the short story project


G.G. Hamilton

Champagne de Pouillion

Cooper came home with a frozen scowl on his face. Snowflakes hung onto his hat and the sleeves of his jacket. He removed his gloves, wiped his arms, shook his hat and fixed his hair. He stomped his boots on the tiny, dirty entrance mat, which was now more of a decoration than a matt with actual utility. He removed his jacket and boots and let out a sigh. He walked into the living room to find Peter sprawled out on the couch, one arm dangling to the ground and the other holding up a book.
“Do you want to open the ‘Pouillion’?” said Cooper.
Peter dropped the book on his chest, “What?”
“Do you want to open the ‘Pouillion’?”
Peter rolled off the couch in a heap and looked up at Cooper, “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I had a rough day today and it’s the only thing in the fridge to drink.”
“So you want to drink the ‘Pouillion’?”
“Yeah. Is that alright?”
“Of course! It’s your ‘Pouillion’. I’d be happy to have it with you. I’m just shocked, is all. Are you sure you don’t want to save it?”
“Save it for what?”
“Nothing, I guess.”
Cooper went to the fridge and opened the doors.
“I was thinking about it on the subway,” he said, “I just had this craving to open it tonight. I’d never had this sort of craving before.”
“You’re becoming an alcoholic,” said Peter.
“Oh, shut up.”
Cooper withdrew the ‘Pouillion’ bottle from the fridge and placed it on the kitchen counter. He closed the fridge and opened the counter drawer.
“Do you know where the corkscrew is?” said Cooper.
“It should be in there,” said Peter, walking into the kitchen and lifting himself up on the counter. He picked up the bottle and examined it.
“Got it,” said Cooper, pulling out the corkscrew, “Should we order something to eat?”
Peter handed Cooper the bottle, “What were you thinking?”
“Pizza and wings?” Cooper dug the corkscrew into the bottle.
“With the ‘Pouillion’?”
Cooper removed the bottle’s cork, “Steak shawarma?”
Peter opened the cupboard above the counter and took down two champagne glasses, “That’s more like it,” Peter pulled out his cellphone, “I’ll put the order in now.”
Cooper poured into the two glasses, “You want some money for it?”
“No,” said Peter, “It’s on me.”
Cooper held out one of the filled champagne glasses. Peter dropped off the counter and took the glass from Cooper. They lifted their glasses and pushed them together with a vibrant clink.
The subway chimed and the doors closed. The dog still didn’t move. It was a massive dog, especially when compared to the size of its owner. The owner was a small women with a nice jacket. She stood by the doors of the subway car with the dog seated beside her. Even though the dog was seated, its head still reached the owner’s hips. Cooper wondered how she had gotten it onto the subway.
The dog was a pure and clean white, with thick and shiny fur. It was well behaved and didn’t move or bark when people walked by.
“What kind of dog is he?” Asked a man, bending down to pet the dog.
Cooper saw the owner say something in response, but the subway was too loud for Cooper to hear what she said.
“He’s a big boy,” said the man, “And a very good boy,” the man scratched behind the dog’s ears with both his hands. The dog let out its tongue, panting, and began to rise.
The owner hit the dog violently on its lower-back, and the dog returned to its seated position without making a sound.
The man petting the dog looked horrified.
“Don’t worry,” said the owner, she was talking louder now, “he’s fine. He can barely feel it under the fur.”
The man said nothing and got off the subway at the next stop.
Cooper stared at the owner. She was striking. She was wearing sunglasses even though the subway was underlit, and her lipstick was a bright blue. She also wore a white beret. The owner turned her head towards Cooper, and unsure if she was looking at him or not, Cooper turned his head away.
Everyone else on the subway was staring at the dog. They were whispering to each other and smiling. Someone pulled out their phone and started recording the dog.
Cooper took another look. It was a beautiful dog: very big, very white, and very obedient.
“Do you want to get a dog?” Cooper asked.
Peter looked up from his book, “A dog? Like, a dog dog?”
“Yeah,” Cooper took a sip from his champagne glass.
“Not really,” Peter went back to his book.
“Why not?”
“Because dogs are hard to take care of.”
“It wouldn’t be that hard.”
“Yeah, it would.”
Cooper put his glass down on the dining table, “Agree to disagree.”
There was a knock at the door.
Peter put down his book, “Must be the shawarmas. I’ll get it.”
“I’ll get ready then,” Cooper went to the washroom.
In the washroom, Cooper heard Peter talking to a girl outside. She had a familiar voice. Cooper tried to hear what they were saying, but the voices went silent as he heard the front door close.
Cooper was washing his hands when he heard the door open again.
When Cooper came out of the washroom, Peter was sitting on the couch with his champagne glass on the floor beside him, reading his book.
“No shawarmas?” said Cooper.
“Nope,” said Peter.
“Who was at the door then?”
“Umm… Some guy who had the wrong house.”
“Some guy? It sounded like a girl.”
“Yeah, my bad, some girl who had the wrong house.”
“The wrong house?” Cooper took a seat in a dining chair across from Peter.
“Yeah, like, she was looking for some house, and confused our house with a different house.”
“That’s weird.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Cooper stared at Peter, but he wouldn’t look away from his book.
“Why do you want to get a dog all of the sudden?” said Peter.
“Oh,” said Cooper, “I don’t know if I actually want one. I just saw this really beautiful dog on the subway today.”
“What kind of dog was it?”
“I don’t know. It was big and white.”
“Like a Pomeranian?”
“What? I don’t think so. Aren’t those dogs really small?”
“Then no. I just said the dog was big.”
“Oh,” said Peter, “sorry, I didn’t hear that.”
Cooper laughed.
There was another knock at the door. Peter put down his book. Cooper stood up.
“I got it,” said Cooper, “Finish whatever you’re reading.”
Cooper opened the door. There was a girl standing on the porch with a brown paper bag, stained with grease.
“Peter?” she said.
“That’s me,” said Cooper.
“Here you are,” she handed the bag to Cooper.
The girl nodded and walked off the porch.
“Wait,” said Cooper.
The girl turned around.
“Don’t I need to pay you?”
The girl gave Cooper a look, “You already paid, through the app.”
“Oh, right. I forgot.”
The girl breathed out her nose.
“Let me at least give you a tip,” Cooper walked down the porch in his socks, walking on the salt and snow that covered the steps. He pulled his wallet from his back pocket and took out a five dollar bill.
“Here,” said Cooper.
The girl laughed, “Thanks.”
“Do you have a dog?”
The girl looked confused, “No… I’m more of a cat person.”
Cooper laughed, “Figures,” he paused, “Could I have your number?”
The girl gave Cooper a look, “Seriously?”
“Nope, never mind. Have a good night!”
The girl shook her head, “You too.”
Cooper went back inside and took off his wet socks. He brought the brown paper bag to the dining table and opened it. He was hit by the smells of grilled food. Inside were two steak shawarmas, wrapped in aluminum foil, a Styrofoam container (probably with rice inside), small containers holding red, white and green sauces, and a handful of brown paper napkins that were already stained with grease. He could feel his mouth beginning to salivate. He emptied the bag.
Cooper removed the aluminum foil from one of the shawarmas and grabbed a container of white sauce.
“Peter,” he said, “the girl you were talking to—”
“Is this the dog you were talking about?” Peter held his phone towards Cooper. Cooper walked to the couch so he could see the picture better. The dog in the picture was big and white.
“Yeah,” said Cooper, “that’s it.”
Peter put his phone down, “A Samoyed,” he said, “Now, let’s eat!”
Peter stood up and knocked over his champagne glass with his foot. The glass shattered and his drink spilled on the floor.
“Shit!” said Peter.
“Here,” said Cooper, throwing the greasy napkins at Peter’s feet.
“Thanks,” Peter used the napkins to soak up the spill, “Could you grab me the broom?”
Cooper took a step to the kitchen.
“Wait!” said Peter, “Don’t move! You’re going to cut your foot. I thought you had socks on?” Peter took a couple large steps toward the kitchen and grabbed the broom and dustpan.
“I did have socks on,” said Cooper, “I got them wet when I was trying to tip the delivery girl.”
“How’d you get your socks wet tipping the delivery girl?”
“She left without a tip, so I followed her off the porch.”
Peter laughed, “That’s probably because I had already tipped her.”
Peter swept around Cooper’s feet and the dining table, “I think you’re good to move now.”
“Great,” Cooper sat down at the dining table and watched Peter sweep around the couch.
“Sorry about this,” said Peter.
“You don’t have to apologize,” said Cooper, “You’re the one who bought the glasses.”
“I don’t care about the glass,” said Peter, “I spilled your ‘Pouillion’.”
“Don’t worry about it. We still have half the bottle,” Cooper looked at the bottle, which was still on the kitchen counter, “Here, let me get you another glass.”
Cooper went to the kitchen and grabbed a glass from the cupboard. He picked up the ‘Pouillion’ bottle, filled the glass and went back to the dining table.
Cooper looked over at Peter: he was bent over, with his back to Cooper, sweeping glass into the dustpan. Cooper could see the small of his back and the tag of his bleached blue underpants.
“Hey,” said Cooper, “Who was at the door earlier?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *