• Colin Burnett

Lost and Found

This picture was kindly provided by my friend and artisit Rab Harling. Who can be found on twitter @RabHarling

Ah’m jist oan ma wey tae the corner shoap aroond fae ma flat. This hus been ma mornin routine fur as far back as ah kin remember. Only this time ah’m no gone there fur a cheeky cariy oot. Nah, ah’m oan ma wey tae grab some fresh rolls and a bit ae bacon fur ma brekie. Ah ken what yur hinkin? What is a muslim dain eatin bacon? Well, if ah followed everyhing in the Quran ah widnae be fuckin Aldo. Anwey, you’ll no find any answers in that hing. Trust me, eh? ah’ve looked. Jist as ah’m aboot tae heid intae the shoap some wee fanny boay racer drivin an aqua blue fiat punto comes beltin doon the quiet road before comin tae a screetchin halt. The driver quickly tosses a rubbish bag fae the motor before speedin oaff again in the opposite direction. Naeboady seems tae be aboot and there’s an eery silence cast acroass the deed silent street. Which can probably be explained wae the fact that the mornin paper husnae even hit the shelfs yit. Ma gut feelin is tellin me tae ignore the bag and go aboot ma business but now ah’m left wae this naggin thoat

‘’What if there’s gear in the bag?’’

Ah make a tentative walk oor tae the bag that the cunt wis sae eager tae git rid ae. But ah’m alert enough tae take a quick look aroond. Ken, jist tae make sure there’s nae eyes oan me. Wae the weight ae the hing it feels heavier than it actually should. It’s sealed so ah rip it open and even ah’m surprised wae what ah find inside. Insteed ae a white brick ae gold ah’m huddin this wee puppy in ma airms. And it’s starin at me wae its huge baby seal eyes. Jesus, he looks at me. Before he lits oot a tired yawn and he seems content. Which astonishes me, tae be honest. Seeins how he’s jist been chucked oot a motor. Ah carefully lay him back doon oan the road and turn tae heid back tae the shoap and furget that this ever happened. And jist as ah’ve convinced masel ah’ve done the right hing ah hear a feable attempt at a bark and straight awey ah ken he’s goat me by the baws.

Against ma better judgement ah’ve broat the dug back tae ma flat. He’s a timid and frightened wee hing and ah kin tell he’s as unsure aboot this arrangement as ah um. Tae be honest, ah ken fuck aw aboot dugs. Well, apart fae that loat that haunt the web oan a Seturday night. Ah gently rest him oan the rug in the centre ae the livin room and ah’m prayin he doesnae decide tae take a piss oan it. The poor sod seems a bit shaken and stand oaffish. Probably due tae that cunt drivin the car. Efter bribing him wae a bit ae ham fae the fridge he seems maire at ease cos he’s littin me take a closer look at him. There’s a small cut near his ear wae a bit dried blood aroond it. This is defo a staffie, eh? ma mate Freddie hud yin years ago and there’s maire than a resemblance between the two. Ah soon decide that fae themorra ah’ll phone roond they dug haimes and see if there’s any takers. But if he’s steyin the night ah better heid up tae that pet shoap oan the top ae Leith Walk tae git some pissin pads fur him cos he’s no relievin himsel oan ma gleamin laminated flair. Before ah leave the hoose though ah set doon some rules.

‘’Listen, little yin’’ ah tell him. ‘’Yae dinnae like me, eh? and ah dinnae like you’’. He tilts his tiny heid tae the side as if tae say ‘What the fuck are yae gon oan aboot?’.

‘’This is ma hoose’’ ah remind him ‘’You stey oan that side ae the room, ah’ll stey oan this yin. And dinnae even hink aboot settin yur paws oan that couch’’

Mibbie ah’m still high fae the night before cos he seems tae huv a decent understandin ae English. And before ah ken it the wee fella hus trotted oaff tae park his bag ae bones nixt tae the fireplace.

