn’t see it. The hammock rocked like the cradle in the tree top.

I was giggling, which made her put her paws on my chest and wash my face with her tongue and nibble my nose.

“Hey, that hurts,” I said putting my thumbs through her harness and pushing her down to the foot of the hammock where I removed her leash. She wiggled with joy and kept licking as if my face was still in front of her.

“Weirdo,” I said as I rubbed her neck. She flopped on her side and I rubbed her belly, her long, slender legs waving in the air. Her legs collapsed and she fell asleep. A handler would have to run to show off this dog’s gait.

“Well, dearie,” Ronnie said, striking a calculated pose, “I’m off.”

“What’s her name and when will you be back to get her?”

“Mercedes, and I won’t. She’s your birthday gift.”

Ronnie pranced out of the yard faster than I had ever seen them prance.

“Hey!” I said, looking at Mercedes. She tilted her head to the left, her alert eyes scrutinizing me. She had a black muzzle fading to brindled brown like the rest of her body. She looked like a shepherd, but her nose was a little too boxy to be full shepherd.

She opened her mouth slightly and groaned low and mournfully as she looked at the gate. “Yeah buddy, they’re gone.” I saw a bag sitting by the gate. Ronnie must have dropped it when they brought Mercedes in.

Mercedes ears were floppy, and she had them against her head as she groaned again, still looking at the gate. “Shall we see what they’ve left for you?”

Her ears perked and one stood at floppy attention while the other just flopped. Here eyebrows popped up and down as she followed my movements.

I swung my other leg out of the hammock and she jumped out. She plopped her rear on the ground and did a perfect obedience sit, quivering with excitement.

I walked to the bag and she followed like a kangaroo, popping straight up two feet into the air every other stride. Her tail was held high in a curving arc. At the same time as bouncing, she was trying to look into my eyes, eat my ear, and lick my face. An agility dog in the rough.

Inside the bag was a bowl, a kong, and a bag of dog food. I stroked her lean body and she stretched into the strokes. “You are not a Mercedes. And I’m not naming you after a coffee.” I liked the Japanese name Keiko, but the gentle name did not fit the dog now digging furiously in the middle of my perfect lawn.

“I think… Trixie.” The dog paused, straddling the hole and looked at me. There was a pile of dirt on the top of Trixie’s muzzle. I laughed.


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