Sunday, February 10, 2013

Keeping it Simple

Continued from "No Regrets"

“When you hear hooves, think of horses, not zebras,” Hiko’s cryptic interpretation of Occam’s Razor has his apprentice fazed.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“My son, it means, if she says she loves you, she probably does. Why would you think otherwise? Why think of an ulterior motive. Why complicate what is obvious. You love her don’t you?”

There he goes again, calling Colin ‘son’ and answering a question with a question. 

“I’m unlovable.” Colin mutters. 

This sudden outburst of doubt and self-deprecation from his apprentice’s mouth is disturbing. He’s a nice looking man, a little rough and ready but articulate, kind, empathic and trustworthy. What woman worth her salt wouldn’t find him attractiv?

“Why do you doubt her?” The old man slams the autoclave lid with a bang. “You must learn to trust and listen with your heart, not just your ears.”

His heart betrays him. Just the mention of her name makes him fly. Yes, he loves her. And he’s almost sure she loves him. But she's never said it.

Three days after the girls had left, Colin thumbs the card Melissa passed to him. Convinced that it was a ‘moment’ in time, forgotten the minute the girls entered the shoe department of Myers. He flips the card into the bin. 

“Ah, not my type anyway…” he mutters as he walks across the parlour to lock the door.

It’s 11:30pm, and they’ve been busy.  He heads to the bathroom and splashes his bristled face with cool water, reaches for the towel and pats his face dry. As he drops his hands to the basin, he studies the face in the mirror. Apart from the obvious need for a shave, he’s not a bad looking man. Sharp blue eyes and well-shaped lips, a mid-sized nose and an unusual symmetry to his face. 

“That’s what attractive people have,” he convinces himself, “Symmetrical features…yeh. That’s what they have.” 

He moves his head from side to side, examining his ears and neck. Slips his T shirt over his head to reveal a well formed body. Not too muscular but barely an ounce of extra weight. His torso marred only slightly by a small tattoo on his left pectoral, his skin is pale and smooth.

“So, Col…what you gonna do about this?” 

Reflection Colin smiles, “Go for it you idiot. Just ask her out.  What’s the worst that can happen, she can only say ‘no’.”

The card is retrieved from the garbage as he grapples with the flip-top phone and begins to dial, before he has a chance, a call comes through.

“Hello? Colin?”

“Yeh, who’s this?”

“Hi. It’s Melissa…remember we exchanged cards the other day and I mentioned that we might be able to help each other out?”

He’s nervous and is mouth suddenly runs dry and his brain dumps every intelligent thought it had ever had. 

“Um, er…yep sure, wassup?” 

He’s bleating like a school boy and she’s cool, calm and collected.

“Well, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’m a veterinary nurse in Randwick and well, we get lots of animals from breeders and we tattoo their registration identification inside their ears….”

“What? That’s a bit cruel isn’t it?” He’s rather disgusted at the prospect of his heartthrob soon-to-be the ex-Mrs Weckwerth, pinning down some poor pet while it squirms against the pain of a tattoo gun.  

Melissa’s laughing on the other end of the phone, a sweet, girly giggle.

“No silly. They’re sedated. It’s common practice for breeders of valuable dogs. But our regular tattooist is going on vacation. Well she’s not really a tattooist, just another nurse, but she knows how to do it properly. Will you fill in for a couple of weeks? It’s sporadic maybe three or four dogs a week and it only takes a few minutes?”

He’s in like Flynn. The stress of asking her out has been lifted and the simple path exposed.
“Yes of course, I’d be happy to help out.”

She can’t believe he said yes as she hangs up. “He’s going to do it!”

Annika smirks as she applies dark purple nail polish to newly manicured fingernails. 

“You just have to have the courage to ask them first. Half the men I date are shit scared of rejection. I don’t care either way. It’s just a date.”

Mel’s skipping. Twenty-six years old and she’s skipping. Physically, metaphorically, her heart’s bouncing and she feels like “Tigger” on a good day. 

“Yeh but that’s only the first bit. So…I’ve got him to come and do the dogs over the next couple of weeks, now I just have to work on him getting into me!”

“Poor choice of words there slack arsed mole!” her friend quips as Mel blushes. “Look at you Melissa! I’d turn gay for you so stop that self-deprecating shit and just go for it.”

