"You know how you see a place and it's just right, and you're just tired enough. I guess you can't help stopping." - John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
Dedicated to my girlfriend, who likes Brittany, Quinn, and puppies.
"I think you should get a puppy."
Quinn laughs and switches her legs. They're stretching before ballet class, though once the actual instruction begins, they'll be student and teacher. For now, though, they're both sprawled across the floor of the dance room at the community center where Brittany teaches beginner and intermediate classes three days a week during the summer.
"Where'd that come from?"
"You said you wanted to be loved. Puppies are, like, little furry pockets of love. I'd say get a kitten, but they grow up into Lord Tubbington and he's rude."
It takes Quinn a minute to backtrack to whatever reference point Brittany's pulling from, but then she remembers. "Are you talking about New York? That was months ago."
"But you're still sad about it."
"At Starbucks you had a caramel frap with regular milk and whipped cream. You're still sad."
Sometimes Quinn wonders if Brittany's actually some kind of CIA sleeper agent. It would explain a lot. "Skinny vanilla gets old after a while."
"Is that why you cheated on Sam?"
"How is it you remember everything but you're always trying to copy my homework?"
Brittany shrugs. "Dr. Nevins says I'm not a linear thinker."
"I'm fine," Quinn repeats, then pushes at her friend with her foot. "It's three fifteen."
For the next forty-five minutes, all Quinn has to think about are eight counts. She can save her brooding over her loneliness for the drive home.
She's positive her mother will immediately veto the idea of any pets, so she's not even sure why she brings it up.
"It would have to sleep in your room or outside," is Judy's response.
Quinn pauses between bites of chicken caesar salad. "Are you saying I can get a dog?"
"You girls never had one because your father's allergic. I don't mind."
Quinn figures this is a divorce thing. She's willing to take advantage of it. "You're sure?"
Judy offers a slight nod in affirmation. "But if it chews my shoes or my furniture..."
"I'm not even sure if I want one." Except she's been thinking about it ever since Brittany brought it up.
"It might be good for you to take care of something," Judy says before rising from her seat to clear the table.
It stings. Mostly because it's kind of really accurate.
Apparently, Brittany volunteers at the Lima Animal Shelter on Saturdays, which isn't really any kind of surprise, but the fact that Quinn never even knew about it kind of reinforces her whole spy theory.
This is how she find herself staring at row of kennels with Brittany standing next to her. Maybe it's the girl's inherent fashionista qualities, but the dancer manages to even make the brown Dickies and work shirt combination look good on her.
The cage on the end contains half a dozen chocolate lab puppies, two months old and ready to go home with someone, but it's hard to get a good look at them, because there are three other families in front of her.
While Quinn waits for her turn, she looks over the other dogs in nearby cages. Some of them won't stop barking and that just makes her nervous, but there are also a few mild mannered types, both big and small, who watch her with curiosity.
"Are these the lost ones?"
Brittany nods. "A lot are strays, yeah. If they're over on this side, though, they've already been held for the possible owners."
"What does that mean?"
"They're all available. Until... you know."
Quinn doesn't know. "Until what?"
"Until we can't hold them, anymore. And we have to-"
"I get it."
"Good, because I don't like thinking about it."
"Oh, god. That's not your job, is it?"
Brittany shakes her head. "No, I'm usually in charge of food and water. Sometimes cage cleaning, but that's so gross."
Quinn takes a few steps to her left to look in the next kennel. There are more vocal dogs, but there's also one midsized pup (mostly white with patches of black and brown, including a spot over one eye and a brown ear) who seems to sit patiently in the corner as he stares at her through the chain link. "Who's this?" When crouches down to get a better look, the dog pokes its nose at her through the fence.
"Um," Brittany looks over the cards that are clipped to the cage door and pulls one free. "He doesn't have a name. But he's a hound mix and he's about a year old. He's been here for a few weeks." She drops down so she's even with Quinn and the dog. "I think he looks like a bigger version of Wishbone."
