Dog scratched the back of his shoulder, his all-black glasses jammed tight to his face. Bug-like. Giving away nothing. His stump-toothed yawn the only hint to what was going on inside.
We’d known each other about three years, Dog and I. He’d been there when I woke up in the street one day. Offering me a smoke and a piece of gum he’d liberated from a table somewhere. Saying he’d not seen who’d stolen my roll from under me, only that he’d give me the use of his while he was up and foraging for something edible. We’d hung about a while then: me showing him my places; the best place to sit when it rained, the rest-rooms that stayed unlocked longest, the diner with the sympathetic manager who gave us the cleanings off’n the plates that would otherwise have been tossed in the dumpster each night.
And then one day he’d gone.
I just came round one day, cursing my luck like I always do, spending the first three hours of the day trying to warm myself. Stomping about and looking out for cops. Needing to move but not wanting to be seen. Scrounging about for food or whatever I could guilt out of the folks coming out of the coffee house. Sometimes I got lucky. Sometimes the police came first. Either way I got warmer - either from whatever drink I could get someone to buy for me or from the exercise I got running away.
And then I saw Dog again. Same bug-eyed glasses. Same overcoat with a sleeve missing. Same attitude as he always had. Only this time he’d got a dog with him. A scrawny bugger with mange. And the dog was just as bad.