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Short story

Paradise

Author & Illustration: Mark Smith

Three friends sat down to a pint in the Old White Horse. Each year since their graduation they had met, a longstanding tradition by which to compare their respective achievements. Today, they sat at a small round table, each with a pint of golden ale, and each with a dog patiently sitting under the table, waiting for errant crisps to fall.

‘Guys, every morning I take Gus out on the beach’ boasted Seb, looking down at the red-haired spaniel who panted in a little patch of sunshine. ‘He loves it there, the air is so….clean! Honestly, you should move to St.Ives. It really is the best!’ he continued triumphantly.

‘Well you can’t beat the history and architecture of Cambridge’ chipped in Troy, a college professor, who had an irritating habit of pointing with one arm of his glasses when making a point. ‘Not to mention the pubs – we wouldn’t move for the world, would we Bruce?’ He reached down to stroke the collie’s silky ears.

‘This beer’s nice’ said Dan. Dan lived in Luton.

 Under the table the three dogs were listening to their owners.

‘Pfft, I love the beach do I?!’ Said Gus, incredulously. ‘Do you know how annoying it is getting sand up your nose and nappies stuck to your ears? I have to have a bath every day because my coat gets ruined!!’

The other two dogs solemnly nodded.

‘And do you know how many fucking bikes there are in Cambridge?!’ exclaimed Bruce, an ill-tempered border collie ‘one of the fuckers almost took me out just yesterday, and I swear to God if I get evils from another Big issue dog I’m going to hire a punting boat and punt my way out of that hell hole’

The two dogs looked at Jan expectantly. She was Dan’s dog, a Golden Retriever.

‘Well, my friends, let me tell you of a place I call heaven. A paradise where MEAT literally lines the streets.’ The other two dogs leaned in a little closer ‘That’s right. It’s called doner meat, and every Saturday and Sunday morning on my walkies I have the most incredible feast. Cheesy chips, chicken burgers, vomit – it’s incredible!!’

Seb loaded Gus into the back of his Audi A3.

Troy loaded Bruce, rather reluctantly, into his Land Rover

They both watched on as Jan tugged on her lead, desperate for Dan to take her back to paradise.

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