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    Defiance19
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Shorts and Prompts - 2. O. Henry Short Story Prompt 3 - Hour Of The Dogman

The third of AC's prompt challenges. The prompt can be found in the link below.
http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/42316-o-henry-short-story-prompt-3-%E2%80%93-hour-of-the-dogman/

Sam panted down the crowded sidewalk, his steps heavy and tired. It was like the day was conspiring against him. The evening rush-hour train had been late again, and the car he'd entered was crowded. He was sweltering by the time he arrived at his stop, and he'd had to squeeze through the unmoving crowd to exit. Usually, even though it was a two-minute walk to his building, he avoided the Broadway stop because of how congested it was, but he was running late. The pedestrians ahead of him seemed to crisscross his every step, making it nearly impossible to speed up his gait. Two minutes felt like two hours. Of course it was mainly the sightseeing tourists who had no idea that there was a minimum speed requirement on foot traffic.

He sighed deeply, wondering when he had become so citified. It had only been four years since he let Geoff convince him to leave the quieter, country suburb of Suffolk.

Before he knew it, he had arrived at his building. Pulling open the heavy doors, he waved hello to the smiling, uniformed doorman.

“You getting Wilmer, Mr. Sam?”

“You know I am, Smalls.”

Smalls, who was actually quite a large man, only smiled. The elevator dinged and Sam stepped into the cab, pressing the button that would take him to his fifth-floor apartment.

When the elevator opened, Sam heard the faint whining beyond his door. He automatically looked at his watch. He was only eight minutes late. Ignoring the wave of resentment that roiled through him, he let himself in. Immediately, Wilmer started growling his displeasure, and his pacing barely allowed Sam enough time to deposit his satchel on the entry table before attempting to attach the waiting leash to his collar. Finally managing to hold the terrier still, he grabbed the poop scoop and waste bag, turned right around, and they headed back down to the lobby.

Wilmer pulled the leash toward Smalls. He knew the man always had a treat for him before he went out. Sam never saw the overweight beast so animated, except for when Geoff entered the apartment after work. The dog never lifted his head to greet Sam and often acted like Sam’s presence offended him.

Making their way onto the street, Wilmer led Sam down Amsterdam Ave. They would walk two blocks before Wilmer decided it was time to head back.

Sam tried to shake the heaviness that settled on his shoulders and threatened to overwhelm him. Geoff had called and he was going to be late again tonight. This had been going on for the past two months. A new client, he had said. So, it was dinner for one, just as soon as Wilmer was tended to. It was hard not to be bitter. He hadn’t the luxury of relaxing after coming home from work, because Wilmer had been sitting in the apartment all day.

Days like today reminded him why he preferred sedate country life. Geoff had wanted the city life so badly. The city was where they needed to be to get noticed, to move up and make a way for themselves. You'll thank me later, he told Sam. But at what cost? Sam let his eyes drift up to the buildings around him. He wasn’t unhappy, but he wasn’t happy either. As a journalist, he could easily work freelance from anywhere. Being seen and known wasn’t as important to him. It worked better for Geoff, who was thriving as a junior partner in his law firm.

A yip brought him back to the present. Wilmer was in a snarl and stare-down with yet another dog. This time it was a teacup Yorkie, perfectly outfitted in a purple sequined tutu.

“I'm so sorry,” Sam offered in apology. The man glared and shielded his frilly ball of fur away from Wilmer’s fangs. So. Dramatic. Then again, Wilmer did look terrifying.

If they’d had a house, the dog would have been in its own back yard where he could run off the extra blubber. That was another thing. Sam wanted a home. He stopped broaching the subject because Geoff always had an excuse as to why the time wasn’t right. It was never the right time for marriage-talk either. He looked around him as Wilmer waddled, stopping for the hundredth time, still undecided on which patch of dirt would be a good pee spot. There were other men wearing the same weary expression, being led by their four legged beings. He wondered if they were as dissatisfied as he felt. He let the tugging of the leash direct him back to the apartment.

