‘Pompom,’ called a shrill voice.
When did real dogs turn to toys? wondered Vince as he trudged through the mud, conspicuous as the only human without a dog. The dogs skittering around two women did not match the environment, what happened to Labradors and Rottweilers? As if in answer, a large muddy dog, originally yellow, bounced playfully out of the bushes only to find itself attacked by a tiny ball of white cotton wool.
‘Pompom, naughty boy, heel.’
The Labrador’s owner laughed, and so did Vince until the ball of fluff veered towards him, jumping up, growling to snap at his ankle.
‘If he was an American Pit Bull,’ said Vince gruffly, ‘you’d be in trouble with the police.’
The owner scooped up Pompom and marched away as if Vince had incited the attack.
The walking business, to avoid blood pressure tablets and type two diabetes, was proving to be worse than going to the gym. Vince’s life of crime had not involved exercise, he had had other people to do that for him. But he hated hospitals, so he had no alternative, but alternative therapy.
He paused to avoid a large puddle and looked up to see a young man pushing a three-wheeler cross country pram. Inside it was a miserable looking baby, but slung under the man’s arm was a baby sling with a fluffy white face poking cheerfully out.
‘It’s even muddier further along,’ said Vince, imagining with relish the pram getting stuck and baby falling out.
‘I know,’ said the man cheerfully. ‘We must be mad. Oh, you haven’t got a dog… this one’s getting on a bit so he can’t walk far.’
That was when Vince had his idea. Fluffy toys didn’t attack Vince the Mincer and get away with it.
On the internet that evening he looked up breeds of dogs, it turned out the mini monster cotton wool ball was actually a valuable breed. Vince looked up battery operated toys and ordered some ‘Fur Babies’ – barking, bouncing, battery operated toy dogs that looked remarkably realistic.
His daily two mile walks had a purpose now. Among the many mutant miniature wolves he encountered, Pompom was a regular, his owner had a strict routine, returning to the car park at the same time each day.
At the dog parlour he bought a National Trust green puppy sling.
Vince hid in the bushes, hoping no one would think he was a flasher. Did blokes do that anymore? he wondered, or was it all on the internet? In five minutes Pompom should pass that way, trying to avoid having the lead attached to his diamond-studded collar. For Pompom was a real dog at heart, who preferred puddles and fresh air to the pink Ka with its sticker ‘Precious Pet on Board.’
Some ancestral lupine instinct stirred in little Pompom as Vince waved the dripping fresh raw meat. Within seconds he was in the bushes, within seconds he was bound in the puppy sling and Vince was switching on the battery-operated Pompom doppelganger.
‘Pompom, here Pompom, Mummy’s got a treat for you.’
Vince remained motionless, one large hand clamped round Pompom’s tiny muzzle. He remained just long enough to see the toy dog trot obediently out of the bushes and the owner bend down to pick him up. Her scream attracted the attention of other dog walkers and Vince slipped away.
At home, Pompom was in an old rabbit cage and Vince was wondering if he should put the dog on eBay or if a ransom demand would yield more money; perhaps he could do both.
That night he taped a notice on the window of the little coffee kiosk in the car park.
FOUND – ADORABLE WHITE MINIATURE DOG.
IF YOU ARE THE FRANTIC OWNER – PLEASE PHONE THIS NUMBER…
© 2014 Janet Gogerty
Janet loves writing novels, short stories and blogging. Her favourite theme is how ordinary people cope when strange things happen to them.