"You don't need a silver spoon to eat good food."
-Paul Prudhomme

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Three - Apartment in the back of Ann's Restaurant

With the cold and the snow, lunchtime at Ann's restaurant was dead.  Only a few hours after she opened, she tells her staff to go home and stay warm, assuming that all of her customers are doing the same.  She flips the hanging "OPEN" sign to "CLOSED," and heads out back for a cigarette.

She stands on the steps outside the backdoor, her rubber chef shoes crushing the rock salt that she put out this morning.  Taking a deep drag on her cigarette, she is mesmerized by the falling snowflakes, dainty and dreamy as they float down to the ground, then heavy and wet as they meet the dirty slush of urban wintertime.  Beyond the dumpster lot of the restaurant, she sees Dreamwood Avenue, covered in a slick blanket of ice, unfrozen and re-frozen by the friction of car tires and the bitter cold, respectively.  Across the white ice blanket, Ann sees a dog leap out the front door of Dreamwood Terrace, its little paws meeting the hostile ice without welcome.  The poor animal slips and slides as it tries to regain its balance.  In a somewhat-comical and somewhat-pathetic spectacle, the dog makes it across the street, and meets Ann's gaze from across the lot.  
"It's a small dog," she thinks, "not capable of any real harm."  The dog holds Ann's gaze and cocks her head to one side.  In doing so, the dog throws off her own balance and goes toppling into the slush beside her.  
"Do I help it?" Ann says to herself.  "What if it attacks me? What if when I pick it up it claws me with its razor-sharp claws and bites my hands?  I need my hands to cook.  I can't help that dog.  It's just going to have to figure its own shit out.  Dumb dog."  The dog shakes off the dirty slush and begins to make her way towards Ann.  
"Why is it coming towards me?  Why do its eyes look so weird?" She thinks, tossing her cigarette into the slush.  She puts her hand behind her back to grab the doorknob, only half sure about whether or not she's going to go back inside and leave the dog in the snow to freeze.  
"Glossy eyes, that's a sign of rabies I bet," she rationalizes.  "Better leave it alone to be safe."  She goes back inside and locks the door- both locks, just in case the dog is tricky with doors.  

A few minutes later she hears a scratching at the door, and a whimpering to follow.  She walks over to the door and, very carefully, peers out the window.  The dog is sitting on the doorstep, wet and shivering.  It's big glossy eyes meet Ann's, and for a minute or so, her fear vanishes.  She stares at the odd dog through the glass for a while, and then turns away towards the kitchen.  She grabs two oven mits for protection and returns to open the door for the pitiful animal.  The dog topples through the doorway and lays down, right in the middle of her apartment living room.  With one mitted hand, she leans over to pet the dog on its back.  Its stomach growls, making Ann jump.  
"I guess you're my only hungry customer today, huh?" she chuckles.  She disappears into the kitchen and returns with a bowl of ground beef and pepperoni.  She sets the bowl a few feet from the dog.  Immediately the dog stumbles towards the bowl and practically inhales the meat before laying back down and closing it's glossy red eyes.  
"You know pup, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you look high as a kite! Stumbling through the snow, eating all my food, and then passing out in my living room? I'll call you Mary-Jane."

Ann hears a knocking at the front door of the restaurant and hops up to see who it is, praying for the dog's owner.

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