On her first day working as an au pair at Cliff House, Kitty discovers the true colours of the family pet, Boris the Mad Belgian Malinois.
“BORIS!” I yell as the sodding animal wrenches the lead out of my hand and bounds off after a large ball that appears out of nowhere.
“Boris! Come back here NOW!”
It’s no use. I scramble after him, but he’s way too fast for me. Stopping to catch my breath, I gape in horrified fascination as he leaps so high in the air, I honestly think he’s about to sprout wings and take off. But he doesn’t. Two seconds later he lands on the well-tended grass with a soft balletic bounce, sporting the addition of a large ball in his oversized jaws.
Someone else has also witnessed the spectacle. Someone who is wearing knee-length shorts and a t-shirt with a football team logo on it. Someone who is now running towards me, red-faced, athletic, scary.
“For Christ’s sake, can’t you keep your bloody dog under control?”
The man throws me a seething look before breaking into a sprint and tearing after Boris, who is off again and well in the lead. Out of an enforced sense of duty, I reluctantly join the chase. Soon both of us are running round and round, pursuing the wild animal to the accompaniment of hoots and cheers from a gaggle of lanky boys nearby, all sporting football gear.
“C’mon, you lazy lot!” the angry athlete yells at them in a broad Yorkshire accent. “Don’t just stand there gawking!” He must have a lot of clout, because half a second later all juvenile footballers have joined in the hunt. It takes a good ten minutes before the guy finally retrieves his ball.
“Just look at the state of it!” he shouts at me before tossing the squashed thing over to a panting youngster who’s standing close by. The man himself sounds pretty out of breath. So am I. We all are. Only Boris appears to be absolutely fine, reclining on the grass and chewing a stick with the timeless air of smoking a joint.
“Well, I’m sorry,” I say, trying my utmost to remain calm, “but had it escaped your notice that this is a park, not a fucking football stadium? What do you bloody expect?”
Deep breath, count to ten, let the swear words float into oblivion, where they belong.
“What do I expect?” He takes a step closer to me, which is when I realise just how tall he is. His cheeks are still flushed, with sweaty streaks running down his tanned face. Thick strands of dirty blond hair half cover his eyes, which are a fierce burning blue. “For a start, I expect anyone who walks their dog in a park to keep it under control. Do you realise how much these footballs cost?”
“No I don’t, and I couldn’t give a toss! But if it makes you stop yelling at me, I’ll pay for the bloody thing.”
“That isn’t the point!”
“Then what is?”
“You shouldn’t be walking your dog in a park where children are playing, if you can’t flippin’ control it.”
“Excuse me, but I don’t need to be told what I should and shouldn’t be doing by a complete stranger who was never taught the first thing about manners! It isn’t even my dog!”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Then why are you blaming me, if you know it isn’t my dog? Do you like bullying people half your size? Is that what you also do with those boys over there?” I fling out my arm to the left, where the juveniles are all sprawled out on the grass after the chase: supine, knees raised, stomachs clutched, rapid breaths spewing out into the morning air.
“Those boys over there,” he says with slow, scary emphasis on each word, “are my football team. And this is our football practice. Or was supposed to be, when we still had a football to practise with.”
“What kind of trainer goes to a practice without a spare football?”
“Of course I’ve got a spare bloody football! But that isn’t the point.”
“Then would you mind once again telling me what is?”
“Gladly. It’s painfully obvious you don’t know the first thing about dogs, which is why you should never let them off the lead when in your charge.”
“Don’t you bloody preach to me! You think I willingly let the stupid animal off the lead?”
“Look, I haven’t got time for this. Just hold the lead tighter next time you decide to take a stroll in the park, all right?”
Just as I’m about to retaliate with one of my nastiest ripostes, he suddenly bends down, pats the Malinois’ furry brown head, and murmurs, “Hey, Boris, there’s a good boy. You watch out for your dog-walker in future, okay?”
What the … ?
The guy straightens himself up, turns on his heel and sprints off into the distance, waving a tanned, muscular arm to his fresh-faced acolytes as he calls out to them, “C’mon, lads! Game’s not over yet!”
The above extract is taken from my psychological drama, ‘Her Last Coherent Thought‘