Another Brownie story… dedicated in memory of a special and beloved dog.
Liam woke up to the sound of the outer kitchen door banging. It took him a minute to orient himself to his surroundings. His mother had sweet-talked him into home-sitting their old house in Queens to tend to the plants, the cats, and the parakeets.
So, for the whole month that she vacations in Florida, her son was ordered (or persuaded, as she said) to abandon his swank condo in Manhattan and to commute from his job as a successful surgeon in the city.
If only his residents could see him now. His reputation as a tough task-master would definitely suffer. His gruff talk usually caused his surgical residents to buckle and fumble, and he took great delight in it. But he could not say “No” to his dear old mama.
As luck would have it, the blizzard came and blanketed the city in 2 feet of snow. His body ached from shoveling the snow on his mom’s front yard, as well as the adjoining neighbor’s house, as per her mom’s latest phone text. He had expected his neighbor’s thank you but had not seen anybody in their house as yet.
And to top it all, a lady jogger who was crossing the streets almost got side-swiped by his car just a block from his mom’s house. He had right of way, so of course, he yelled at the jaywalker, and she promptly gave her a middle-finger. She also cursed Liam out in whatever language it was.
Liam got a glimpse of the woman, and found her attractive enough despite her sore attitude. Her almond-shaped dark brown eyes flashed in anger, and her brown, smooth skin glistened from the sweat. Her expressive face captivated him. A spunky woman; too bad all his previous girlfriends were too subservient to his wishes. Too bad he was a confirmed bachelor.
A muffled sound brought him back to the present. Liam went into full survival mode and ran to the kitchen door. Through the kitchen window, Liam saw tiny footprints leading away from the house.
Armed with a bat, Liam gingerly followed the footprints to the side of the house, then saw a medium-sized dog making the tiny foot prints on the snow as it chased a boy rolling on the thick snow .
“Stop! What are you doing here?” Liam shouted, startling the little boy.
His brown eyes wide with fear, the boy ran ahead and grabbed a slat from the wooden fence that separated his mother’s property from the neighbor’s. It looked like that was to be his escape hatch.
Liam was out in the yard when the dog growled at him, in full protection mode for its owner. The dog’s brown fur gleamed in the sunlight, but it didn’t look cuddly at all as it glared at Liam, its tail raised and its teeth bared in warning. It looked like a beagle mix but it sounded like a ferocious Rotweiler.
The boy was already halfway through the fence opening and turned around to call his dog to safety, “Hurry, Brownie.”
Seeing its master almost safely out through the escape hatch, the dog snorted at Liam, and dramatically paused to make sure that Liam was looking, then boldly (and defiantly?) pooped a “big one” on the white snow.
The boy started to chuckle at his dog’s audacity, but stopped when he saw Liam’s astounded face. “Mister, so sorry. Brownie never pooped in here before!”
Liam cocked an eyebrow. “Never? Before?”
The boy swallowed his tears and bravely said, “Mrs. O’Donnell always let me come to this yard to play. Our yard is smaller because my mom has her garden.” He patted his dog’s brown fur.
“And Brownie only poops in our yard,” he said by way of explanation, in an attempt to mollify the man before him.
“Mrs. O’Donnell is my mother,” Liam tried to sound stern, but there was something about the boy and his dog that made him smile. Except the poop.
The boy visibly relaxed when he saw that Liam was trying to hide a smile. He must have decided that Liam is trustworthy, because he eased himself back to Liam’s yard and seemed ready to engage his new friend in a conversation. He called himself “Jun-jun”.
Jun-jun turned out to be a chatterbox. His animated face and gestures amused Liam. The boy’s features hinted of a mixed parentage; maybe of Asian and white heritage, but his beautiful brown eyes looked strangely familiar. He lived with his mother Kim and grandmother Delia who actually went with Mrs. O’Donnell in Florida. Since he was only five years old, he was scheduled to enter school next September.
“You know, I’m very smart. Just like my mom. She’s a nurse. She takes care of people with sick hearts and broken arms. She’s the bestest nurse and the bestest mom in the whole wide world.” The boy’s face lit up as he spoke.
“Really, that’s interesting, Jun-jun. I’m a doctor, too. I operate on people.”
“O-op-rate? My mom told me that some doctors are not nice. Especially those who o-op-rate.”
Liam smiled. “I think I am an exception.” He thought that if the mom is an ER nurse, she’s probably one of those feisty nurses who fight with surgeons.
“My dad left us so it’s just me, Mom, and grandma. Brownie’s smart, too. Just like me.” The boy’s words rolled over, as if he was in a hurry to impress his new friend.
“He’s so smart that this Brownie chose to poop here instead of in your yard?”
Brownie barked when he heard his name. When Liam pointed to his poop, the dog averted his brown eyes and walked slowly back to the fence opening. The dog’s down-trodden face looked so comical that Liam couldn’t help, but laugh out heartily.
The dog sensed that Liam would not be wielding the bat anymore, so he sidled over to Liam’s side and nuzzled his new friend with his nose, as if apologizing for the offending poop. Brownie’s face shone in the sunlight and his mouth was open in a wide grin.
From inside the other house, they heard a woman calling for Jun-jun.
“Mister, please don’t tell my mom that I.. twespassed. She thought I was just letting Brownie out for his morning poop.” Jun-jun waited until Liam nodded in agreement.
Both boy and dog went through the opening, as they must have done countless of times before. Jun-jun put back the wood in place, almost hitting Liam on his face.
Through a little hole in the fence, Liam saw the mother for the first time. She had beautiful brown almond-shaped eyes, a cute pert nose and golden skin.
She was lovely. She was the one who flipped him the middle finger.