Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Happy( 07/12/07)
By william price
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Zachariah Roberts was sipping tea in his rocking chair on his porch watching nature’s fireworks when a stray dog wandered onto his lawn. No doubt it was a mutt; a mixture of at least five different breeds. It slowly ambled up to the porch steps and sat down. It looked like it was smiling.
“What’s your name?” Zachariah asked as he stroked his solid white beard.
The mutt just sat, panting.
“Okay, so you can’t speak. I wish my last wife would’ve had that problem.”
Still, the dog sat and stared at the widower, its big brown eyes glistening.
“Oh, so you don’t like wife jokes, eh? Must be female. You just out for a stroll? You hungry? Thirsty?”
The mutt remained silent.
“Tell you what, Missy. I’ll go in and get you something to eat and drink. I have two slices of baloney left. I’ll share. And I have the coldest water in town. My secret? I keep it in the fridge. Don’t tell, okay?”
Zachariah limped inside his house to fetch the food for his guest. When he came back out she was gone.
“Hmmm? Hey, Missy.”
He whistled. Nothing. The old man’s smile dissolved. He turned and slowly took the meat and water back in the house. It was getting late so he started getting ready for bed. Zachariah went back out on the porch to get his tea cup and saw two mutts sitting before him.
“What’s this,” he asked scratching his balding head.
“Just because you heard me say I had two pieces of baloney doesn’t mean I have one for your friend. You’ll just have to share. An old man has to eat also.”
The two mutts sat and panted.
“Your friend is about as talkative as you, Missy.”
Zachariah started to go back into the house when a large crack of lightning exploded on a power pole a few houses down. Sparks flew into the air. The street went dark, except for the old wooden house. It had the only lights the old man could see.
After a few minutes Zachariah noticed candles being lit in his neighbors’ homes. A couple people ventured out their front doors with flashlights.
“Well, Missy. You and your friend must be pretty special mutts. Seems I have the only electricity on the block.”
One-by-one, neighbors started making their way to Zachariah’s well lit house. Mrs. Winkersham, a round looking woman in her mid-sixties waddled over first.
“Hello neighbor,” Mrs. Winkersham said with a raspy voice. “My name’s Martha. Don’t think we’ve met. These your dogs?”
Zachariah hadn’t had any company in years.
“They’re my dogs tonight, Martha. Pleased to meet you. My name’s Zach.”
Other neighbors stopped by. Soon, about a dozen people were sitting on Zachariah’s front porch marveling that his electricity was still on.
In the middle of multi-conversations, Zach looked down at the two mutts.
“Almost forgot about you and your friend, Missy. Let me go get you something to eat.”
The not-so-lonely old man turned to his other guests, “Shall I put some tea on for everyone?”
“That would be nice, Zach,” Mrs. Winkersham responded with a warm smile.
Mr. Silverbean from across the street offered to go get some banana bread. Roberta Moore said she had some apple pie. Zachariah was in such good spirits he gave both pieces of his baloney to the mutts.
The next hour everyone sat, talked, ate, sipped tea and took turns petting the dogs. They decided to call Missy’s friend, Harpo, because he didn’t speak. Zachariah never laughed so much.
It wasn’t long and the lights came back on Nelson Avenue. Everybody groaned and reluctantly headed back to their homes. Zachariah was watching Mrs. Winkersham waddle down the sidewalk when she turned around.
“Hey, Zach. Would you like to go to church Sunday?”
The old man thought about it for a second and looked down at the mutts. Missy let out a bark and Harpo nodded his head.
“Yes, Martha. That would be nice,” Zachariah answered with a big grin.
When he looked back down for the mutts they were gone.
The old man tilted his head and then up toward the sky.
“Angelic mutts? God, you have to be real. Thanks for caring about an old lonely man. See you in church.”
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