 

“Sam? Sam Telfair?” The voice startled Sam. It was one he knew too well.

“Jim Berry. As I live and breathe.”

The two men embraced long and hard. Jim stepped back first, losing his balance and having to be caught at the elbows by Sam. It was followed by a delicate stepping over and out of the leash that had somehow entangled the men. Wilmer looked on with a smirk.

They spoke simultaneously: “What are you doing…?" “What is that…?"

“Sorry, sorry. You first.” Sam laughed.

“I was on my way to your apartment actually. It’s the last day of a vendor expo and I looked you up. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a visit once I saw how close I was.” Jim beamed with pleasure.

“Let’s go this way then. There’s a great outdoor bar where we can catch up.” Sam led Jim away from the apartment toward the bar, not quite knowing why he didn’t want to have Jim in his apartment.

Jim fell in step and the two men remained silent until they were seated. They ordered their drinks and Jim was the first to break the silence.

“So, the old ball and chain back at the apartment?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“What?” Sam responded, confused until he realized what Jim was getting at. “No, no. The only ball and chain I’m tied to is this….” He inclined his chin at Wilmer, who promptly responded with a growl.

“What is that anyway? I remember you always wanted a big dog. I can’t quite see you playing fetch with that.”

Sam felt himself bristle a bit. “Wilmer is a bull terrier. He’s just a bit overweight, but he’s all right.” When had he started defending the dog? “So,” he continued, “the furniture business is going good I take it?”

“It’s going great.” Jim took a swig of his beer. “We just started selling to a small business upstate, and so far so good. Dad’s about to retire though.”

“How is your dad?” Sam asked with a smile.

“He’s well, but slowing down, you know. He’s going to be happy I saw you. Still talks about how often you’d show up at the workshop, but had no interest in woodwork. If only he knew.”

The two laughed loudly at the memories from so long ago. Sam and Jim had been so into each other, that Sam took any opportunity he could to see Jim. Back then it was was idyllic, as they talked about what a future could be like for them. Then Sam went to grad school, leaving Jim behind. In that second year he had met Geoff, who turned his world upside down. It was hard seeing Jim around town, but they’d made plans not promises. Within two years after graduation Sam and Geoff had packed up and left the sleepy suburb for the big city.

Now, as they traded stories on their present lives. Listening to Jim talk about the success that he had found in that same little town, Sam wondered if he had given up too easily. If he and Jim could have had that future he wanted with Geoff, but for which Geoff seemed reluctant. He wondered what it would be like to stroll through a quiet neighborhood, drink actual coffee, and not the double shot, half-sweet, soy latte crap he was used to.

He listened to Jim and his heart filled with longing.

“Hey, where did you go?” Jim nudged him. Sam smiled wistfully. “I miss that life. The city has its advantages, but I miss that easy, laid-back life.”

Jim looked at his watch. “You know, you can always come back if you want. ” He quickly drained his beer, and looked intently at Sam. “What’s really keeping you here? You’re not married so, no strings.”

Sam opened his mouth to object, but Jim stopped him. “I’ve got to get to Penn for my train.” He stood, the chair scraping behind him as he did. “Just think about it, Sammy.” He hugged Sam again, kissing him lightly on the cheek. “You can always come home.”

He watched Jim walk away until he couldn’t see him anymore. The question reverberated in Sam’s mind. What really was keeping him in the city? A loud bark from Wilmer made him stop suddenly, just in time to see the startled squirrel scamper away. Sam regarded the dog seriously, ignoring the insistent tugging. Then he laughed.

“You foolish ingrate,” he muttered with a bit of affection to the dog.

Suddenly in a hurry to get home, he firmly gripped the leash, leaving Wilmer plodding behind disagreeably. He silently thanked Jim for helping him see through the fog he’d been buried in.

 

 

For the second time that day Sam turned the lock to let himself into the apartment. Nothing was different except for the delicious aroma filling the space. Stunned, he looked down at Wilmer, who looked back as if to say, “Who’s the ingrate now?”

