The Universal Dog

You do it. I do it. We cheat and cut corners, leave work early, steal office supplies, and lie about doctor’s appointments. If we could (admit it), we’d rig the stock exchange or the lottery or the next election and cash in for good. And then we rage at everyone else pulling the same crap. Still, occasionally, each of us has this moment or two when we can just maybe hit a grace note. Or not. Here is a non-scientific sampling of questionable opportunities missed, seized, or foolishly squandered. Or gently sidestepped.

For instance, there’s Lou.

Lou makes no bones about having soaked that young Hispanic
 couple for an extra two grand for supplemental insurance
 coverage that is basically useless or the old fart, trading in last
 year’s model on which Lou low-balled the Blue Book price.
 Marcus is paying close attention and hits the bigger numbers
 two quarters running. Midway through the third quarter, as
 Lou’s numbers are tanking, he makes a couple of calls to fix
 that kid for good. Marcus knows and doesn’t care. He’s already got a spot lined up at the bigger dealership down the strip, but can’t resist messing with Lou’s head a little. Marcus makes his own call and, on his last day, that old fart with the rip-off trade in shows up with a lawyer.

But now we move on to Katie and Miranda.

Katie and Miranda are planning their honeymoon. Their mothers, well Katie’s mother, is planning their wedding. Miranda’s mother will come around. They stay up late with glossy brochures spread out on the bed. Katie wants Europe but is ok with caving in to Miranda’s Caribbean fantasies. This is how Katie can leverage that two bedroom condo uptown that Miranda isn’t so sure about. Katie has cashed in all the stocks Daddy had accumulated before he died, something that would have killed him all over again if he wasn’t already dead. It’s their honeymoon, after all, and Katie’s Mom still has the family house. She won’t even know the stocks are gone. And Miranda’s mother is on her own, the old homophobe.

Then there’s Rosa.

Rosa hangs up her smock, washes her hands and just happens to forget to clock out. Tomorrow Mr. Evans will believe her when she says she left at 3pm. He’s a complete sucker. This way she has an extra hour to get to her other job and, on the way, can check in with Roddy and Stick about the numbers. She hit two good ones last week, maybe she’s on a streak. Looking back into the kitchen to make sure no one is watching, she quickly tucks the covered dish of fried chicken into her bag and is out the door. Mick, the fry cook, sees her and smiles as he folds the last fifteen bucks of Rosa’s tip money into his pocket.

And now we get to Marty and Sid.
Marty and Sid took over in the store after the old man seized up and had a stroke last year. Sid is in charge of inventory while Marty manages the staff of three and runs the counter. Sid has a system in place, quietly sending about a quarter of the inventory out the back door. Meanwhile Marty has perfected his sales tax dodge and between them, they do pretty good. The old man finally has like six more strokes one afternoon and dies. Marty makes sure Momma is set with the mortgage paid off and the grand-kids coming over on the weekends. Sid quietly takes out a reverse mortgage on the place.

But, here we are still believing that we’d be more like Missus Abrams.
 The last time Brewster Abrams was back home, it was to bury Pops. Now it’s all on him to pick out the nursing home and lie to Mommy so he can get her over there without a fuss. Mommy is dressed and already in the car, happy to be visiting Auntie June (who died ten years ago). Brewster has finagled the kid next door into riding along. Mommy is so engrossed in asking “cousin Nicky” about his college plans that she never seems to notice where they’re going. But as Brewster comes around to open the door for his tiny mother upon arrival at the nursing facility, she touches his face and tells him he’s a good son. Missus Abrams always knew her boy Brewster would come through as best he could, even though he has to know Auntie June’s been dead for years

Writer Tammy Remington with sculpture by Tom Otterness, 14th Street subway station

Published September 2016 as part of the “Two Stories Up!” Series (2016–2017). 
Two Stories Up! was an ongoing project that had Tammy Remington and AleXander Hirka (The Anomalous Duo) each composing a new (extremely short) short story every two months which was then sent via postal mail to interested readers.