Saturday, March 17, 2018

2014 Christmas Contest: The Many Definitions of Shelter

December 29, 2014 by  
Filed under 2014 Christmas, Contests

by Anthony Wobbe

My Bio is extremely boring.  Father of six, lovely wife, terrible job for which I am thankful.  Writing is somewhere between a pastime and passion for me.  A few published credits and a few dollars from a contest or two.  I sincerely hope you enjoy what I’ve submitted.  And while it doesn’t deal with  the Christ child specifically, it deals directly with the reason for his birth.  Merry Christmas.

The Many Definitions of Shelter

It was just the three of us at the dog park for the first half hour that Christmas morning; we arrived early.  I was startled by an old homeless man who suddenly appeared through the fog and sat on the bench next to me.  He smelled of urine and sweat but his smile was peaceful.

His “good morning” was a simple nod in my direction just before he lowered his gaze to my two year old son, who was playing with his toy cars on a small mound of dirt at my feet.

After a few still moments he spoke.

“You didn’t have a dog growin’ up did ya?”

‘Damn’ I thought.  ‘It was clear even to the homeless that I was a novice dog owner.’  Baxter was the previous year’s Christmas gift; my first dog… and he loves the dog park.   He’s an odd mix of something beige and hairy and something huge, beige and hairy, and although he was “fixed” it doesn’t stop him from trying to mount every other dog in the park, regardless of gender, which makes my son belly laugh.  We rescued him from a puppy mill about a year prior, just two days before he was scheduled to be put down.  His personality is bouncy and grateful; I think he knows we saved his life.

“Not that I remember.”  I said, staring at the ground.  “My parents wouldn’t let us have a pet growin’ up.”

“That’s a real shame” he said.  “A boy oughta have a dog.  It’s one of them epiphany’s you have about life after it’s too late.  If I could do it all over again, I’m sure I’da got my kids a dog.  I suppose you can tell I wasn’t much of a father.”

I slowly brought my stare from the ground to his eyes.

“I don’t know anything about you” I said.  “Judgment ain’t my thing; you lookin’ for some money?”

“Oh no…no sir…appreciate it though.

I pressed him further.  “You got a dog now?  Come here a lot do ya?”

“Nah, still dogless…but I’m thinking about comin’ here a lot more.”

My suspicion heightened as I continued to look in his eyes.

“I wouldn’t” I said.  “I’m new to this park, but I’m starting to know the folks who come here; maybe not the best of places for a guy like you.   I guarantee you’d make more money hustlin’ downtown.”

“A guy like me huh?”  A defeated smile crept across his face.

“I understand” he said. “I won’t bother you further.  Your son is beautiful.  What’s his name?”

“I named him Richard…call him Ricky.”

His smile rebounded.  “Richard huh; that’s my name.”

I stood slowly and started packing up, motioning to my son it was time to go.

“I know it is dad…that’s why I gave it to him.  Merry Christmas.”



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