Fur fuck sake, ah only went in fur a cheap bag ae puppy pads and ah’ve came oot a hunner quid oot ae poacket. Mean, will yae look at this, eh? ah’ve goat a lead, a collar, some squeaky toys, dug bowels, and an array ae treats fur the hing. And this wisnae ma dain either. It wis this tidy brunette hing who works there. She comes oor aw sweet talkin, n that. Seducin me wae her patter and as soon as ah telt her aboot findin the dug her boattum lip started tremblin and she goat aw teary eyed. Anywey, before ah even hud a chance tae blink she wis racin aroond the shoap dain a supermarket sweep oan me. Grabbin anyhing she thoat wis ‘cute’ or ‘adorable’. Through gritted teeth ah parted wae the money. Aw humble n full ae smiles. But see if she hud been ten poonds heavier, eh? then ah’da telt her tae git the fuck oot ma wey and ah mighta even threaten her wae a complaint ae harassment.

As ah set fit back in the flat there’s some consolation tae be hud when ah see that the wee mut hus respected the hoose rules. He’s no pissed or shat anywhere and nuttin hus been chewed tae pieces. He’s still sittin slumped doon where ah left him though, but ah kin tell wae the twinkle in his eye that he’s pleased tae see ah come bearin gifts. Efter waterin and feedin him ah sit doon tae read aboot Friday nights disaster at Easter Road. But even wae the paper bloackin ma view ae him ah ken his eyes are still firmly fixated oan me. Ah kin actually feel thum cuttin through the paper like a hoat knife through butter. This little yin is playin a game ae chicken wae me in the hope ah’ll cave and take him a walk oan his new leash. Cos ever since he cloacked the hing he’s kept his peepers oan it. And ah’m actually positive that he nodded taewards it. Ken, as if tae tell me tae pit it oan him and lits fuckin go. But he’s shit ootae luck, eh? Cos you’ll see Kim Jong Un git a noble peace prize fur his humanitarian work before that happens. Fuckin hell, man. The silence is cripplin. Ah ken the mut still husnae flinched yit. Lowerin the paper tae take a gander at him is aw the confirmation ah need. He’s busy starin right fuckin through me.

‘’Jesus’’ ah sais tae him. ‘’Dae yae want tae go a walk then?’’

He jumps up fae his bed in an excited state and begins barkin. Which, of course, is a clear ‘’What dae you hink, daft cunt?’’

So here we are, eh? oan a walk aroond the bloack but admittedly this is maire ae a hostage situation than a bit ae healthy exercise. It’s no like ah’m here through choice, ken? but ah suppose it’s better he’s pissin ootside than inside the flat. Ah refuse tae gee him a name cos if ah dae that then ah might as well pit a ring oan his paw. Wae any luck he’ll be someboady else’s problem themorra. And aw ae this will jist be a distant memory fur us baith. He’s busy sniffin aboot the plants that run along the pathwey. And there's an air ae arragance in his posture. Likesae, he seems tae comin maire oot his shell compared tae when ah first foond him. He stoaps tae lift his leg up and takes a piss oan a lamp post and he looks up at me tae, as if tae say “keep oan walkin”. Then a gust ae wind comes oot ae naewhere and blows an empty coke boattle at him which sends the dug cowarin behind me. And ah kin jist tell this cowardess stems fae that bastard in the motor leavin a stain in his phyche. Ah stare doon deep at his helpless frightened wee puss. And as ah dae ah find massel feelin genuinely shan as fuck.

‘’It’s awrite, son’’ ah tell him. ‘’Ah’m here. Naecunt kin hurt yae now’’

Ma words seem tae huv goatten through tae him. As he gees me an approvin noad ae acknowledgement. Before swiftly he returns tae sniffin aboot and markin his territory oan any lamp post he comes acroass.

Aw ae a sudden ah see this beauty ae lassie walkin taewards us. Ah’ve hud ma eye oan her fur a while. We’ve past each other oan many an occasion, likes. But she never seems tae take any notice ae me. Dinnae ken why but ah’ve alweys hud this hing fur rid heids. She soon cloacks the wee fella and instantly she’s aw oor him. He's lovin the attention tae. A proper wee showman so he is. Lying sprawled oot oan his back as he takes in her beautiful Hollywood smile.

