The night was young and so were Charlene and Jo who were already in the taxi on their way to the “Demure”.

“Let me take care of that smudged mascara, girl, the grunge look is long forgotten in the history of fashion”, Jo was lovingly correcting Charlene’s eye makeup on the backseat of the taxi. 

“Ha-ha, very funny, Jo, first you make me sweat by hurrying me to get into the taxi so that you don’t wait a minute. Next, you want me to look decent because it was your own fault to look messy in the first place!” 

The driver threw quick glances at them: he loved when he had funny customers that aren’t annoying. Most of them were annoying while trying to be funny. 

Very few customers were wrapped in their intimate world to precisely the extent which helped them sense the amount of sharing he appreciated and throw an inside joke or two that kept him amused, as well. It was the fine line of taxi etiquette when the riders understood how to avoid polluting that tiny blurry space of the shared car. These girls were the type of company that made his job more bearable. Weekends were a good moment for the business and this Friday night was his chance to make some money.

 As much as he hated the crowds and the drunken club visitors at 4 am, he loved the stray dogs that kept him company while he was waiting for customers. He often bought pretzels and bagels, eating only one half and giving the other half to whatever dog was around. He already made good friends with some of them, especially with that stray mixed corgi he loved. It had quite a character and wasn’t as timid as some other dogs that simply grabbed the food and rushed away to eat in safety. In contrast, the corgi wasn’t as trusting as the others that frequently got kicked by drunk or drugged party-goers. In fact, he was quite aggressive towards them. The driver knew there was a reason for it and let the dog pull down his guard naturally. 

Shark and the taxi driver were true friends, as much as the corgi could trust another human being before the inhabitation experiment began and after Matias betrayed him.  

“Aw, you were in a rush to get here quickly, that’s so sweet, Char, but that doesn’t do anything for how you lo… What the heck, man, learn how to drive and then get your taxi license!” Jo bumped with her forehead into the front seat, yelling at the poor man who pulled the brakes in a jiffy and got out of the car breathing heavily. 

He wanted to see the result of the thud. 

“What was that? That can’t be good. It can’t be a human! It was too small for a human! Oh God, I hope it isn’t a child, no child would wander alone this late at night, right?” 

The driver prayed for the best as he was walking to the front of the car. The two seconds from his car seat to the front bumper seemed endless. He sighed in relief when he saw the white spitz conscious and licking its paw. There was no blood and no signs of broken bones. Luckily, he was driving slow, so the damage couldn’t have been that devastating. 

“Oh, you poor thing, how did you manage to get in front of the car all of a sudden?”, the driver spoke aloud, communicating with the dog as if it were a person. 

Jo and Charlene got out of the car, too, Jo speechless, and Charlene rushing to get to the dog to see if the white furry ball that was now more grey than white was going to survive. 

And there was Pixie, lying on the ground sideways, leaning her head against the healthy paw, and charmingly looking at Charlene, while reaching with the hurt paw to the girl’s face: she was saying hello. That hello was love at first love for Charlene, for whom one look at the dog’s loving eyes was enough to be instantly bewitched. 

“Ohh, girl, what are you doing wandering on the streets this late at night? Don’t you have someone taking care of you? Where is our owner? Is this huge bone yours? Where did you get it? You shouldn’t be eating everything that’s left on the street, it could be rotten or poisoned”, Charlene took the femur bone that was next to the lying dog and threw it in the nearby trash bin.

“You are homeless, right? I’m so sorry, girl. does it hurt?” Charlene’s eyes welled up in tears as the taxi driver was already preparing the back seat to take the dog to the vet.

“Come on, I have to take her to the vet. There is no visible bone fracture, so I hope she will be fine. I know an open vet clinic, it’s just a few blocks away, I will take her there. Let me find a colleague of mine to take you to the club: sorry about the incident, I have no idea how the dog ended up there!”

“No, no, I’m coming with you! I want to confirm she is fine. I can’t just go out and have fun all night while she is struggling. I want to make sure she will be alright. Let’s go, Jo, we can continue our night of fun later, let’s help the dog now!” Char rushed her friend, who was in-between the disappointment that their carefully planned night may be over and the awareness that they have a wounded dog in dire need of help in front of them.

“She is going to be okay”, Jo comforted Charlene as they sat next to the dog at the back of the car, wrapping Pixie in a blanket the driver pulled from the trunk. 

Charlene took off her trench coat and made a soft pillow for Pixie’s head as they were driving on their way to the vet clinic.

“What’s your name, sir? I have to put a name on the submission form, in case someone comes and looks for her”. James, Phillips’s dad was looking at the driver.

“It’s Stan. Stanley Hutson.”

“Stanley Hudson? Like “The Office” character? I love that show.”

“It’s Hutson, with a “T”. I’m Irish.”

“Okay, sir. The dog will be fine. It’s nothing more than a scratch, it seems. I disinfected the paw and took an X-ray to check her spine. Will you be paying for the dog’s treatment? Since she is not chipped and no owner has been reported, I will give you a discount. The X-ray is one me. But she will have to stay here for at least 48 hours to make other necessary checks, give her vaccines, and wash her. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it alone and I have help coming only during the week”, James said.

“That’s okay, I don’t mind paying for her. As long as she is okay”, the taxi driver had problems making ends meet and wondered if he has money for this at all.

But Charlene jumped in and saved the day: 

“Let us split the bill. We were there, too, so I’d like to help, please.” 

She saw the worried looks on the driver’s face lighten up in a hopeful smile. 

“Sure, thanks, I appreciate that!”

“Some people have so very little and are still so generous. For others, nothing is enough”, she thought in her head, as a few of her co-workers came to mind, including Daniel.

The bill was settled.

Pixie remained silent and happy. Everything was going well. As for this being her first task, what she pulled off was incredibly risky.

Thankfully, she didn’t tell anyone about it, or they would’ve stopped her. She waited for Charlene’s taxi to come from behind the corner and threw the big bone in front of the wheels. The big thud from the bone bumping into the car was followed by a swift screech of the car brakes. Pixie had only seconds to run next to the bone, lie down, and act hurt. She knew that Charlene wouldn’t leave her on the street under the suspicion that she was injured. She did scratch her paw trying to hurry up, but it was nothing: she has seen worse, much worse on the streets.

Featured Image Credit: Lynn Greyling from Pixabay 

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