Doggone Train – Part 4 June 2019

Doggone Train – Part 4 June 2019

As Travis descended beneath the Muizenberg railway bridge, to make his way into the village of Muizenberg, he and Sparky passed a huddle of homeless people who made the pavement under the bridge their home. Their piles of belongings hugged the concrete wall and Travis stepped around the thick human scent. Sparky began to growl a low rumble, causing a surprised Travis to stop and see what the happy dog was acting up about. He looked at Sparky,

“What’s up boy?” he asked the dog. Sparky’s growl grew louder and his dog grin turned into folded skin and canines. He was staring at the group of homeless people nearby

Ag voetsak jou mal hond” shouted one of the women who was huddled closest to Travis.

“I’m sorry” shouted Travis in response, “Come on Sparky, let’s cross the road” said Travis nudging the dog with his foot. This only caused Sparky to begin barking hysterically at the woman, who now stood up and raised a brandy bottle at the dog.

“No please don’t” shouted Travis to the lady before checking the road and shoving Sparky into it, running across and calling him. The shock of falling off the pavement, reset Sparky’s meter and he realised he was misbehaving. Quickly he followed Travis.

“Jeez like boy. What was that about?” asked Travis as he walked to the vet clinic, away from the main drag.

The vet clinic was where Travis had expected it to be. A kink in the road past the blue house. Unfortunately, by now, his chinos had rubbed a spot on his back raw, and the part of the pants where the dog pee had been mixed with waterless hand cleaner had turned into something like cardboard, which scraped against his ankle making it raw too.  He hobbled uncomfortably up the stairs and pulled the string to clang an old fashioned bell. The door buzzed and Travis opened it, allowing Sparky, and then himself, in. The cool airconditioned air took his breath away, and he found his eyes dried out almost instantly. Blinking and fumbling his way in, Travis walked to the counter.

“Can I help you,sir” said a sweet voice that came from behind the counter. A blond ponytail wagged at Travis as he made his way to the voice. Two big blue eyes behind large glasses smiled up at him as he peered over the counter.

“Um, hi” he said still blinking excessively, “I found a dog. Can you scan him with the chip thing?” he asked. The girl nodded and smiled encouragingly,

“Oh how kind of you. Of course we can,” she said as she fetched a machine from the drawers of her hidden desk and came around the counter. She wore small pink shorts and a black vest. Travis felt his heartbeat quicken. Bending over to reveal the base of her bum and her petite legs, the receptionist scanned across Sparky’s back. Sparky’s tongue seemed to have increased in length and nearly hung to the floor. He grinned up at her.

Lucky pooch, thought Travis.

“No, it seems like there isn’t a chip. Sorry. But I see he has a tag?”

“Yes, but nobody answered on that number” explained Travis.

“Well, let me take your details” suggested the receptionist as she returned to her post behind the counter. Standing with her pen at the ready she leaned invitingly across the desk.

“Oh no, that won’t do!” she shouted.

“What?” asked Travis looking around.

Sparky’s back legs were bent and he was straining, his every muscle concentrated on making a rather large dog excrement in the middle of the practice floor.

“Oh dear. I’m really sorry lady. Um, just give me a bag. I’ll sort it out” said Travis, mortified by Sparky’s behaviour. The big blue eyes which Travis had two minutes ago almost fallen into had become pin heads, “Here!” she said, slapping a packet into his hand.

Sparky had finished his movement and was once again sniffing the dog food bags. Travis hung his head and went over to the mound and bent over to collect it.

He couldn’t believe it, there in amongst a motley mix of brown shone a bright stone. A stone that was definitely closer to a diamond than anything else Travis had ever seen. Carefully, Travis slipped the packet over his hand, then picked up the precious cargo and folded the bag around it. Standing up he turned to face the piercing glare of the receptionist. He grinned stupidly.

“I’ll just go. Thanks, I’ll get hold of the owner. Come Sparky, time to go home” Travis announced, and as fast as he could, made his way out the door, the dog poo packet tight in his grasp.

At the same moment that Travis walked away from the Muizenberg vet with a new pet and a diamond the size of a golf ball, a well-known gangster named Eldo waited at the Observatory train station.

“Call him”

“Yes boss”

“Listen, boss wants to know where the bleddy hell youz is?… You lost the dog? Boss, he lost the dog”

“We put a diamond in a dog and he lost the f#$*ing dog?”

“He says he’s sorry boss. The dog ran on the train without him and he missed the train”

“What time was the train?”

6am boss

“Find out when it’s coming in. Search that train and find out what happened to the dog. Stupid idiot. How hard could it be to watch a dog? I liked that mutt. It even hated bergies, just like me. Now he’s lost the dog and my diamond. F&*^k. Tell him, he’d better start running”

“Boss says you’re dead brother. Run”



For Part 1 click here

For Part 2 click here

For Part 3 click here

This was first published in the Billboard Magazine in June and July 2019