‘’He’s so cute’’ she squeals

‘’Aye, he’s awrite’’ ah tell her.

‘’What’s his name?’’

Ah pause. The pressures oan. Countdown conundrum music playin in ma heid. And it's no jist her who's awaitin ma answer, either. Ah kin see that even the dug huv moved tae the edge ae his seat ‘’Eh’’ ah sais ‘’His name… ah mean his name, is...Bruce’’

Thank fuck ah’d watched Die Hard last night or ah wid huv defos drawn a blank.

‘’Ah’ve goat a bulldog’’ she informs me. ‘’We should take them out a walk together, maybe?’’

Will yae look at this, eh? this wee hings a fanny magnet. Ah mean, she’s practically goat her mooth wrapped aroond ma cock as we speak.

‘’That wid be magic’’ ah tell her.

Whilst diggin intae ma Jeans poacket tae produce ma moblile phone. And before ah ken it we're exchangin numbers. As easy as fuckin that. But the sense ae euphoria doesnae last. Cos then ah remind massel that ah’m gittin rid ae the wee man themorra. Ah decide tae no lit this wee detail dampen ma chances ae a ride though. Ah’ll jist tell her he shot oot in front ae bus. Cos, lits face it, such hings happen tae folks pets everyday.

As me and Bruce heid back taewards the flat ah’m quite literally skippin. ‘’There’s nae Pedigree fur you the night little yin” ah tell him “Ah’m gonnae be cookin you the biggest and juiciest fuckin stake you’ve ever seen. You done yur uncle Aldo proud, son.’’

Ah phoned every dug haime in the toon that ah could find in the yelly pages. But, alas, there wis nae takers. Ah’d left ma number wae thum, likes. Efter they assured me that they’d git in touch yince a spot opened up fur him. So, the plan wis fur Bruce tae stey wae me fur a few maire days. But these few days quickly turned intae a fortnight, cos naecunt phoned. Hing is though, ah’m no complainin. Tel yae the truth the wee guy hus actually grown oan me. And ah’m pretty sure the feelin is mutual. It’s hard tae explain, likes, but ah kin feel his love every time he looks up at me. As a result, the idea ae gittin shot ae him isnae as attractive as it yince wis. Which is why ah’ve stoapped chasin up the dug haimes.

Last Monday ah hud crashed oot in front ae the boax efter watchin Goodfellas fur the millionth time. And guess who ah woke up tae find sleepin nixt tae me oan the couch? Bruce the strange hing wis ah kind ae liked huvin him lyin nixt tae me, eh? And since that night tae this we settle doon fur a bite tae eat and we sit and watch the telly taegether. It’s become sortae a tradition fur the pair ae us, ken? He’s even started tae dae suttin which pits a smile oan ma miserable puss, n aw. Every mornin he gits up at the same time as me and follows me through tae the bathroom. And as ah’m brushin ma teeth he jist sits there patiently and watches. Then he’ll shadow me as ah prepare oor breakfast. We’ve even hud a few play dates wae that lassie Chrisitna and her dug Lara. Bruce and her git oan great taegether. And as fur me and Christina? Well, it’s still early days, of course. But it’s pretty obvious tae me that she’s jist itichin tae book her ride oan the Aldo express. Bruce hus come oan leaps and bounds these past couple ae weeks. Growin ever maire confident as each day passes. It’s no like ah want tae keep him, likes. But ah reckon it wid be almost cruel tae gee him tae someboady else. Especially since wuv jist started tae git yaist tae each other. Ah’ve even lit him sleep oan ma bed. Ah mean, ah hud tae, eh? cos anytime ah left him oan his ain at night he kept oan greetin. In ma time ah’ve hud maire dugs than a Chinese restaurant but wae Bruce it’s different. Cos unlike the times before ah hud him in ma life. Well, ah’m actually glad ah kin still remember the night before.