“Geoff?” he called out.

Geoff met him halfway and wrapped himself into his arms, and Sam fired off questions.

“What’s going on? What is all this. I thought you were working late?”

“Slow down, Sam.” Geoff practically giggled. “It’s called a surprise, and I have been working late partly because of it.”

Seeing his lover’s confusion he continued, “Come, sit. I’ll explain it all.”

Sam tugged at Geoff’s sleeve to keep him in place. “You know I love you, right?”

Wordlessly, Geoff led Sam to the set table. “I know, Sam. I love you too,” he said tenderly. “It might look like I’ve not been paying attention, but I’ve seen the light go out of your eyes a bit, and I think I know why and how to fix it.”

Sam slowly opened the envelope that Geoff handed him, not knowing what to expect. He looked over the paper at Geoff, his hands shaking, eyes unbelieving. It was a picture of a cabin that sat on what looked like acres of woods, with a magnificent view.

Geoff hastened to explain. “It’s in Greene County, and it’s ours. I know you miss the country. So I thought this was a good compromise. I arranged for a lighter caseload so we can spend all our free time out there. It also makes a great wedding venue." He ended in a huff, "Most likely it will be better for Willy too.”

Sam’s mouth moved soundlessly, and Geoff was beginning to worry, until that mouth closed over his.

“So, good then?”

“Great.” Sam nodded happily. “There’s so much to talk about.”

 

Later, Sam slid from their bed and made his way to the bathroom. On the way back he stopped at Wilmer’s plush dog bed and stooped to pet him. Wilmer opened one eye and emitted a low growl.

“I get it, dog. But there was never any doubt in my mind that I was right where I belonged. You can’t get rid of me so easily.”

Wilmer opened both eyes and cocked his head sideways. Sam slipped his hand between the dog’s ears and he gently rubbed the spot.

“That’s right. I love Geoff, and home is wherever he is, and you too…Willy.”

Wilmer moved so quickly that Sam only felt the nip to his fingers minutes later. There was no damage, so Sam walked away shaking his head.

“I guess I deserved that.”

Everything was as it should be.

Thanks AC, for another fun prompt. Thank you for your editing magic too..
Any errors I missed are my own fault, but don't let that stop you from telling me what you thought..
Copyright © 2017 Defiance19; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Def this was so good. Loved it. I'm so glad that Geoff realized Sam was not into city life. The compromise he came up with was wonderful.
Great story... hugs
tim xoxo

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Thank you for writing such an engaging story. Your Sam and Geoff found a way to draw together...Geoff wasn't trying to drift away, not really. Geoff's way out was really good. and I loved the way you close with a conversation with Willy, of course.

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I loved this, Def! I really did. A relationship is seldom a bed of roses. But it isn't something to throw away in a whim or because of a bad week or a bad month. I'd like to think Sam was going to make his issues with their life known, but that Geoff beat him to it. I see relationships as an elastic band that gets stretched before it needs to snap back into place, and you display that here so beautifully... and I like the personality you show in fat Willy... he matters too... :worship: Cheers, my friend... you did great... Gary....

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On 11/27/2016 05:05 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Def this was so good. Loved it. I'm so glad that Geoff realized Sam was not into city life. The compromise he came up with was wonderful.

Great story... hugs

tim xoxo

Yay! It makes me so happy that you thought it was good and you loved it. I didn't think they had a good enough excuse to break up so the compromise felt right.

 

Thanks tim, your support is much appreciated.. xoxo

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On 11/27/2016 05:54 AM, Parker Owens said:

Thank you for writing such an engaging story. Your Sam and Geoff found a way to draw together...Geoff wasn't trying to drift away, not really. Geoff's way out was really good. and I loved the way you close with a conversation with Willy, of course.

Geoff let himself get caught up and forgot for a second what was important. They figured it out though. And Willy is just trying to steal the show..

 

Thank you so much for reading and leaving a review Parker..

