Qualified Entry: Fiction Category

By: Iris Harrison

As assistant manager for Thompson & Smith Accountants, Gina was an eccentric girl about twenty two years old with dark brown hair, pale skin, and icey blue eyes. She performed every odd job available around the small town where she lived. Being an assistant manager for Thompson & Smith was her main job, but I often found her working as a bag boy at Jimmy’s Market, a florist at Caperville Flowers, a computer technician at Best Buy, and head chef at Main Street Bakery. Despite her serious allergies to cats, dogs, and hamsters, Gina’s latest venture was working for the animal shelter on the far side of town. She worked in the stock room, recording the pet food storage bin levels. The shelter prided itself in being one of the few shelters that placed the majority of its animals in foster homes or adopted them out instead of euthanizing them. Weeks passed, and all the homeless animals came and went off to loving homes except one dog. The people of Caperville, apart from Gina, formed a kind of aristocracy with their mini mansions and manicured lawns. They preferred the more refined poodles and Chihuahuas. The hyper working dogs like labs and pointers often were adopted as hunting dogs for the hunting camps of the wealthy. Despite these ideal conditions for adoption, no one in Caperville was willing to adopt an overweight English bulldog that Gina had nicknamed Gilbert. After a while, Gina discovered that the dog would have to be euthanized the following day, because he had not been adopted yet. She couldn’t bear this news and took the puppy home with her that afternoon.

Gina knew nothing about dogs. She had never owned a dog, never lived with a dog, never even taken care of a dog for a neighbor. She walked away from the pound holding the forty pound shot put awkwardly in her arms and buckled the white and brown dog into the passenger seat of her black smart car. The dog wouldn’t stop squirming around in her arms and scraped up her arms with his long nails. The scene of Gina and Gilbert riding down Main Street side by side in seatbelts the smart car attracted many double takes by the pedestrians and shoppers on the sidewalk. The women looked very uncomfortable and tense around the squirming puppy. Her arms were already covered in red rashes because of her allergies, and her throat felt as if it were on fire. Arriving to her single bedroom apartment above the bookstore, Gina parked the car and unloaded the dog. He dr\ug her all the way up the stairs, nearly pulling Gina’s arm out of the socket. His long claws scratched the old wooden stairs, and the dog drooled pools of saliva all over the rustic floors. His pungent smell and heavy breathing were repulsing. Overwhelmed, Gina left the dog in the central room of the apartment and ran downstairs to buy a copy of Dog For Dummies. When she returned five minutes later, she turned the brass doorknob and her jaw dropped.

The trash was tipped over. Newspapers, empty milk jugs, leftovers, and used coffee filters covered the kitchen rug. Claw marks and bite marks covered every inch of the turned over dining room table, and a lamp lay shattered in the corner of the room. Gilbert was in her bedroom passed out on Gina’s red and white checkered quilt that was soaked with pool of drool.

“Gilbert!! What have you done? Are you kidding me?!?” screamed Gina. The dog propped its head up and gave her a sideways glance.

“That’s it. You’re gone. I can’t deal with this” She grabbed the dog by its fat rolls on its neck, dragged him downstairs, and slung him into her old car. Slamming the door, Gina hopped into the driver’s seat and floored it out into traffic. She was heading right back to the pound. Surprised by the sudden turn of events, Gilbert sat quietly on the tan leather of the front seat with his head in between his front legs. After fifteen minutes, Gina looked over at the bulldog and her heart ached. She reached over and stroked the puppy’s soft brown ears. Suddenly, Gina swerved out of traffic onto a side street, made a quick three point turn, and headed back to her apartment. Twenty minutes later, she twisted the brass doorknob for a second time and pushed open the apartment door with Gilbert in town. She looked down at the bulldog, gave out a loud sneeze, and said, “welcome home to your new home, Gilbert.”