Thousand Words Project

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Wednesday Morning Rides

There is a very long list of things Mike does not like. There is a considerably shorter list of things he does. At fifty he feels certain of the truth of the two lists and if asked would be strongly opposed to making any changes at this juncture.

A sampling of things Mike Does Not Like:

1. People
2. Muddy Boots
3. Yard Work
4. Sandals
5. People Who Own Dogs
6. Dogs

It should be duly noted, this is a brief excerpt.

A sampling of things Mike Does Like:

1. His Motorbike
2. Riding His Motorbike
3. Cleaning and Maintaining his Motorbike
4. Kraft Brand Single Slices of Cheese

He also looks favorably on white Wonder Bread, lightly toasted.

The motorbike in question is a Tomos from the mid 1980s. While it is old, Mike is diligent and fastidious about keeping it in prime working condition. The paint is still pristine, the tires always properly inflated, and the gas tank never below 34 of a tank full. Mike takes it out for the following purposes:

1. Monday Afternoon, To Buy Groceries, mostly bread and Kraft Single Slices
2. Wednesday Morning, To Drive Around the Lake
3. Friday Evening, To the Bar
4. Sunday Morning, To Church

When Mike is not involved in one of these activities, he is likely to be found in the garage, tending to the Tomos as other people might tend to a garden or favored pet. This is what he is doing when he hears the strange sound from the bushes lining the front of his little house. The sound is a high pitched little wail. Soft and pleading and, Mike realizes with a shudder, in pain. He studiously ignores it for as long as possible, but the little voice continues and, improbably, seems to get more and more urgent.

Mike doesn’t like this.

With an exaggerated grunt of frustration, he throws the rag he was using to clean the Tomos aside and marches out the door intent on silencing the sound. His face, if there were someone around to see it, would be the very picture of long-suffering. His boots make a vaguely annoying crunching sound as he investigates the bushes, the branches of which catch on the sleeves of his shirt leaving small pills in the fabric as they come loose. Mike notes this as particularly irritating. Somewhere around the third bush the sound seems to have reached a maximum volume. Mike carefully maneuvers himself to peer behind it to see exactly what such a sound could be emanating from.

It is a puppy.

Tiny, shuddering, whining and looking utterly pathetic is a puppy curled up in the safety between a brambly bush and the side of Mike’s house. Mike’s first thought is of his list. He frowns deeply at the puppy who in turn, faces Mike with wide puppy-eyes and whimpers. For a long moment they regard each other, studying and wondering. Mike is certain this is the most inconvenient thing that has happened to him in some years. This thought is furthered when he notes that the puppy’s left leg is bent at something of an unnatural angle. What is necessary becomes clear in an instant, and Mike, with a sigh, reaches for the little animal and lifts him up with a care natural to a man who has practice in caring for something, even if it is a motorbike.

It is a Tuesday morning, which is not a usual day for a ride, but Mike knows that occasionally, adjustments do have to be made. He takes a towel from the garage and carefully wraps the now silent but still shivering puppy up and places the little guy in the basket normally reserved for the weekly groceries. There is only one vet in town that he knows of, and with another plaintive sigh, he swings himself on to the Tomos, and he and the puppy ride off together towards the town.

The vet tells Mike a few things that he does not like.

1. It will cost some money to fix the puppy’s leg.
2. The local animal shelter does not exactly keep dogs for long, if you know what I mean.

Mike leaves with his wallet lighter, and a puppy that he is apparently going to bring home.

That evening he sits at his kitchen table and the puppy sits in front of him. Mike has learned that he is apparently a Pug. Mike wonders is this means he will always look sad.

“What do Pugs eat?” Mike asks the puppy, who merely stares back forlornly with his tongue hanging out.

Eventually, Mike settles on some slices of ham cut up to puppy size. He places them in a small bowl in front of the pug and waits and watches. The puppy sniffs the food, his little broken leg now done up in a bright white cast, gets slightly in the way. A moment passes, and then, the puppy launches himself into the meal with what could only be described as gusto. Mike smiles despite himself.

He would never tell anyone, but he allows the puppy to curl up at the end of his bed that night. He tells himself it is only because the puppy has an injury, that tomorrow he will find a more suitable owner, and that he does not even like dogs or people who own them.

Three weeks later, the puppy is still sleeping at the end of his bed. Mike has not even started to look for a suitable owner. He tells himself this is because he doesn’t like people, particularly people who own dogs.

On Wednesday mornings, if you are enjoying a pleasant jaunt around the lake just outside of town, you might catch sight of a man on a motorbike. You will probably find it charming that he rides with his little dog sitting in the basket that might normally be used for groceries. The man is probably smiling, though if he were to notice you watching, he might turn away. The dog, the dog will always look happy.