Groke; to stare at somebody while they’re eating in the hope they’ll share.
Monday morning found Sutcliff back at his office desk working hard. He had a meeting before lunch which over ran, so he arrived at Park Square later then normal. The area was less busy as most people had all ready gone back to work. Sutcliff was grateful for the extra quiet, that meeting had been intense.
Getting out his lunch box, he opened it and picked up half of a beef and horseradish sandwich. He heard a whining at his feet and looked down. The little brown and white dog was back!
‘Get lost,’ Sutcliff grumbled.
The dog cried as Sutcliff took a bite of the sandwich.
‘Where’s your owner?’ Sutcliff asked.
The dog yowled and pressed a paw to Sutcliff’s shoe.
‘If I give you a bit will you leave me in peace?’
Sutcliff took another bite of the sandwich then give the rest to the dog. The dog ducked under the bench and Sutcliff heard chewing sounds from underneath him. He ate the rest of his lunch in peace then went back to work.
The next day it was raining. Sutcliff sat on the bench under his umbrella and had his lunch. Just as he was wondering where the little dog was, he saw the dog entering the park and trotting over to him. The dog stopped at his feet and looked up pleadingly with sad eyes.
Sutcliff signed, ‘it’s just cheese today,’ he said.
The dog cried and shivered, the rain was dripping off it’s soaked fur.
Sutcliff opened the second half of the sandwich and give the chunk of cheese to the dog. The cheese was gone in seconds then the dog went under the bench. Sutcliff looked down and saw the little dog curled up there, behind his legs, sheltered from the rain. Sutcliff finished his lunch and went back to work.
The rest of the week, the same thing happened at lunchtimes. Sutcliff wasn’t sure how the dog knew what time he’d be at Park Square for but the dog was always waiting to share his sandwiches.
‘It’s meant to snow tomorrow,’ Sutcliff told the dog on Friday.
The dog put it’s head to one side then begged for more food.
Sutcliff had now taken to bring extra ham with him. He give the dog another slice.
‘Where do you live?’ Sutcliff asked then laughed at himself.
He had started holding conversations with the dog as if they had become friends. Sutcliff had also started patting the dog and scratching him – for the dog was male- behind the ears.
‘Anyway, back to work time now,’ Sutcliff spoke.
He gathered his things, said goodbye to the little dog and walked off.
It snowed over night and when Sutcliff woke up, it was still snowing. Standing in front of his apartment window, Sutcliff wondered about the dog. Where was he? Was he warm and safe?
‘It’s a only a dog!’ Sutcliff snapped.
He spent the morning doing chores but the thought of the dog didn’t leave him. It was still snowing in the afternoon and the sky was dark grey. Sutcliff put on his boots, scarf coat, hat and gloves then set out into the city centre. He walked as he would to work then took a short cut to Park Square.
The snow was thick on the ground and covering the tree branches. Sutcliff walked over to the bench, leaving deep footprints behind. He felt like a fool. What was he doing out here looking for a stupid dog? It probably wasn’t a stray after all and belonged to a homeless person or someone who just let the dog roam around.
He looked at the snow covered bench then turned around to go back. From far to the side, in an alleyway of two tall office blocks, Sutcliff thought he heard a bark. He turned his head and saw the little dog scampering through the snow towards him.
‘Dog!’ Sutcliff called and quickly walked over.
The dog rushed at his feet, jumped up and pawed at his lower legs, crying loudly. Sutcliff picked him up and hugged him. The dog felt freezing cold and wet. Without thinking, Sutcliff unzipped his coat and placed the dog inside. The dog snuggled against him and Sutcliff hurried out of Park Square and back home.
Letting himself back into the warmth of his apartment, Sutcliff took the little dog from his coat and placed him on the floor before taking his things off.
‘No messing, no biting or scratching or howling,’ Sutcliff told the dog firmly.
The dog sneezed a few times then began to sniff around.
Sutcliff went to the fridge and took out some slices of ham. The dog bounced over, tail wagging, tongue licking. Sutcliff give the ham over and the dog wolfed it down. From the cupboard, Sutcliff took out a bowl, filled it with water and set it down. The dog drink eagerly.
After showing the dog around his home, Sutcliff made a bed for the dog next to the heater out of some old bedding. The dog settled down and went to sleep, looking happier. Sutcliff sat on the sofa and watched the dog sleeping.
‘We’ll see how it goes,’ he muttered.
Pets were allowed in his apartment, so Sutcliff had no problems keeping the little dog who he decided to call Alfie. Sutcliff also talked to his boss and she let him bring Alfie to work each day which meant they could still enjoy lunch in the park together.