He comes into my coffee shop five days a week.
It’s always the same order: double espresso with a wave of chocolate syrup on top. It’s always the same look: a button-down flannel with a white t-shirt under. Faded jeans. Sometimes he sits outside while he has his coffee. This morning he brought a dog.
On my break, I took a seat across from him at a table on the patio.
“Nice dog.” Me, opening the conversation.
“I found him at a pound when I was going through a bit of a time. He’s a mix.”
“And Boston Terrier.”
“He’s cute,” I said. Not quite true, but saying so seemed right.
He smiled. “Thanks anyway, but no, I’ve got eyes. I adopted him because the front desk at the pound told me he was the Veteran, with a capital V. Been there nearly four years, some kind of record. He was too small to put in a kennel with other dogs.”
“Lonely life,” I said.
“Yeah. I guess I felt something for the guy, because I’ve been there.”
“You lived in a cage at the pound?” I couldn’t resist.
“Well, in a way, felt like it, yeah.” He glanced away. There was something going on here.
I wished I hadn’t said that.
He finished his coffee. “Anyway, Boss, he—”
“Short for Boston?”
“Yeah, clever me. Boss, he started having seizures like six weeks later. I thought he’d choke on his tongue. The vet was no use. She couldn’t tell me what caused it and I didn’t know how to make it stop when it happened.”
“Helpless feeling,” I said.
“That lasted a couple of years. He was getting older, so it was hurting him more each time. I knew he had to be put down.”
“You didn’t want him to suffer. But what…” I said, gesturing. Boss was clearly very much in the world. He even looked happy.
“On our way to get it done, I took a wrong turn and went down a street I kind of recognized. I saw a church—one I vaguely recalled being inside once, attending a wedding. I’m sure I broke a rule but I took Boss in there and I just…” He stopped. We both looked down at Boss. “I never believed much in praying before that day.”
“What about the appointment?”
“Obviously, we never went. We went back home. He hasn’t had a seizure since.”
He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled something out with a smooth, practiced motion. Like he had done it a thousand times before. It was a printed photo. He slid it across the table. I picked it up.
A woman standing in a small kitchen, rolling raw dough. Simple polka dot dress, dark lipstick. Her hair up in a messy bun. She looked full of life. One hand covering half her face, like a child playing peekaboo. She was smiling, looking right at me. The sun through the window on her cheek.
“Sometimes a prayer goes right through,” he said. “Sometimes you pray for seven months and nobody hears it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah DeGeorge is an English graduate student at Western Kentucky University, concentrating in Rhetoric and Composition. She has been published in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal for her work in queer rhetoric. Sarah’s research and teaching interests include posthuman writing, Rogerian rhetoric, composition studies, Critical Pedagogy, and queer studies.