Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Could you please spare a second, for I will be coming back a second time - a short story by Grant Harbison

On a cold urban street in New York City, a thirty year old man sat with a cup in his hand. Next to him a golden retriever began to whine.
“Are you hungry, girl?” he asked.
The dog began to whimper and wagged her tail.
The man tore some bread for himself and gave some to the dog. He opened a plastic water bottle and filled the dog’s bowl and then slaked his own thirst.
“That is the last of the food,” he said to the dog. “Shall I see if we can get some money from a kind passerby?”
The dog began to bark.
The man smiled and hugged the dog. “You are a truly wonderful friend. You came to me yesterday, but how faithful you are already? Unconditional love, huh?”
The dog’s ears flopped and she lay down submissively.
“Oh sweet creature, you have nothing to fear from me. The love that you show me will be returned in abundance. People are always in a rush, aren’t they?”
The man stood up and pleaded to the people passing by, but they all ignored him. Some even walked into the street to avoid him.
The man sighed, “Looks like this is going to be difficult, my four legged friend. Friday is always a bad day. They are just looking forward to the weekend.”
The dog barked again.
“Yes, you understand. Okay, be quiet for a bit. I see a gentleman coming. He looks like he has a good nature.”
The dog growled as the man approached.
“Excuse me sir, my four legged friend and I are in dire need of food and water. Could you see it in your heart to spare some change? God will truly bless you.”
“Get outta my way, you filthy bum! And don’t let that mangy creature near me!”
“My apologies, sir.”
“Filthy scum. Get a job!”
“My sincere apologies, sir.”
The dog whined.
“Don’t worry, sweet friend. Many are selfish, but there are a few who are kind. No matter what, we will not go hungry or thirsty tonight.”
After many attempts in trying to appeal to human kindness, the man sat back down with the dog and hoped that people would take pity. His main concern was for the dog. There had been days when he has had to go without food, but as resilient as the creatures are, he only wanted a full belly for it and warmth.
As the daylight began to fade, the passersby were getting less and less. His eyes lit up when a woman approached him.
“You should be ashamed of yourself!” she screamed at him. “How can you let a dog suffer like that?”
“I’m so sorry madam, but the dog came to me. She has nowhere to go and she is the only friend that I have. Please, if you can see it in your heart just to spare a little bit of money so that I can give her something to eat.”
The woman reluctantly opened her purse and gave him ten dollars.
“Madam, I cannot thank you enough. May God truly bless you!”
“Yeah, yeah, you all come out with the same crap,” she said and hurried away.
The man sighed and turned to the dog. “I think we have enough. Shall we go and get food?”
The dog rose, excitedly wagged her tail and followed the man. Ten minutes later, they reached a supermarket.
“Let me see what they have for you. Be good and wait for me. I’m sorry, but as wonderful as you are, they won’t let you inside.”
The man walked inside the supermarket and was immediately confronted by a security guard.
“Get outta here!”
“Please sir, I just need to buy a tin of food for my dog, some bread for myself and some water for both of us.”
“Do you want to chase our customers away?”
“No sir, that would be the last thing that I would want to do. If I can’t come in, could you see it in your heart to purchase those items for me? I shall give you the money.”
The guard looked at him with disgust and recoiled when he was given the money, as if he would contract a disease.
“Mike!” he yelled to one of the staff. “Get over here!”
When Mike came over, the guard gave him the money and told him what the man wanted.
Fifteen minutes later, Mike returned with the purchases.
“Here you go, and here’s your change,” he snarled. “Now get the hell outta here!”
“I require no change,” said the man. “You have been so kind."
When the man walked outside, the dog was sitting in the same place where the man had left her.
“Come on, faithful,” he cried. “Ah, a wonderful name for you. Let us go back to eat and sleep. I pray that no one has stolen our blankets. I hid them well, but the homeless are wise.”
When they got back, the man was happy to find everything intact. He opened the can of dog food, put it in a bowl, filled another bowl with water and smiled as the dog enthusiastically ate and drank. He took two slices of bread out of the packet. It tasted great, but he needed water to wash it down. He turned to look at the dog and saw that she had just flopped down after finishing her meal. He wrapped a blanket over her and kissed her head.
As he wrapped a blanket over himself and prepared to go down for the night, someone appeared in front of him.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Haven’t you had enough, my Lord? They are still the same, they continue to rebuff.”
“Gabriel, do not be unkind. I know what you are saying, but they are still blind. But I have to keep striving for the sake of mankind.”

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