"Kind of," Quinn agrees. She glances to her right, in the direction of the puppies. They're super cute and fairly irresistible, but it's obvious they won't have any trouble finding homes. "Can I see him, like, out of the cage?"
"Sure. If you go out this door to your... right, I think... I'll meet you in the visitation pen. I just have to go get the key."
The pen is to the left, but Quinn kind of already guess that, because Brittany does most things backward. She's good at her shelter job, though, because the dog happily trots along side her when she approaches Quinn.
"You should get an actual job here."
"But I already have a job teaching dance."
"What do you think his name is?" she asks as she redirects her attention to the dog, who sits at her feet without any instruction. Quinn lowers herself to a knee and rubs her hand over the dog's head.
"He looks like a Bingo."
"There are probably a million dogs in the world named Bingo." A paw raises and lands on Quinn's knee.
"It's obviously short for something else."
Quinn moves to actually sit down on the grass. The dog lies down next to her. "He's very well-mannered." She scratches behind his ears as Brittany drops onto the grass next to them. "Maybe Bingo's a nickname for Mr. Bingley."
"Like, Mr. Darcy's friend?"
"Wait, you're not even in AP Lit. Since when do you read Austen?"
"I don't know who he is, but Santana made me watch that movie with her because she had to take a test on it. Or the book, I guess. Our class read something about two brothers who wanted to live on a rabbit farm, but then one killed the other. It was pretty sad."
"That's what Steinbeck's known for. The sad stuff."
"I guess he didn't have a dog."
"Are you trying to tell me that if I don't take this guy home, I'll just end up writing depressing novels for the rest of my life?"
"Maybe." Brittany looks down at the pup, who now has his head resting on Quinn's leg. "Bingo agrees with me. He also seems like he has a lot to talk about, so you should bring him on Fondue for Two."
Quinn can't get the thought out of her head that if she doesn't take this dog home, then he's left at the mercy of the animal control system. Sure, that technically applies to all the dogs in the building next to her, but only one of them is staring up at her with literal puppy dog eyes. "I hope you're not camera shy, Mr. Bingley."
"Bingo," corrects Brittany. "You're friends now. You don't expect him to call you Madame Fabray, do you?"
"I don't expect anyone to call me that because it makes me sound like I run a brothel."
"Or a whorehouse."
"Don't I need to fill out some paperwork?"
"For a whorehouse? Only if it's legal where you live. Otherwise you probably shouldn't leave evidence behind."
"I meant about the dog, Britt."
"Oh. Yeah." Brittany smiles and pulls Quinn into an unexpected hug. "I think you two will be very happy together."
"What is that?"
"It's a dog, Mom."
"I know what it is." Quinn's about to ask if her mother is drunk, but Judy continues. "I thought you were getting a puppy."
"I liked this one. His name is Bingo."
"Is he... housebroken?"
"I think so."
"I'd like this to be a situation where we're positive and not just guessing."
"Okay. I don't know. I just walked in the house, so he hasn't had a chance to prove himself, yet."
"Let's just hope he doesn't prove himself all over my rug."
"He's really well behaved."
"We'll see about that." Judy looks down at the dog, who's been waiting quietly at Quinn's side every since they entered the house. "Bingo, come!"
Bingo walks the few steps towards Judy, then watches her, expectantly.
Bingo drops the rest of the way to the floor.
"Make me a mimosa."
The dog doesn't comply, but he does lift his head and cock it to one side, as if he wants to understand.
Quinn smirks. "See?"
"I suppose the mimosa was pushing it."
Bingo's totally house trained. He also knows how to fetch, roll over, and barks on command. Quinn keeps trying to think of other dog tricks to see if he knows them. She also wonders why anyone would give up such a smart dog.
"Did you commit a crime? Bank robbery?" She asks, not sure if she should expect and answer, because he's surprised her the entire forty-eight hours she's had him in her home. "You're not a serial killer, are you?"
The dog sighs and draws his attention to the rawhide chew that sits in front of him.
Quinn makes a mental note to keep plenty of those on hand, just in case.