He sat bemused. Licked dry lips. Yawned in anticipation. Borderline Boredom. Shifted the rug under his feet. A nervous habit. Wished he'd never heard of Fred sometimes, wished he'd never agreed pon mutual handshake to take him on. Rued the day Fred came bearing his pathetic load of inconsequential musings: more rantings, he guessed, than a good down-to-earth- "you'll be okay Fred but you must move on, get with it, get over your lost love 'Tiger.' Weird name for a female. Fred couldn't pay...just small gifts...pathetic.
The counsellor didn't have any particular bent for females except the passing 'hellbent' frivolity of a male to female liason however brief and lustful. Fred appeared, gaunt, old beyond frailty, old beyond reason, uselessness personified, magnified by his stilted speech & rhetorical ramblings. The Counsellor was trapped. He saw the 'usual' paper bag and sensed the content. Fixed an "I'm listening Fred to your same old - same old about 'Tiger.'
Mental 'off switch' on. Unload Fred. Draw up your cracking arthritic 94 year-old-knees. Lock them in. Fred coughed. Began. The lonely needle stuck in the lonely 'past' groove. Memory mists locked forever on the one subject. Too scared to let go, to scared to go on. Wishing and beckoning death. A mild stroke brought his 'lost love' thoughts to the fore, a mental cage of sameness, the gate rusted shut, uncompromising grief.
Let the "droning" begin. "Twas in spring that I first set eyes on Tiger. She was beautiful, wide-eyed, fancy-free, belonged to no-one." Counsellor forced himself to concentrate on the old man's monotonic 'flat-liner' verbosity. "...she walked with a swager, swished she did, sleek, red hair, wide-eyed was she...real wide-eyed. She ignored the young guys sittin' outside the pub. Theys all lusted, wanted her. But she was aloof. Didn't need anybody, she didn't. Owed no-one nothin' beholdin' to no-one. You could tell she'd been a loner...a regal misfit answerin' to..."
I cut in mentally..."answerin' t no-one Fred..." God! Get on with it Fred!
Fred looked at me as if I had indeed spoken. Fred allowed a drained map of facial disparagement and then suddenly jerked upright and smiled. "I was a plain fella, sittin' mindin' me business, I didn't drink. THEN! Without so much as by your leave this young bright-eyed female was standin' right in front of me! She ran her tongue round her lips and sat down there next to me. The guys hated that. She said nuthin' just sat there starin' at me. Even to this very very day I can't fathom why an ugly guy like me could have attracted her."
"We lived together, we slept together. Never ever did she stray. Loved me she did." Fred trailed off. "Then she died..."
The tears started, wound their sleek hesitant way onto his rubbing knuckles. Fred reached into his jacket left his 'gift' in the brown paper bag in front of the Counsellor. It seemed larger this time. Fred coughed, spat, cracked his way back into the distance.
"Don't get up Counsellor. Thanks f your time, I know you understand." Grey mournful Fred was buried on an equally grey morning day. Non descript grave. Non descript Fred.
Alongside the grave of 'Tiger.' His first love. The Counsellor waited until the small mumbling group at the gravesite disbanded. A woman remarked, "Fred died the day Tiger died..."
Counsellor felt a sudden pang of jealously even though he only sensed the remark. He carried the brown paper bag to the grave. He ripped the bag open, took out the larger than normal 'payment' bone & buried it next to his master. He didn't begrudge the stray red setter's time with his master. Counsellor wondered if old Fred loved him as much as his first stray dog? He placed a paw on Fred's grave. Sat respectfully near Fred's first love. Sighed. At least he was a good listener...the makings of a Counsellor?
Can two dogs equally share a master's love? And vice-versa. Only Fred knew.
"Cheers...even if you think your life means nought you'd be surprized who's listening! You'd be surprized who cares. You'd be surprized how big, all encompassing, and embracing, love can be. Costs bugger all to care. Scant time out of our busy little 'self important' lives?...so i've been led to believe. Believing is a start.The rest will come."