First hing this Thursday mornin ah goat a call fae a private number. At first ah thoat it might be that auld Mrs Henderson sendin oot another SOS call hence why ah hesitated tae answer the hing. Eventually ah caved and picked up but ah wis shocked tae hear someboady fae yin ae they dug haimes oan the other end ae the line. They wur phonin tae say they’ve goat a place fur Bruce and tae bring him up there the morn. Aw mornin ah’ve been goin oot ae ma mind tryin tae decide what tae dae fur the best and it’s probably the biggest decision ah’ve hud tae make in ma life. Obviously ah’ve been putting a brave face oan it fur the wee man as no tae alarm him. But he kens suttins up jist wae the glances ah’ve been gittin fae him. The hing is ah hate tae admit but mibbie he wid be better oaff wae a nice middle class family , fancy hoose and a fitbaw pitch sized gairden tae go wae it. It’s decided ah need tae lit him go and he needs tae furget me and this place. Fur the first time in ma life ah’ve actually put someboady before masel so why dae ah feel so shitty?. He needs tae hear this fae me ah owe him that at least

‘’Bruce, come hear, son’’ ah tell him as ah wave him oor fae his bed. Emotions are awready runnin high and ah kin feel a wee lump in ma throat. Bruce gits up fae his bed and wanders oor tae me before he jumps up oan the couch.

Starin intae his doe-eyed eyes ah find masel unable tae brek the news tae him. Finally, ah manage tae compose masel

‘’Ah want yae tae hear this fae me and no some ersehole at the park’’

He tilts his wee heid wae a worried expression spread acroass his puss

‘’We wur kiddin oorsels that this wid last’’ ah tell him if no a bit choked up. ‘’Your goin tae be livin in a dug haime fur a bit. But it’s maire like a spa, honest. Then some nice family who kin offer yae maire than ah kin will come and take yae tae yur new haime. And you’ll furget aw aboot me.

He drops doon oan the couch a depressed and defeated dug. He stares up at me and gees me a soft whimper. Ah try tae make him understand ah’m dain this fur him

‘’Listen, You’ll love it there and in nae time you’ll be wae yur new family. They’ll gee yae much better life than ah ever could.’’. Ma explanation seems tae huv fallen oan deaf ears cos he’s jist turned his back tae me .

‘’Please dinnae make this any harder than it needs tae be Bruce’’ ah plead wae him.

As he jumps doon fae the couch and makes his long walk tae his bed. There’s nae doubt he’ll no forgive me fur this but ah jist hope oor time he’ll see ah done this fur him. And tae be truthful ah feel as bad inside as he looks.

The drive up tae the ‘Dog Friendly Sanctuary’ oan the ootskirts ae the toon hus been hard fur aw concerned. Bruce hus been shakin like a leaf in the motor and the closer we’ve goatten tae oor destination the maire helpless he appears tae be. This drive hus been nae teddy bears picnic fur me neither and ah cannae git ma heid roond the fact a dug hus broat me tae near tears. Finally, we arrive and fae the ootside this place looks pretty grand. Tae soothe Bruce’s anxiety ah try tae gee him a few words ae wisdom.

‘’Bruce’’ ah sais. ‘’This is a tough situation fur baith ae us’’. Though he gees me the cauld shoulder.

Ah turn him roond tae face ma direction ‘’They’ll be bigger dugs in here but trust me their bark will be worse than their bite. Ah hud tae deal wae the same dafties in the jail. But your like me, you’re a fighter. Ah need yae tae be brave fur me, ok pal?’’

Ah git a reluctant nod fae him before we make oor wey inside.

