Dog Hair 🐾
love it when the trains are fucked and I arrive at the company late but with an excuse that is easily verified by local travel updates. I have just about enough time for a coffee and my morning shit before lunchtime comes around. So, I was overcome with happiness when someone threw themselves on the tracks this morning and I didn’t get in until after 10:45.
Trailing a cloud of dog hair in her wake Louise is printing pictures of her twin chocolate Labradors, Baby Tina and Princess Grace. She’s using the high quality paper stock ordinarily reserved for termination letters. There was a fresh delivery of the paper on Monday, in preparation for what Bradley calls ‘the rolling of heads.’
Louise calls Baby Tina and Princess Grace her fur babies. Louise had tried to marry their father, Monsieur Cuddles, but this was not legally possible. It seems there’s just no way to really know if a dog agrees to that. And how do you even begin to explain the concept of matrimony to a dog? The answer is you can’t. She was very disappointed, of course. She said she knew in her bones that Monsieur Cuddles loved her. About a week after she had scheduled the wedding to take place Monsieur Cuddles died. Louise claimed it was of a broken heart but I think it was cancer. Do dogs get cancer? I think they do and it’s an awful shame I’m sure. Still, you’ve got to admire their brief but brilliant lives.
Louise is entering Baby Tina and Princess Grace into a competition called PERFECTLY PRETTY PUPS run by a local newspaper with a dwindling circulation. It is true that print media is dying and that’s another awful shame too. Regardless of its tiny and admittedly apathetic readership it’s still very important to Louise that Baby Tina and Princess Grace win the prize, hence the risk she’s taking by stealing company property in the form of the expensive company paper used to tell people they are no longer employed by the company.
“You see the thing is” Louise says “I can’t have children of my own, can I? Insides are all torn up, ain’t they?”
Dog hair falling from her cuffs Louise rubs the place where she thinks her womb is and stares aggressively at me.
“Ain’t they”? she insists.
“Well I suppose so Louise.”
“Not that I ever met the right man anyway. There was only ever Monsieur Cuddles.”
She stares into the middle distance and pretends she’s crying.
Natasha from Accounts comes by to say that the termination paper cost a pretty penny and in order to recoup the costs someone will have to be terminated. By this time Louise has used in excess of 50% of the paper printing pictures of Baby Tina and Princess Grace and the pile of dog hair around the printer reaches my ankles.
Of course as luck would have it Bradley is allergic to pet hair. When he touches the printer his hand swells and starts to look like the sort of novelty foam hand I’ve seen Americans wear in films where they go to sporting events. After touching his face his eyelids swell closed, the last thing he sees being the depleted stack of termination paper.
“Where the fuck is the paper Nicole?”
“Where the fuck?”
“Paper, Nicole, paper?”
He’s screaming at me but as it turns out my name isn’t Nicole so I just stand there looking at him as he flaps his giant hand in the air, causing a draught that upsets Louise’s stack of Baby Tina and Princess Grace pictures. Obviously panicked, she gathers up the fluttering pile of pictures and neatly places them on top of the remaining termination paper, giving the impression that none of it has been used and that what Bradley saw previously was an optical illusion brought on by a severe allergic reaction to the printer.
Bradley’s PA Paula rubs anti-histamine cream into his eyes and, judging by the screams, it does sting somewhat. Amidst his cries and wails she leads him back to his office where he falls asleep on his bespoke leather sofa for the rest of the afternoon, desperately trying to suck on his oversized thumb.
At the end of the day, wearing protective gloves and mask, Bradley hands me an envelope. When I open it I can feel the paper is very high quality. I rub its creamy thickness between the index finger and thumb of my right hand. Looking down I see I am rubbing a picture of Princess Grace sniffing at Baby Tina. Turning it over I can see written on the reverse, in Bradley’s barely legible script, the legend: YOU ARE NO LONGER EMPLOYED BY THE COMPANY. I suppose the trains will be delayed tomorrow too.
About the author
Victoria Manifold is a writer from County Durham, currently living in Sydney. She has been published by The White Review, Hotel, tNY Press, Synchronise Witches Press, Doll Hospital Journal, and Witchcraft Mag, among others. In 2016 she was shortlisted for The White Review Short Story Prize and won the inaugural BBC Anim8 competition.
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