As I researched my first novel, NO BRAKES: ON THE WING, it became clear I needed to include some romantic scenes. Did you know that Romance is the most popular novel genre? Even crime fiction writers are spicing up their stories with romantic elements. Money talks and book readers buy Romance.
So I wrote some romantic scenes, hoping it would help the sale of my debut novel. Reluctantly, I might add. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family where romantic displays between my parents were kept to hugs and pecks. Surprise! Surprise! I discovered that writing romantic scenes was fun. I’ve toyed with writing a romance novel and decided to start with a short story. It’s titled, “The Hot Dog,” and is 800 words. Tell me what you think.
THE HOT DOG
I first noticed him at a college football game. He was playing Frisbee in a grassy area adjacent to the bleachers. He had glossy, black hair that shined in the sunlight. After entertaining the crowd with athletic catches, he relaxed with a group of doting college girls. I wanted to meet him. My introverted nature began to harp its usual caution.
Nothing unnerves me more than trying to make small talk. After a few words, I go mute. People don’t appreciate good listeners – they want to be entertained by charming, effervescent people. That’s not me. My shy personality hinders me from going after what my heart wants.
Not this time, I vowed. Today I was going to plow through my fears and approach this handsome stranger. How could I lure his attention from the throng of female admirers? I spotted the concession stand. Hot dogs! I purchased two. I maneuvered through the crowd.
A pretty co-ed blocked my path. “Is he yours?”
“Of course,” I said, shrugging her off.
When I sat beside him, I warmed to his soft, chestnut eyes.
“I have an extra hot dog,” I said. “Want it?”
He ate it in nothing flat. I laughed from my belly. He didn’t mind when I nicknamed him “Oscar.”
I began talking. For once in my life, the words rolled from my tongue. Oscar listened to every word. Before long, I was touching him while I spoke. He seemed comfortable with the intimacy I had never risked before. When the football game ended, Oscar walked me home. He stayed.
For the next two months, Oscar spoiled me. I no longer had to be the listener – I could gab all I wanted. He paid close attention while I read him my English literature essays and practiced my Power Point presentations. Oscar never criticized or laughed at my mistakes. When I returned from a day of classes, he was thrilled to see me.
Meals were my favorite part of the day. Oscar relished every morsel I prepared. After dinner we’d cuddle on the sofa and watch television. I’d think about how lucky I was that he’d picked me. I grew to love him with all my heart. I knew he loved me. He told me so with his kisses.
No matter what the weather, we took nightly walks in the neighborhood surrounding the campus. Rain, snow, sleet – it didn’t matter. It was fun being together. Except once. He’d left my side to go exploring. Suddenly, two men materialized in front of me. One displayed a knife while the other ordered me silent. My mouth went dry, I couldn’t scream. My legs froze, I couldn’t run. I knotted my fists to fight back.
Oscar appeared. I’d never seen that look in his eyes or heard that tone in his voice. Dangerous. Fierce. Menacing. I knew he would kill the men to protect me. They knew it, too, and bolted. Afterwards, I fell to my knees. Oscar comforted me while I sobbed out my terror.
Two weeks passed. There was a knock on my door. The day I had been dreading had arrived – Oscar was going to leave. I opened the door with tears in my eyes.
“I’m Steve,” said a man with glossy, black hair. “Are you Sara?”
“Yes. Please come – ”
Oscar flew through the living room and leaped at Steve, knocking him onto the front stoop. Steve put his arms around Oscar. They rolled around on the stoop while I stared speechless.
“I missed you, buddy,” Steve said between Oscar’s licks and kisses. Oscar’s tail thumped against the railing. Eventually, Oscar allowed Steve to get to his feet and come inside.
Steve shook my hand. “I don’t know how to thank you. Somehow he got out of my backyard. I’ve been looking all over for him. Then I saw your ad in the paper.”
I swallowed my sorrow. Sometimes doing the right thing is too darned hard.
“What’s his name?” I said, half-choking on the tears caught in my throat
“Lucky.” Steve wiped his eyes. “You know, he really is a lucky dog. He found you.”
I had to get away. I didn’t want to start bawling. “I’ll go get his things.”
Lucky trailed me into the kitchen. After I gathered his food, toys, and leash, I knelt in front of him and stroked his face.
“I love you,” I whispered. I ended my good-bye with a kiss on Lucky’s forehead. When I stood, I discovered that Steve was behind me.
“Sara…um…sorry, I’m not very good at this.” Steve’s face turned a slight shade of pink. “Will you have dinner with me?”
“Yes, I’d like that.”
“Great!” he said. His soft, chestnut eyes were dancing. “What kind of food do you like?”
Photos by Geoff Scott (football), ED (street) and Eiliv Sonas Aceron (hotdog stand) on Unsplash.