It’s kindae impressive inside here, tae be honest. The place radiates wae a warm and welcomin vibe. Each wah is painted in bright primary colours and are thoughtfully decorated wae pictures ae baith big and wee dugs. And every picture is accompanied by written info ae how they’re rehaimed success stories. This tells me that every mut in here are loved and cared fur in exactly the same wey. And ah cannae lie. It’s reassurin. Ah kin jist imagine Bruce’s mugshot up there real soon. Efter he’s foond a ready made family who’ll spoil him rotten. A middle aged family are sittin oan the comfy lookin seats in the waitin room. Their eyes fixated oan the large widden doors opposite thum. They’re pretty much sailvatin at the mooth in excited anticipation at bein greeted by the new member ae their family. A sight that only serves tae validate the increasin belief that ah’ve indeed done the right hing. No that Bruce seems tae be buyin what this lot are sellin, likes. His heid habitually still starin doon at the shiny flair.

Suddenly, and withoot warnin, ah hear this high pitched voice comin fae behind me ‘’Sir’’ it says ‘’Can I help you?’’

As ah turn roond there’s this freckled pussed boay wae rid hair wearin a bright yelly toap wae the places logo oan it.

‘’Aye, yae kin, mate’’ ah tell him. ‘’Ah’ve broat ma dug Bruce here tae be re-haimed’’

He smiles at me ‘’You must be Mr Ali? We spoke on the phone.’’ He extends his hand oot and ah dae the same. ‘’My name is, Gordon’’ he says

‘’Aye, Pleased tae meet yae’’ ah tell him.

He soon cloacks the disinterested Bruce, who’s sat nixt tae me. And straight awey he starts fussin oor him ‘’Oh, and this must be Bruce’’ he sais. As he gees him a wee pat oan the heid. Bruce rolls his eyes and ah kin tell he’s hinkin tae himself ‘What’s this ginger cunts game?’’

He gestures fur us tae follow him intae a small office which is situated directly behind the reception desk. Where, he tells me, ah’ll be handin oor ma signature in order tae make it official that Bruce is nae longer mines. It’s a blink and yull miss it affair and before ah ken it ah’ve committed ink oan the line which is dotted. Fur ma ain piece ae mind ah’ve insisted oan takin Bruce tae his new digs. The boay leads us doon a long corridor until we reach a pair ae large domineerin doors wae a sign oan them which reads ‘Dog Kennels’. We walk in and the atmosphere turns fae Sesame Street tae suttin that wid remind yae ae ‘Silence ae the Lambs’. Oor presence in the room hus set the dugs in the kennels mental. Ah mean, honestly, they go absolutely fuckin nuts. Some even begin chargin at the metal bars while others cower and whimper in the corner. But then aw ae a sudden it hits me, eh? where’s Bruce? And as ah look back ah kin see he’s frozen tae the spot. Held there in a paralysed mixture ae fear and anxiety. It isnae until ah wave him and instruct him tae follae me that he remembers how tae yase his wee legs again. It isnae until we reach half wey doon the kennels that the ginger cretin stoaps in front ae us and announces

‘’This is it’’ motioning taewards a large and empty boax ae a room.

He opens the door and Bruce gees me a worried glance

‘’You’ll be fine, son’’ ah sais, reassuringly. And wae that Bruce enters his new haime.

He immediately slumps tae the groond. Like some deflated hoat air balloon. And as ah watch his helpless surrender ah find massel strugglin tae hud back the tears.

Ah decide tae pull this pencil pusher tae the side. Jist tae gee him a few pointers oan how he should be accommodating Bruce ‘’Listen, mate.’’ Ah tell him ‘’He’ll expect a steak everynight. But if you pit his plate doon even a minute past nine then he’ll no talk tae yae fur hours. Trust me, ah’ve been there. See, he’s goat a hing fur a lassie oan Corrie. It’s a long story. So, he’ll need a nice big telly, right? He seems tae like tae stare at her tits’’

The boays looks stunned and confused ‘’We are still talking about the dog, right?’’ he whispers

‘’Of course wur talkin aboot the fuckin dug.’’ ah snap. ‘’And his name is Bruce''

‘’Okay’’ the boay tells me. But ah sense a bit of sceptisim.

‘’And yin maire hing, mate’’ ah say ‘’If naeboady takes him in. Ah take it you guys will pamper him tae his last days?’’

