Think I can't make a story about an old man, a puppy, a cucumber, a wrench and a rainbow miserable and dark Potter? Well here you go:
The old man gave a slight cough as he limped from his bed over to the door where Skippy, now his puppy, scratched anxiously at the wood. With a slight ache from his bones the old man twisted open the door and Skippy raced out onto the second floor landing. With his blonde tail thumping against the old red carpet and his eyes pleading for the old man to hurry Skippy waited at the top of the stairs to be leashed for the outdoors. The old man couldn’t see in the dawn-light but he was sure of his steps. He had painted 40 years of his life onto the peeling walls and snuggled a few extra memories of when his grandfather had lived there beneath the floorboards of the den. Skippy tipped his head as cutely as possible with a slight whimper in the hopes that he might tap some hidden reservoir of haste forgotten in the old man’s quadriceps.
“Oh hang on old boy.” The old man said, taking Skippy’s leash from the railing and into his hands. The railing was clutter with the junk that simply had no other home: a snow globe, a box of tools, a few old birthday cards and pile of paper that the old man could not recal the contents of. “I’ll have you out in a jiffy, but once you see the rain I’ll have to drag you out into the yard.” Skippy merely tipped his head the other way in response and continued to pound a dent into the carpet. The old man huffed as he bent down to wrap the bright red leash around Skippy’s neck. Skippy turned his head as soon as he saw the almost incandescent nylon descend towards him. “Now you listen dog. I will not have you pee in the house, so get this on.” the old man said as he tried to leash Skippy again. Skippy gave a wicked grin, if he could have grinned that is, and dashed down the stairs.
The old man huffed in defeat. Another week of taking care of his son’s dog just might finish what smoking 20 years had started. He placed both hands on the narrow banisters and began his descent into the house’s gullet. As he swayed down the stairs the old man heard the silence punctured with sharp creaks and pops. He wasn’t certain how many came from him and how many he could say were from the antique wood not that either was a particularly good sign. He wrapped his hand around the bulbous end of the banister and shuffled to the door where Skippy had resumed his rhythm.
“Look this is your last chance Skippy, if you don’t put the leash on I am make you sleep outside. Got it?” Skippy tipped his head for the third time and responded with something resembling a snort. The old man wasn’t fluent in skippese but if he were he would have understood that to be an affirmative answer. The old man crept, with a creak, towards Skippy as a lioness might stalk a tasty-looking gazelle. Skippy’s tail fell suddenly still as he dropped into a pounce. The old man knew the master-puppy dance well for he had learned its quick steps over the course of 3 dogs’ lifetimes and, if his body would obey him this once, he was confident he could capture his canine companion. Skippy blinked first and lunged left, his paws slipping on the smooth hardwood.
The old man’s hand was dead on and he scooped up Skippy in a singular swing that brought the yellow lab close enough to lick his face as the leash finally found its mark. The old man let out a sigh and opened the door. Skippy blurred as he ran out the door and onto the first patch of grass outside the front door which was, of course, the vegetable garden. The old man stood at the edge of the door letting the leash hang as far forward as possible. Skippy lifted his leg and took a sniff of the various leaves and vines. The old man was unsure how any smell could cut across the pelting rain’s slick scent but Skippy seemed intent on something. Skippy had found something he liked amongst the greenery, not that the old man had any idea what had survived almost six full years of neglect.
Skippy proudly marched back inside a minute later with a cucumber placed firmly between his powerful jaws. “Um. . .ok.” the old man said as Skippy paused to shake himself off on the front step before prancing across the threshold. The old man turned, dumbfounded as the puppy took the cucumber around the corner and began to chew vigorously. He had lived long enough to have seen many, many odd things, but this was something new indeed. “Want me to get you a bone?” he asked as he peeked around the corner at Skippy who continued to chomp at the vegetable he had propped up between his paws.
The old man had never seen a dog so intent on devouring something other than a steak or a shoe, perhaps there was something wrong with this one. The old man shut his door on the relentless rain and walked over to Skippy to remove the long leash still connecting them. Skippy gave the old man a momentary lick as the leash slid off before returning to chewing the J shaped cucumber. The old man left Skippy to his chewing and mounted the stairs again. Skippy, upon noticing the lack of old man, abandoned the cucumber and bolted to the stairs. The old man could barely get up the stairs as Skippy was constantly underfoot. The game would be a mere annoyance to someone with good balance, to the old man it was as if he were climb a hill riddled with little yelping landmines.
After a lifetime of arduous labor the old man found himself on the top step and Skippy already on the top floor ahead of him. The old man called upon his knotted leg muscles to again propel him to the comforts of a nice warm bed. Skippy caught sight of a rat scurrying from one crack in the dry wall to another. “No!” The old man shouted sternly as he gingerly stepped forward. Skippy didn’t hear the old man at all and blurred after the rodent as ducked it back into the crumbling corner. Skippy snapped his jaws towards the rat but the corner itself shielded the pest from harm. Skippy give a slight whimper as he turned to flank slammed hard into the railing. Better, the old man thought, it was his flank that he crashed with rather than his nose. There was a sudden crack as the snow globe the old man’s son had mailed back from Paris struck the floor and shattered. Skippy yelped in surprise and ran, barking the whole way, back to the old man, running directly where the old man had intended to place his foot. The old man shifted his weight to avoid crushing Skippy, leaning heavily on the old banister. He heard another crack between Skippy’s barks as the wormy wood of the banister pulled away from its screws and sent him falling down to the start of the stairs.
Everything smelled pink except for Skippy’s sticky barks. The old man could hear something slick and warm drip down his back and feel the tool box above him totter. He must have fallen 6 feet, surely at least one bone was fuzzy. “Get up!” Skippy yelped, “Get up or its gonna hit you.”
“I am wine.” answered the old man, “sweet red wine. I just need to find my cork.”
“Oh no!” Skippy yelled as the box finally tipped over and threw its contents into the air before it, suddenly transmuting tools to projectiles.
“Oh it’s your cucumber” the old man laughed when his ears caught sight of the tools.
“It’s a wrench!” Skippy barked, “Move old man, move”
The old man couldn’t move, even if he could have he might have used his tongue to try to stand and his eyelash to dial the phone for help. The rusted lock on the old man’s door gave a slight jiggle just before the wrench hit. The old man’s son must have come to get the dog; he didn’t get visitors other than his son. The wrench meant something, the old man was sure, he was just too drowsy for it come to him right away . . .
“Of course.” He thought as the memory hit him. That wrench had been the wrench he had used to turn the driveway and street into an ice rink back when his son had only been ten.
“Is this legal?” His son asked as the middle aged man turned the screw of the fire hydrant again.
“Good question.” The middle aged man answered as he yanked the wrench again.
Suddenly the air was flooded with a blast of cool water that sprayed rainbows in every direction. The middle aged man waited until the water had covered the street and the driveway completely before wrenching the hydrant closed again. The cold January air crystallized the rink in the moments it took for the middle aged man and his son to don skates.
The two clicked out into the center and began to skate along the ice. They danced over the ice for an eternity. Skippy suddenly skid across the ice and clacked his way over to the father and son.
“Oh Dad it’s a puppy, I always wanted a puppy. Can I get a puppy?” His son squealed.
“Maybe when you grow up you can.” the middle aged man answered, “Maybe when you grow up.”
“Ok.” His son answered turning to face him, “When I grow up.”
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