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A Dog's Dinner

A Dog's Dinner

Written by: Ben Allen (Politics, 2011)

I felt awful. Sodden, heavy from exhaustion I took one brief, shameful, look in the mirror then buried my face under the icy tap. Stretching, I grabbed a towel and tried to wring out the tired from my eyes. It would all be over soon. The dogs will be gone and this filthy hangover will disappear with the others. Throwing on yesterday's t-shirt and last month's trousers, I meandered into the kitchen. The kettle rumbled to action and I poured a coffee to salute the morning. I thought about Cassie, my flatmate.  

"This is the final straw. It finishes today!" I voiced to no one. 

Cassie's haphazard approach to charity and generally solving all the world's problems had gone too far this time. A month ago she went on a trip to Korea to eat kimchi and write an essay on the terrible conditions of dogs bred for consumption. Often things went too far with Cassie; So, when she returned with 15 hideous dogs of no discernible breed, who were rescued to be found new loving homes, I knew I would get roped into helping. 

Cassie was a real force and there was little that could get in her way. Our relationship had always stumbled blindly back and forth over the blurred frontiers of friendship and romance, yet it invariably went to bed in the friendzone. She was adorable, yet untamable. And, with that in mind I would do anything for her. In essence, she was the tail that wagged the dog. Namely, me.  

I carried on talking to the only person I could reason with, myself. "I've had enough, it's been a week! Why am I illegally harboring a rugby team's worth of worthless of Korean dogs? Even if they were to be given new homes, they're wild. English dogs won't understand them." 

As I pondered the likelihood of language barriers between dogs, I brought the kettle back to life and stole some of Cassie's coffee. Although I was her lapdog I ensured I received my little secret payments of gratitude: 'borrowing' her finer coffee, milk and toothbrush were some of the small bonuses I paid out to myself.  

"Besides, there's only two days left of the holidays," I continued, "We have to find owners -''

"I have news to soothe your concern, poppet," Cassie interjected, beaming. After kissing my cheek and un-stealing her stolen coffee, she took my seat in a twirl of skirt and skin. Her rosiness unsettled me.  

And, I heard you before, don’t be stupid: dogs all speak dog language.

I evaded her opinion. "Whats the good news then?"

"A lady, Kim, found my ad and is willing to take the dogs, today! In a few hours they will be gone. Just you and me. I'll make you dinner, nurse you through this hangover."

The future did sound promising. I belatedly enforced my disdain.

"This must stop! they kept me up again last night. If the University gets wind of this we'll both be screwed! I can already see the student paper headlines. 'Lefty Zealot and the 15 Korean Dogs in Cripps Halls'."

"Hmmm, we could be heroes," Cassie dreamed, swirling her coffee, "But there's one more thing. Kim can only make it at 4pm today. I can't. I need you to let her in and make sure she loads up the dogs ok. OKAY?"

I deflated; without looking at her I pleaded. "No more, please... That's it though, right?: Wait for 'Kim', swap the dogs, dinner and wine supplied by you?"

"That's it. Here's her number." She etched it onto my hand with a Bic. 

"Kim Young. She seems nice, we spoke on the phone. Anyway, gotta dash, stop drinking my coffee. See-ya!" She waltzed merrily out the kitchen. 

I made more of her coffee, then fell asleep at the table. 

The buzzer woke me with a start. Four on the dot. I tried to fix my irremediable appearance, gave up, and opened the door to a very business-like Asian woman.

"You must be Kim?" I ventured.

"And you can't be Cassie?" she acknowledged. She looked me up and down, or at least started to, she seemed to give up halfway through the process. 

"No, no. Im Arthur. We take equal responsibility of the dogs, Cass is busy."  

"Where are the kennels?" 

These are the kennels. University accommodation, there's no better...

My joke was lost on her. 

"Erm, yeah. I'll get my shoes on, give you a hand," I offered.

"No need for your help," she said.

Behind her two men emerged, nodding their confirmation that they were indeed the help. They certainly looked like dog carers, they had leads. They looked useful. "We will take it from here," she insisted.

The rest of the dialogue was nondescript, a flurry to the finish line. Hungover small talk that disappears down memory's plug-hole. They finished their task with consummate ease and efficiency, leaving me and my hangover in peace. Kim left her business card, which I pocketed, and bid me farewell.

It was all over! Within hours I was purring. From disaster, a dreamy Sunday hangover had emerged: watching nonsense on TV, fed and watered, with Cassie on the sofa. Curled together. Two kittens in a basket.

"Thanks soooo much! You did so well."

In hindsight, I claimed, "my pleasure. Ohhh, here's her business card."

Maintaining my embrace with Cassie, I pulled the card from my pocket and handed it over. Time passed.

"Su-Yeong Kim... Traditional.. Korean... Catering... Supplies. Oh Arthur...what have we done!?"

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