Tae ma surprise, and utter disgustm the boay laughs in ma puss ‘’ No, I’m afraid not. If we can’t rehome him in six months. Then he’ll be getting a special visit from our vet’’

‘’You mean like a fuckin medical, or suttin?’’ ah ask

‘’Oh, God no’’ he tells me. ‘’He’ll be a new member of doggy heaven’’

‘’Lower yur fuckin voice, you!’’ ah scream ‘’He’s goat a gid grasp ae English!’’

He appears tae look slightly perplexed by ma revelation. And there’s suttin aboot his dismissive demeanour that no only enrages me. But it also influences me intae deciding that that wis aw jist yin big horrible mistake.

‘’Ken what, eh?’’ ah tell him ‘’Furget it. He’s comin back haime wae me. Where he belongs.’’

It’s Sunday mornin and ah’ve jist dashed roond tae the corner shoap fur some ae their juicy sausages which ah’ll be fryin up later fur oor breakfast. But jist as ah git tae the door ah find massel stood there fur a minute. Before ah take a look roond at ma surroundins. It’s strange, ken? Cos it wis ootside this shoap, at almost this very same spot, that aw ae this madness began. Ah take in this thoat and ponder it fur what seem like minutes. In reality though it wis probably only a couple ae seconds. Yit, it makes an impression oan me. And ah smile tae massel as ah enter through the shoap door.

As soon as ah git back tae the flat ah see that Bruce husnae moved a muscle. He’s been sat there in the hallway aw this time, patiently awaitin ma return.

Ah crouch doon tae rub his neck cos he loves when ah dae that fur some reason ‘’What ah gid boay you are, son’’ ah tell him. But ah’ve furgoat tae shut the front door behind me and suddenly Bruce hus cloaked this stocky tracksuit cunt passin. He immediately starts snarlin, spitefully. And aw his back hair sticks up, as if in fight mode. Ah’ve never seen Bruce reactin this wey tae anyboady. So, as ah go tae shut the door ah shout doon tae apologise tae the boay

‘’Sorry aboot the barkin, mate’’ ah tell him ‘’Ah dinnae ken what’s goat intae him’’

Aw ah git when he turns in ma directions is a set ae daggers fae the fanny. Suttin’s no sittin right wae me aboot this. He looks dodgy as fuck. So, ah lean doon tae ask Bruce outright what it is he doesnae like aboot the cunt.

‘’Bruce, dae yae ken that boay, eh? Talk tae me, son?’’ He replies in barks which grow increasingly louder. It’s a clear ‘’Oh, ah ken that bastard, awright’’ if ever there wis yin.

Ah throw ma jaiket back oan and pick up Bruce. Ah cerry him as we follae quickly in pursuit. And it’s no long before we’ve caught up. Bruce is still snarlin though so ah pit ma hands acroass his mooth tae ensure the soond he hate he’s littin oot is muted. This boay is completely unaware that wuv goat eyes oan him. Me and Bruce watchin as he turns sharpishly doon yin ae the side streets. We are fast oan his trail but as ah turn the corner, fuck me, there it is. It’s the fiat punto Bruce wis flung fae. The same exact yin.

‘’Is that you’re motor, scumbag?’’ ah shout oor tae him.

He turns, hastily ‘’Are you talkin tae me?’’ he asks.

‘’Dinnae gee me the hard ae hearin routine’’ ah sais. ‘’Is that your fuckin motor, or no?’’

He brushes me oaff ‘’Git tae fuck, ya fanny’’

Ah point tae Bruce as ah walk taewards the boay ‘’Did you throw this dug fae oot that motor a couple ae weeks back, daft cunt?’’

He smirks, knowingly. As if in appreciation ae a cherished memory ‘’Oh, that?’’ he says ‘’Ah coulda sworn it wis deed’’

‘’Bruce, son’’ ah say ‘’Cover yur eyes, pal. This is gonnae be fuckin messy’’

And believe me, eh? It wis.

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