Just a silly little story.
I watch from the corridor as Sheila walks to the front door, opens it, and looks out into the dark.
‘Dog?’ she calls.
She stands and waits, and I hear the swish of tyres on the wet motorway.
‘Dog?’ She steps onto the path and takes a few strides to the gate, and shouts.
‘Dog!’ and waits some more.
The door of number 16 cracks open. ‘Sheila?’ a voice hisses. ‘What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know what time it is?’
She ignores the voice. It’s Dan, next door. She walks along the pavement.
‘Right, Sheila, if you don’t go back inside, I’m calling the police, love; I’m warning you.’ He’s a kind old boy, and I hear that in his voice, but he’s also annoyed, probably at being woken this early. I look up at the kitchen clock. 3.44am. I go to the door and peep out, to get a better view. She doesn’t usually have an audience. But then, she’s never shouted it before.
She turns and looks at him. ‘I can’t find Dog.’
‘What? What dog, You don’t have a dog, do you?’
‘I can’t find Dog. I need him.’
Dan gathers his dressing gown around him and tiptoes down his own path in his sensible old-man slippers, to his gate.
‘Why don’t you come in, love, and have a cuppa, and we can talk about it, eh?’
She studies his face. ‘Will you help me find him?’ she asks. ‘After we’ve had a cup of tea?’
‘Yes, I’ll help, but honestly, Sheila, you don’t have a dog. You’ve never had a dog. What makes you think you do?’
She reaches into the pocket of her anorak and pulls out a leather lead. ‘Whose is this, then?’ she asks.
He looks at it. ‘I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s yours, Sheila. I mean, why would you have a lead when you don’t have a dog?’
‘I have no idea. But why do you say I don’t have a dog? You know I do. You’ve seen him. You must have.’
‘Honestly, Sheila, are you going doolally? Anyway, where’s Harry? Is he away?’ He leads her down the path to his front door, and she puts the lead back in her anorak pocket and follows him inside. At the door, she turns her gaze toward me, but looks right through me.
I am Dog. She keeps me on the lead, but yesterday I got loose, and she strangled me with it. Now I lie in the cupboard under the stairs, waiting for discovery.