Roger sat in his recliner chair overlooking the garden, thinking back on his life. He hadn’t done anything extraordinary, but overall he had enjoyed it. Well he had, until his wife had left him six months ago, for a younger man. It had come as a complete surprise to Roger when she suddenly announced over dinner that she was leaving the next day. Why hadn’t he seen it coming?
He blamed himself. Angie was a very attractive woman, and had kept her figure, even after having four children. Since the children had one by one got married and left the nest, Angie had been bored and had got herself a part time job in hospital records. Roger didn’t mind. He thought it would be a good idea for Angie to have other interests, just so long as she was there when he came home from work. But even having a part time job didn’t seem to satisfy Angie, and she had joined the local sports club, where she seemed to spend an uncommon amount of time. It was there that she had met the man she ran away with.
As Roger sat musing over his life, wondering what to do with his remaining years alone, he remembered back to the good old days before he was married. What did he do with himself in those days? He had been married for so long, he had almost forgotten what it was like to be free and single, but he remembered that he had been happy. What were his hobbies in the old days? Maybe he could start doing them again. Did he really have any hobbies? He couldn’t remember. He had a dog. He remembered most of his time was spent with his old faithful Alsation. Max and he used to go for long walks in the countryside around his home when he was a teenager. He couldn’t really remember doing much else. Maybe he should get another dog. Maybe he should start living again.
Roger turned on his laptop. It was ages since he had last bothered looking at his emails, so there were many, mostly silly joke emails, which he quickly deleted. Then he came to an email from an on-line dating site he had signed up for ages ago after Angie had first left. He hadn’t had much luck finding anyone appealing, and most of the women on the site seemed to be out for casual relationships, or just wanted a chat. He hadn’t bothered going back on the site. But now, someone wanted to meet him, according to the email. “Oh well, no harm just having a look,” he thought.
Surprisingly, the lady who apparently wanted to meet him was quite attractive. Roger had lost his looks, along with his hair and a lot of his teeth, so never expected an attractive lady to find him remotely interesting. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” thought Roger, as he typed out a message to send the lady. It wasn’t long before he got a reply. “Annabel” was quite interesting, and wrote a lot. She seemingly led an independent life, living alone with her dog, but also had a full social life. Roger wondered why she should be interested in him. He wrote back, trying to make his mundane life sound interesting. He told Annabel that he was going to buy a dog as soon as he could find one. Annabel quickly wrote back to him telling him about a dog she knew that needed re-homing, as his owners were moving to a flat abroad, and couldn’t take their dog with them. It was a German Shepherd. Roger immediately wrote back to say he would definitely be interested, and asked when could he meet the dog.
“Well, you could come and meet him and meet me at the same time,” replied Annabel. “We walk our dogs together sometimes.”
Roger’s life was looking up, he thought, as he arranged to join them on their walk the next day. He sat back again in his recliner chair, thinking about Max, the dog he’d had all those years ago.
Max and he had been inseparable. As a toddler, Max had given him rides on his back around his uncle’s orchard, where he spent many happy years later scrumping. The years flew away as he remembered climbing the rocky hill at the top of their road with Max. It was always summer in those days, or so it seemed. They would wade through the stream tumbling down the hill and climb up as far as the beacon and back. They would be gone for hours. Once or twice his mother got worried about him, but his dad knew that they would be alright together. “Max would look after him,” he’d say.
And Max did look after him. Roger remembered the day when the local thugs started taunting him. Roger wasn’t one for going around in gangs, and hadn’t really got many friends. His friend was Max. But that particular day he had been in town with Max when the group of thugs had started calling him a “yellow belly” because he wouldn’t go out with one of the girls in the gang that apparently fancied him. He had tried to ignore them, but the gang leader had grabbed his arm and started to threaten him. Max immediately jumped up at the lout, growling. He was not going to have his master threatened. The lout had backed off instinctively.
As it happened, Roger did actually go out with the girl that fancied him. That was Angie.
Max had lived to be sixteen, and by then Roger had been going out with Angie for a year or so. After Max died, it wasn’t very long before Roger had married Angie, having got her pregnant, and after that Angie had never wanted a dog. She never really took to Max, but by the time she had come into Roger’s life he was an old dog, and didn’t want to walk far. Roger never realised that Angie wouldn’t want to share him with another dog after Max died, until he suggested getting a puppy one day. Angie said it was out of the question to have a dog when there would be a baby in the house. She never changed her mind.
Roger was really looking forward to the next day. Even if it did not work out between Annabel and him, he was looking forward to meeting the dog, Harvey.
As Roger was sitting on the park bench the next day, he spotted two women walking two dogs, a black Labrador and a German Shepherd. This must be them, he thought, as he arose and walked towards them. “Annabel?” he asked, stupidly. Of course it was Annabel. He had seen her photo on the dating site, hadn’t he? Why did he suddenly feel like a silly schoolboy again? “And this must be Harvey?”
“Of course,” laughed Annabel. “Hi, Roger, nice to meet you. I get the feeling that you and Harvey are going to be good friends. Maybe Harvey and my dog, Caesar, can continue to walk together after all.”
Roger could not believe his luck. Life was looking good again.
Amazing the things that prompt a story. Just two very short on-line conversations with two different men prompted this one!