Venice, Tom & Lisa

This is Toms’ big chance, his opportunity and it maybe the last one, after the whole Glastonbury debacle, to show her there is more to him than meets the eye.
He is the kind of guy who takes risks, is really out there, the kind of guy who TAKES HIS DOG TO WORK.
He’s chosen the day carefully, not Monday, the dog is not impressive enough to cut through the Monday morning gloom and definitely not dress down Friday.
Dress down Friday has enough horrors of its own, without adding Venice to the mix.
Its not as if his mother actually chooses all his clothes for him, but with her staff shop discount, it would be financial madness to get his clothes anywhere else and besides, Next is trendy, cool, a bit designer.
Besides, Tom is saving hard, that first step onto the property ladder, well, it wont make itself, there have to be sacrifices, so Next staff shop it is.
So, Weds it is, unofficial bring your dog to work day.
Of course, Venice is not actually, precisely his dog. Venice belongs to his mother, the 4th or is it 5th labrador she has owned. In Toms’ mind they have blurred together, Molly, Princess, Scout, was there another one?.
They are always black , always female and always very badly behaved.
In fariness, Venice is not the worst, she has a reasonably engaging face, sometimes comes when you call her and her tail is not a complete weapon of mass destruction

Tom has been a little in love with Lisa for 6 months now, she has completely straight blond hair, doesn’t wear too much make-up, sometimes laughs at Toms’ jokes and once mentioned that she quite liked Dr Who . Its more commonality than Tom has with any of the other girls in the office.

But its Lisa’s’ Friday persona that entrances Tom, her skinny jeans, those strange shoes, the sort his sister describes as quirky and he would describe as probably difficult to walk in and , and this is the most entrancing, the flash of blue stone in her belly button. He’ s only seen it once, the day she leaned across his desk to reach something and her jumper rode up and there it was. If he closes his eyes he can see it again, quite perfectly. Everything about her Friday look says that Tom needs to up his game, make some kind of statement to stand any chance with her.

On Weds, he gets to work early, with Venice and a huge bag of Venice based equipment in tow. He settles her under the desk, boot up his computer, he’s aiming for that I could work at Apple if i wanted to look, even considered wearing his loafers without socks, but on balance, he’ not prepared to risk blistered heels, even for Lisa and the dog is probably enough of a statement.

And this has got to work after the Glastonbury disaster, he can still, with a terrible ease, relive the hot shame of that conversation.
They were all sitting in the canteen, him, Lisa, Jed ( like thats his real name), with his complicated hair do and p/time DJ gig and Shaz, the one who has a tattoo on her wrist and they’re all talking about Glastonbury, the bands they’re going to see, how cool its going to be. Toms keeping pretty quiet, pings open his weather app on his IPhone,
‘look’ he says ‘ solid rain forecast for the whole weekend, car parks will be a nightmare’
There is a pause, they all look at him, Jed leans forward, ruffles his hair
‘ muddy Glasto’s not for a festival virgin like you Tommy boy’
The word virgin hangs in the air.

So, the Venice thing really needs to work.

And it does, all morning people are stopping by his desk, petting and cooing, girls he has never spoken to are making detours to share their crisps with the dog. Lisa stops by 3 times, tells him how much she likes labradors,. Tom feels himself grow taller, relax into this attention, he is definitely on target to ask Lisa to come for a drink after work.
He cannot believe it when Lisa suggests that they take Venice for a walk at lunchtime and they do. They walk out of the office together, chatting, Tom cannot stop grinning, even when Venice manages to tangle her lead around his legs and he almost falls flat on his face in front of Lisa, he is still smiling.

And then Venice does the thing that dogs do on walks, Tom cannot believe the size of the turd, he looks at the dog bag, looks down again at the pavement, tries hard not to gag. The hand that he had hoped to casually, oh so casually drape around Lisa’s shoulder on the way back to work will have to deal with what is in front of him.

There is a horrible pause, while both he and Lisa stare at what is in front of him, then Lisa sighs, removes the dog bag from his frozen hand and does what needs to be done.
His last sight of her is her retreating back as she walks away, the over-full dog bag still held between two fingers in her outstretched hand.

Tom feels every golden moment of this golden day slip away, he looks down at Venice and wonders if anyone will notice if he never, ever goes back to work.


About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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