Lost & Found

The mongrel loped into the elevator again. Lord knows how he evaded the Port Authority security most mornings and trotted among the people from newsstand to bagel shop to restroom to elevator.

“I hope the ground floor is OK for you, too,” Linstrome said as he nudged the button. The mongrel parked himself in the corner and looked at him. The elevator was the only place the mongrel sat still. “Leena used to have a cocker spaniel, God rest her soul,” he said to the mongrel. “Used to paint her posed with it. Lying, the two of them, on the grass. Or Weezy on her lap by the window for the lighting.” He waited for his floor to come up.

“You should find somebody. They left you all alone, didn’t they? No one to shoulder your burden, little guy.

“They’re gonna catch you, you know.” The mongrel returned his gaze, without cocking his head to one side. “You think you’re getting used to the independence. It’s been a while for you, on your own. It can’t last forever, pal.” The mongrel was getting on a bit, some gray whiskers frosting its chin. A soiled collar encircled its throat. “You’re a bit bigger than Weezy was. And more savvy.”

They both waited.

“You should find somebody. They left you all alone, didn’t they? No one to shoulder your burden, little guy.

“Well don’t just look at me. I’m not some geriatric oracle. This town is full of homeless people like you, so don’t expect a handout.”

When the elevator dinged and the door opened, a security guard was there, an obese black woman in her uniform, who plunged in, grabbing the dog by the collar. “Okay, you, got you this time!”

The mongrel struggled to pull away, barked and whined.

“He’s mine.” The words descended from above, somewhere in the elevator shaft, but in Linstrome’s voice.

The guard stared at him. “Uh-huh! He’s your dog. And if there’s a fine for letting him out without a leash, and one for him not having a license, then is he still your dog?”

He looked at her for a moment, then at the struggling dog.

Well, Linstrome needed a new model, anyway.

“Sure,” he said. “He’s just been lost a long time, is all.”

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