Short Story: Once In My Life

Four old paws trodding along at a quarter of regular walking pace can either be frustrating or peaceful depending on who you ask. For Richard it was nothing but peaceful and he thought the rest of humanity could learn a thing or two from Frank, or Frankie the dog as he sometimes called him. He was named after the one and only Frank Sinatra because when Richard had bought this beautiful little dog and was driving him to his new home, one of Sinatra’s songs was playing on the radio.
”For once in my life, nananana,” sang Richard to himself while Frank was smelling at what looked to be nothing but asphalt. He regretted at that moment that he had never moved to the countryside where dogs could run around and play on big open fields. It was too late for that now, though.
The walk took thirty minutes, but for a younger dog it might have taken ten or fifteen minutes. When they got home, Frank tried to jump up on the couch. It was too high for his age, and he tried and tried without getting up. Richard carried him up on the couch and wrapped him in the softest blanket he had. He sat down beside Frank and turned on the TV. There they sat until Frank fell asleep and Richard right after. The couch was exceptionally good to fall asleep in and they did so often. When morning came, one of the two friends woke up. Richard petted Frank gently to wake him up for breakfast, but he didn’t wake up.”Time for food, Frank. Don’t you want food?” said Richard.
Frank didn’t wake up. Richard listened for breathing and heard none. He put his hand on Frankie’s chest and felt no heartbeat. It was all over. Richard wasn’t needed anymore. He pressed his face into Frankie’s fur and cried. He held the small corpse in his arms and kept crying until there was no tears left. He went down to the cellar to get a shovel. When he came back up to the apartment he re-wrapped Frank in his blanket and carried him to the car. After about an hour’s drive, they arrived at a parking lot near a forest. Richard walked with Frankie in his arms for thirty minutes until they came to a field. He carried Frank to the middle of the field and buried him there.
”You’ll be happy here,” he said to the unmarked grave. ”At least you didn’t suffer.”
He sat down beside the grave, feeling empty. Without knowing why, he picked up his phone from his pocket and called his father who he hadn’t talked to for more than ten years.
”Hello?” said a woman’s voice.”Who’s this?” said Richard, thinking he had the wrong number.
”Violet. Who’s calling?”
”I’m Richard and I’m looking for Joe. Is he there?”
”Richard? You’re Joe’s son, he talked about you. Joe died recently, Richard. Overdose.”
Richard didn’t know what to feel or what to say.
”You still there?” said Violet.
”Yeah. Why do you have my dad’s phone?”
”I’m keeping it as a memory of him, but mostly I end up telling the people who call him that he is dead. I’m his partner.”
”I didn’t even know he had a partner.”
”I know,” she said, and an awkward silence arose.
”Overdose?” said Richard. ”Was it painful?”
”I don’t know about the overdose itself, but the reason for taking that much drugs must have been. I have to go now, Richard. Goodbye.”
”Bye,” he said. He considered if he should call Violet again to talk about funeral arrangements. Then he walked back to the car and drove home.

by Andreas Blaustein