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On 11/27/2016 07:06 AM, Headstall said:

I loved this, Def! I really did. A relationship is seldom a bed of roses. But it isn't something to throw away in a whim or because of a bad week or a bad month. I'd like to think Sam was going to make his issues with their life known, but that Geoff beat him to it. I see relationships as an elastic band that gets stretched before it needs to snap back into place, and you display that here so beautifully... and I like the personality you show in fat Willy... he matters too... :worship: Cheers, my friend... you did great... Gary....

You're right. Sam was probably on his way to put it all on the table with Geoff. I didn't think there was enough for Sam to walk away from, so Geoff's compromise came at the right time.

 

Thank you Gary, for your insightful comments. I'm glad that you loved this piece.You warm my heart with your words..

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On 11/27/2016 11:22 AM, dughlas said:

This is really good Def. Geoff was far more perceptive than Sam realized.

That turned out to be a good thing for them...

 

Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment Dugh. I always appreciate your thoughts.

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I like the start. O. Henry's short stories can be grouped into two types: his Western settings, and his New York tales. He'd love and appreciate your setup here with the crowed subway car, and the pedestrians who walk too slowly. All classic New York elements ;)

 

I also really appreciate how you handled Sam's personality. Yes, he has his thoughts of maybe it'd be better to live someplace else, but when he becomes incensed by Jim's comment concerning the dog, Sam comes alive for me. Sure, he may not like 'Willy' much himself, but the beast is family, and he'll stand up for him. That's good setup for Jim taking the initiate and telling Sam to walk away from his life with Geoff. Sam's reaction is a hot one, again, making him real for me.

 

The end is so touching, and works like a charm. The moment the door opened and the smell of food was there, my heart leapt for joy.

 

I love your version of Dogman. Well done!

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Very true how ordinary life can lose it's appeal if you're not careful. Drifting apart is all too easy and any relationship needs work, no matter what Hollywood or fairytale tell us. So I guess Sam is stuck with Wilmer. Like that one uncle we all have. A bit grumpy, not very nice actually, but family nonetheless. And once in a while, that uncle tells us a truth or two.

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On 11/28/2016 04:53 AM, AC Benus said:

I like the start. O. Henry's short stories can be grouped into two types: his Western settings, and his New York tales. He'd love and appreciate your setup here with the crowed subway car, and the pedestrians who walk too slowly. All classic New York elements ;)

 

I also really appreciate how you handled Sam's personality. Yes, he has his thoughts of maybe it'd be better to live someplace else, but when he becomes incensed by Jim's comment concerning the dog, Sam comes alive for me. Sure, he may not like 'Willy' much himself, but the beast is family, and he'll stand up for him. That's good setup for Jim taking the initiate and telling Sam to walk away from his life with Geoff. Sam's reaction is a hot one, again, making him real for me.

 

The end is so touching, and works like a charm. The moment the door opened and the smell of food was there, my heart leapt for joy.

 

I love your version of Dogman. Well done!

Your review is perfect. I am happy you connected to it in a good way. It makes me feel like a hit a few right notes on this. Including the NYC setup! :-)

 

I think in the end things turned out well for Sam and Geoff. When Sam stood up for Will, was when I was sure it wouldn't end with Jim so I'm glad that worked for you too.

 

 

Thank you for providing prompts that inspire us. Thank you for all your help and encouragement... I appreciate it ever so much.

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On 11/28/2016 09:22 AM, Puppilull said:

Very true how ordinary life can lose it's appeal if you're not careful. Drifting apart is all too easy and any relationship needs work, no matter what Hollywood or fairytale tell us. So I guess Sam is stuck with Wilmer. Like that one uncle we all have. A bit grumpy, not very nice actually, but family nonetheless. And once in a while, that uncle tells us a truth or two.

Puppi, I love this review. Your analogy about the uncle is great and Sam is stuck with Willy. Lol.. They now need to work through their stuff...

 

Thank you for reading and for supporting my efforts. So very appreciated.

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