Rich walks a Poodle in the park. Two other ‘Oodles’ – a Cavoodle and a Moodle, perhaps, but it could be a Bichon Frise, it’s hard to tell sometimes – head his way, their owners, Samantha and Lucy, talking loudly.
‘What sort of sicko goes around poisoning dogs?’
‘I’m not letting Trixie out of my sight until they’ve caught the bastard.’
‘That’s how I like my bitches. Leashed.’
‘Pardon? Why, what have you done? You naughty girl!’
‘What did you say?’
‘I said pardon. What you said.’
‘No. Before that.’
‘Whoa! Easy tigresses!’
Trixie, excited, jumps at Rich’s Poodle.
‘Ruby! Stop it!’
‘Should be muzzled. The lot of you!’
‘What did you say?’
‘It means ‘good luck’, in Jewish.’
‘You don’t look Jewish.’
‘You don’t look shrewish.’
‘Oh, come on, Luce. We shouldn’t be wasting our time with this loser.’
‘I’m not a loser. I’m a winner. And I’ve got a medal to prove it. See!’ Rich digs out a plastic medal from around his neck. Lucy can’t help but laugh.
‘O-kay! What’s that for then? What are you a ‘winner’ in?’
The girls groan.
‘I’ve just met you two, haven’t I? I’d call that winning any day.’
‘Go to charm school. And don’t come back.’
The girls begin to walk away.
‘Come on Ruby.’
‘Come on Trixie.’
‘Don’t go. We’re just getting acquainted–‘
Lucy stares at Rich’s Poodle. ‘Hang on! Isn’t that Mr Darcy?’
‘It is! That’s Debbie’s dog.’
‘What are you doing with Debbie’s dog?’
‘I’m stealing it. What do you think I’m doing with it?’ Rich looks down at Mr Darcy. ‘Not really, Mr. D, don’t look so worried.’
‘Oh God! Quick Luce! Call the cops.’
‘Whoa sisters! Not so fast,’ says Rich, just as a priest, carrying a bag, passes by.
The priest stops. ‘Is there a problem here?’
‘This sick pervert is stealing Mr. Darcy, our friend’s dog.’
‘Is that right, son? That’s not very Christian.’
‘No, of course I’m not. There’s been a misunderstanding. I’m dogsitting.’
‘Dognapping more like. Let Mr. Darcy go. Or else.’
‘Or else what? Don’t threaten me lady. I’ve just about had enough of your alpha female aggression–’
‘I’d stay away from these two, Father. Radical feminists. Probably atheists too. Definitely lesbians.’
‘Just because we’re immune to your shit chat-up lines doesn’t give you the right to insult us.’
‘Luce, calling us lesbians or feminists or atheists isn’t insulting us. I’ve been all of them at one time or another.’
‘I’m insulted by him calling me an alpha female aggressor!’
‘Why? Don’t you consider yourself an alpha female?’
‘Anyway, you started it. Accusing me of stealing Mr D. I’m innocent.’
Mr. Darcy, sniffing eagerly, attacks the priest’s bag. Rich yanks him away.
‘That’s okay. I’m a dog person myself,’ says the priest, squatting down to pat Mr D.
‘A dog whisperer!’
‘Actually, they call me…the Dog Father.’
All three dogs spring at the priest, knocking him over. They pounce on the bag.
The priest scrambles to his feet. ‘Little bastards!’
‘Lively little lovelies!’
Samantha turns to Rich. ‘Where’s Debbie?’
The priest snatches his bag.
‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘You do know there’s a dog poisoner about.’
The priest begins to slope away.
‘That’s why we’re not letting Trixie and Ruby off their leashes.’
Samantha and Lucy stare at the priest. ‘Oh my God! You’re the dog poisoner!’
‘What form has this dog poisoning been taking?’
‘Filled with slug pellets!’
‘They’ve been left all over the park!’
‘I don’t suppose you know anything about this dog poisoner, do you, Father?’
‘Then you won’t mind if we take a little look inside your bag?’
‘Young man. You can’t go around making accusations–‘
‘Why not? These two have accused me of being a loser, a sick pervert and a dognapper. All in the last five minutes!’
‘Which church do you attend to, Father?’
‘I haven’t seen you around here before.’
‘Er, no. You haven’t. I’m just…visiting.’
‘That’s none of your concern. And I resent the fact that you’re accusing a man of the cloth–‘
‘Hold Trixie, Sam.’ Lucy snatches the bag from the priest.
‘I bet you two a night out there are dodgy sausages in there.’
Lucy opens the bag. The priest runs off. Lucy pulls out a sausage. ‘How did you know?’
‘Debbie’s food poisoning. She found a bag of sausages under some bushes, luckily before Mr D here got to them. She took them home and…well, she’s in hospital having her stomach pumped.’
‘Why on earth would she take home some sausages she found on the ground?’
‘She said she’s been struggling to make ends meet since she got laid off.’
‘I didn’t think things were that bad!’
‘How come she didn’t give any sausages to Mr Darcy? She always feeds him what she’s having.’
They all look down at Mr Darcy. He stares back, cocking his head at an angle.
‘He’s a lot smarter than he looks, I guess.’
‘I can’t believe a priest could be a dog poisoner. He even called himself the Dog Father!’
‘He wasn’t a real priest. And I think his self-styled soubriquet was just a sick joke. An attempt to throw us off the scent.’
‘At least we know who the sicko is now. We should go after him.’
‘He’s had too much of a head start.’
‘I guess we owe you an apology.’
‘We were a bit rude to you earlier.’
‘I’m used to it. I’m aware that my Romeo routine remains a bit rough.’
‘I don’t recall Debbie mentioning you before. How long have you known each other?’
‘We met on a blind date. Didn’t really go well. The only things we had in common were a love of dogs and sausages. Although I think I’ve gone off them now. Sausages, that is. Don’t look so worried, Mr D.’
‘But she must have liked you enough to call you for help? Mr Darcy means everything to her! Poor Debbie. All she’s ever wanted is to meet Mr Right. She’s ever such a romantic.’
‘Maybe we should take you out. You did bet us there were sausages in that bag, after all…’
‘Really? You two want to take me out? I thought you thought I was a dick.’
‘What is your name, anyway?’
‘Richard. But I prefer Rich over Dick. Rich like my women. You don’t happen to be rich, either of you?’
‘We’re really going to have to work on your chat-up lines.’
‘You sound like you’re grooming me for something…’
‘Better a grooming than a napping. Or a poisoning!’
‘Relax. We’ll smooth your rough edges and turn you into a prize prince, for Debbie!’
‘Why are you doing this for me?’
‘Are you kidding? You’ve just saved all our dogs. You’re a hero!’
‘And heroes are winners, right?’
Samantha and Lucy walk ahead. Rich fishes a sausage out of his pocket and tosses it on the ground. ‘Don’t you just hate a copycat,’ he says.
©Warren Paul Glover
About the Author: Warren Paul Glover is a British-Australian writer and actor, living in Sydney. He studied creative writing and screenwriting at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and playwriting at the Griffin Theatre Company, Sydney. His plays have been performed in Australia, the UK, and the United States. Warren’s poetry has been published in The Sea Letter (USA), Tuck Magazine (USA), Sentinel Literary Quarterly (UK), Cats With Thumbs (Australia), and Scryptic (USA), as well as being broadcast on radio in Scotland and audio podcast by Bamalam Productions (UK). In 2016, Warren’s poem. ‘The Goats Dented the Car’, was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize.