They met on a clear fall morning.
He was in a hurry to get to work, scolding himself for forgetting his phone there.
She was on her morning run, sweat pouring down her back and from beneath her breasts; music filling her mind. The park was bright but almost empty. Just the two of them, and an occasional runner, dog walker, postman.
“Excuse me, miss?” he approached her, his breathing heavy from interrupted jogs.
She didn’t hear him but saw that he was coming closer, looking at her intently. Stopping, she pulled a headphone out and smiled.
“Yes?” Her breathing was fast-paced, rhythmic.
“Do you know the time?” he smiled, aware of how weird he must seem to her. A man, dressed in a dog costume, with disproportionately large head under his arm.
She checked a multi-purpose gadget on her writs. It tells her how fast she is running, how far she ran, her heartbeat, and of course, the time.
“It’s five to eight.”
“Oh, man.” He bit his lower lipm mad at himself. “That’s it. I’ll lose the job now, for sure.”
Her eyebrows raised.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you want some water? It must be a million degrees under that thing.”
He looked at her. Her short hair was in an awkward pony-tail, it reminded him of those dogs with their tails cut off. A single strand was hanging loosely across her left eye. Her breasts were moving up and down while she tried to steady her breath; the shirt under them was soaked. He glanced at her entire body. It was curvy, her skin firm and clean. He smiled.
She was holding out a bottle of water, looking at him expectantly.
“Oh. Thanks.” He drank almost all of it. She found that amusing, but he apologized, and yet, drank what was left. She returned the bottle to a holder fastened to her thigh. He suddenly felt the suit getting even tighter than usual.
“Don’t be embarrassed. It’s fine. There’s a fountain nearby.” Her voice was melodic, she pronounced every word fully and easily.
His face blushed.
“No, no. It’s not…” Unsure of what to say, he just shrugged and let his words fade.
Her grip was firm, confident. His awkward, furry. They laughed.
“Well, John, shouldn’t you be off to work?”
“I guess there’s really no point now. Although, I do need to get my phone…” He looked in the direction of the building which had a small questionalble vet clinic in its basement.
His brows were close together, almost touching, so he looked like he was in deep thought. She liked that. She also liked how his jaw clenched, tightened, revealing his lean neck muscles. He was not a handsome man, but a dark line beneath his eyes that made him look like he was wearing eyeliner, his unkempt beard, messy locks of hair springing in all directions, all of it made him look innocent and fun. It could all be because of his costume, sure, but the first impression was unerasable.
“You know what? The fuckers can wait.”
She smirked. He gestured to a bench, and they sat down. Immediately, he jumped up. She jerked and looked at him befuddled.
“Do you want some coffee? I should get some coffee. How do you take it?”
“Um. Sure… Black, no sugar.”
“Black, no sugar. Got it. Be right back.”
He almost ran off, tripping over his suit. Realizing he still had the head tucked under his arm, he returned and tossed it on the bench. She laughed.
When he got to the nearest coffee place, after making his order, he decided he couldn’t return to her dressed as a fluffy Golden Retriever. So he hurried to the bathroom by the dazzeld and confused looks of the employees and customers. He didn’t know what to do with the suit, once he managed to get out of it, becoming aware that he misses his colleague who always helped him with do that, and, that he hates that place which hosts a secret, not to mention, illegal dog fight club in the even lower level of the building.
The bartender called: “Jack and Kitty!” But John was in the back, stuffing his suit in a container. He understood he would probably have to go back to the clinic/fight club and realized one good thing ─ no one can call and bother him now. He returned to the shop to the disgruntled looks of the employees, grabbed the hot cups and rushed out.
While he was busying himself with the trash, she took the time to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. She placed the seemingly runaway lock of hair a bit further to the left, added some gloss to her lips, chewed a gum and threw it away, adjusted her breasts so the stuffing would’t bother her, and all of that while looking at the small black mirror around her wrist.
Realizing only when he was halfway to the bench that he was wearing shorts and a white tank top, he stopped. This made a little drop of coffee jump out of the cup, pass through a small crack on the lid and land on his shorts. Good, he though. It didn’t mess up my shirt. And with that, he didn’t care anymore about what he was wearing.
It took her a second to see that a fairly tall, kind of cute guy walking her way with a coffee cup in each hand was her very own dog-man. She smiled.
“I was just about to leave,” Katie said.
“Oh, no. You would’ve missed the best part!”
“Here you go, Kitty.” He grinned.
“Oh, well, thanks Ja… Come on! That is not half as funny.”
“So, what are you up to?” He made himself more comfortable on the bench by creating a pillow out of the dog’s head. He pushed it a bit further, but not too much, so as to make her sit closer. She didn’t bite.
“Not much. I’m studying for a chef. And running. Lots of running. Have to stay healthy if I want to eat all of that delicious food.”
“You look great.” When he said it he immediately wondered if it was too soon.
“Thanks.” She smiled and took a sip of her coffee.
“You know” she added, “when I saw you approaching, I though, well who was that handsome, elegant, professional man.” She barely finished the sentence unable to stop herself from laughing.
He liked her laugh, it was gentle, warm, it didn’t sound mean, just a tease, a little melodic burst of energy.
“I came prepared, my lady. These shorts didn’t iron themselves, no, no.”
They talked and laughed until there was no more coffee to drink, and a bit after. But she had to go to class, and he had a job to be fired from. So they parted ways.
“I hope to ask you for the time soon.”
“And I hope to run into you.” She winked, excessively hard and long. He smiled.
“I would ask you for your phone number, but I’m not sure I will memorize it corrrectly. Do you happen to have a pen and paper?”
“Aren’t you the art major?”
“Yeah… Haven’t drawn in years, it seems. Anyway, let’s be pathetic. Give me your number, and if I remember it, it is meant to be, if not, well…”
“Oh, you mean cliché? Sure. It’s easy to remember.” And she gave him the number.
They hugged. It was brief. But for them, at that moment, anything was.
“So, you’ve sent her the text?” said a bald, burly man.
John showed to a burly, bald man his phone and on it a message that read:
>> Sorry, buddy. Wrong number. <<
“Dang. You know, let her go. It was two weeks ago. Forget it. Move on.” He took a big gulp of a sparkling golden drink. While he was doing it he looked through the bottom of the glass at his friend. He could make his face longer, and his forehead huge, wide, so he looked like an alien, or, he could widen his chin and mouth, so he seemed like a giant. That made him laugh. That always made him laugh.
“Alien?” said John, taking a sip himself.
They both giggled and drank some more bear.
“Hey,” bald, burly man said after they’ve finished the glass and John was puring them more, “why didn’t you ask for her name?”
John frowned. “I did. It’s Kitty.”
“No, no. Her entire name. So you could facebook her.”
John’s eyebrows reised. “Oh. Damn. Could’ve done that. Should have.”
This time, he took a long toothful of the cold, bitter drink.