by Valery V. Petrovskiy
DOGS’ Waltz or First Date
We could never have met again, what for? We had had all possible the day before: sauna, then massage and sex at last. But her eyes were very peculiar, almond-shaped and with melancholy look like a dog’s. So I called her and made a date in downtown at the department store. I was not late, and she was waiting already. She was standing there smoking with somebody who seemed to be meeting someone as well.
And I went for a walk with her. To be more exact, we dropped in at her office first, she wanted to get a job at the borough police office. A probationer, she had to serve some witnesses with summons. So we went for a walk with these summonses in hands, and they didn’t hinder us much.
It was March then, and for us it didn’t matter where to walk on. At first we visited one-family houses, where dogs barked everywhere but no masters. We knocked the wickets, fought back the dogs and thrashed the porches. Nobody but dogs met us and then saw us off. For them it didn’t matter much where to run around and whom to bark at. A bitch was on heat and some male dogs followed her in a pack.
The spring’s come already, and March happened about. In the gully a pair of dogs coupled and were suffering on the last of snow, tried as they might but were not able to scatter. They shifted their feet in an odd waltz. The bitch looked at me with affliction. Dogs were running around them, rooks gave a cry above us. If there was any witness to serve summons to, one hided well himself. In vain we clambered the thawed out paths amidst downy willows. We only soiled our footwear all over.
In two hours or so we scrambled out back. We cleaned the boots in a wayside snowdrift and found ourselves in a regular town. There were summons left to serve here as well, and we started to make round of the apartment houses. All the witnesses dwelled upstairs in the top-floor rooms. And we climbed on foot, looking for a flat needed. We rang in, asking for, serving summons and made one to sign them. We got tired and sat smoking at a landing then. Sure, she was eager to join up police.
Then we passed on to the next block house and again climbed stairs up until her leg began to ache. Why, her shin was bandaged, she had been bitten by a dog! The bandage was disarranged by walking, and I had to change the dressing. She was better after that, and we went on. Then she said that it was enough for a day: let’s leave some papers for the next! Yes, it was enough for the first meeting, and we had a smoke again just on a landing. And there she felt unwell, really sick.
I didn’t notice how it’d happened. We just stood there smoking and she had an attack of rending pain, so that she couldn’t straighten herself up. To catch a taxi I dragged her out doubled up. I think, we looked then much like a coupled dogs waltzing. We drove to a hospital nearby; they should have known what to do. They asked her to wait there for a gynecologist. Then I had been waiting for her in the corridor with her belongings, while they saw her.
I had her hat and overcoat with me, and I was thinking how good of me was to help a girl. It was pleasant to think that she could bear a baby. Though not mine, it was great! Then she was sent for ultrasonic, having to wait there for a doctor again. I started searching after him in various rooms till he came, for my efforts he received her in the first place. I was upset to know she had no baby. What a pity!
Then she felt better and we went out. In the night air she recovered her breath. She said there was no need to see her home, she was all right. She promised to call me to set me at ease. She didn’t call me then. In a year I forgot her name, in two I didn’t remember her look.
…Once my friends called me for a festive occasion. When all the guests had almost left, the hostess felt unwell. Perhaps, she felt sick before yet she had stood it, and then she was almost crying. So we called an ambulance and drove her to an emergency room. Once more I met there the girl with the almond-shaped eyes. A boy brought her to the emergency station, and she was sitting there facing me. I heard he soothed her down, and she was watching me with her melancholy eyes like a dog’s. Possibly, she was there after a baby.
When the summer was coming to its end, and nothing good was behind, I had a desire still to make the summer memorable. And I made up my mind to call somebody, but somebody didn’t mean anybody. I called Kate because I had promised her so ten years ago. It slipped out of my mouth then, when we had much fun together, “Well, I’ll call you in ten years, and we…”
I didn’t think up then what we’d do together in ten years. Most likely, we would just meet and have a talk. Still I don’t know what people do in so many years. Actually I gave her a call not because I had promised her some day; to deliver a promise is not so pleasant, it’s like to be indebted to someone. I called back because a short summer was drawing to a close once again, and I had to impress it in my memory. It seems I took it right why I made her a call: it’s like looking through old photos by two. To look them through by oneself and to pass them over together is quite different, “Have a look!” Thus you really dip in the past, and it doesn’t matter how much time passed.
The only thing mattered that another summer was drawing to a close. It was the reason why I called up, not because I’d promised. And it occurred on Saturday, the last weekend of the summer. Even in ten years I found Kate in. I don’t know why, but I was sure she’s in, and she picked up the receiver. No, I was not amazed then!
I wouldn’t say that these ten years I was preparing a speech to start with. Sure, she’s not been sitting there and waiting for me to ring up, it just happened so. Actually, she was to be at home because there changes all but one’s habits! And she was in habit of waiting for me to call in evening. We had been too long together till I told her that I would call her back in ten years. And then she left me with not a word about summers we spent together. When young, one never counts summers, better nights or hours. Ten years wouldn’t matter.
I simply dialed a number and she picked up the receiver. Tell me, was I lucky or not at the moment? Sure, I got her on phone and I had a minute to greet her. And that was all! I hardly had a chance to utter that ten years passed, she apologized that an intercom was ringing and she had to meet her boy-friend. Well, I felt hurt but not very much. On one hand, I kept my word and made a call; on the other hand, I didn’t know what I would have said further. Hallo and what else then? I was saved that her boy-friend turned up, possibly, he even asked why she would be too long to come to the door. And she would say that an old friend gave her a call. “Imagine, recalled me in ten years!” Oh, she would not say that long, just: “Showed up in ten months!” Well, ten months sounds odd, let it be a year then.
And he would look at her and think: well, one keeps her in mind in a year still. Then he would come up to her and kiss her in a wistful manner. He would kiss and think if he rings her up in a year, no, in half a year. And while he was thinking he kept her kissing. And she would let him kiss complaisant and try not to recollect me, because it would be not right to kiss one and thought of another. She wouldn’t know that I thought of her every now and then. And it wasn’t a casual calling, nothing happens at random!
Perhaps, I called her up because I had a spare evening, and my girl-friend proved not to be in. Or I called up her because it was the last day off in summer right there. Then I dialed a half-forgotten number, and Kate turned out in, but not for me she was waiting. It ever happens so: those you want are always out, and those, who are not after you, would lift the receiver. Bad luck! So, where was my girl? Perhaps, she was just out with an old friend of hers, a sudden and hurting idea!
I felt so vexed that I rushed out and set off to her place. It was almost midnight then and she wasn’t in, and I wanted to see who would bring her home. In her courtyard dogs came running about there, more than folks in the street at the late hour. No place to stand and wait for her, the dogs scampered about barking. What a dog’s night!
I spat out and was off, back to the bus stop. And there she was getting out…
Mr. Valery V. Petrovskiy is a freelance journalist and short story writer from Russia.
He is a Chuvash University, Cheboksary graduate in English, graduated VKSch Higher School, Moscow in journalism, and had a degree at Kazan State Technological University in psychology.
He has two dozens of his prose work published in the U.S.A., and a pair of pieces released in Australian journals. Some short stories are forthcoming in Canadian RYGA literary magazine.
Valery lives in Russia at a remote village by the Volga River.