Annika hurls a pillow as Melissa skips through the door. 

“I’m getting a glass, you want one? Let’s celebrate.”

He’s a little nervous walking into the clinic. He convinces himself this is a business arrangement, she has no interest in him, he’s too rough, and she’s too soft. She probably has a degree and he barely finished 9th grade.  She probably has a boyfriend, maybe even engaged. He metaphorically kicks himself that he didn’t pay more attention to her hands. Was she wearing a ring? Fuck, he can’t remember. What if she’s gay? Married? His head spins and he begins to sweat. He takes a moment before walking up to the desk.

The smell of disinfectant is not unfamiliar, but he’s never had a pet. Never even thought of a cat, let alone a dog. The walls are lined with Purina branded Science Diet for dogs and cats, colourful collars, harnesses and leads. Medications for every ailment and a large basked of dried Pig’s ears is the only item on the floor other than a crate housing three mongrel puppies. He sticks his finger through the mesh to have it mauled by tiny milk teeth. The puppies smell like butter. Their cuteness not lost on the man who speaks to the protaganist who bit his finger, “Hmm, maybe I should take you home instead. Easier than a girlfriend.”

An old woman sits at the end of a row of blue moulded plastic chairs talking to a small white dog as if it’s about to enter into a conversation with her.  A burly man tickles the chest of an every burlier mastiff, clearly beloved as the tacky print on his T shirt betrays.  “People really do look like their dogs.” Colin thinks.

Behind the counter there are two young girls, neither of them Melissa, both of whom eye him suspiciously. Rather odd for a random client to walk through the door without a pet on a leash or one waiting to be collected. It’s a small practice and they know their clients. This one’s a little rough around the edges and carrying a rather suspicious case.

“Can I help you sir?” One cautiously enquires.

“Um, I’m Col Weckwerth, I’m supposed to be tattooing some German Shepherds this morning.” 
The girl’s frosty exterior melts. “Just one moment, I’ll go get Mel for you.”

He scans the surgery focusing on a huge noticeboard filled with thank you notes and memorial notices from satisfied clients. He hears the distant yaps of smaller dogs and the occasional bellow of a dog that sounds like it must be the size of a horse.

“Hey!” She rounds the corner from the surgery a smile as big as Texas. Her blonde curls pulled back into a small ponytail of thick strands, and rushes towards him.

 “Good to see you!” And with surprising forwardness she hugs him tight as if he were an old friend.
His reciprocation is clumsy since he’s armed with his tools and totally unprepared for such a sign of affection.

“Er, good to see you too!” He’s still standing with his arms held outwards even though she’s released her grip. “So what do I have to do exactly?”

She takes his free hand and leads him into a small operating theatre. Another nurse adjusts fluids and pulls a thin green covering over a huge unconscious shepherd lying on the operating table. He’s intubated and sleeping like a baby.

“This is Roland. He’s a champion who’s come in to have his ears cleaned and his owner wants his breed registration tattooed inside his ear. He’s only a baby really but lots of potential for the breeder. Gorgeous isn’t he?” She ruffles the floppy head of the fearsome looking thing. Its teeth bared but its eyes unseeing.

“Colin’s a little taken aback, “Don’t I need gloves, or a mask or something?”

“No, they’re not like humans, just come wash your hands and put these on.” She hands him the familiar surgeon’s gloves that he wears when he tattoos humans and he begins to take out his gun from the bag. 

“Any particular colour? He won’t wake up will he?”

“Just black. And no, he’s well under. Here’s the number you need to inscribe. The letters only need to be about 1cm tall.”

He deftly tattoos the inside of the dog’s right ear as she moves in close beside him to wipe the surplus droplets. He can smell her skin, her perfume. He can feel her warmth and it’s all he can do not to let the needle slip. Once completed, he packs up his kit, and she shows him to the door. 

He’s agreed to take part while her colleague is away and will be paid for his services. Not that it’s much but it gives him an opportunity to refresh his flirting skills and get to know this gorgeous thing. He hasn’t yet the courage to ask her out even though he wants to, and now.

He’s already said goodbye and turned his back, convinced that he has no hope with a girl like her, when she calls.



“Thank you so much.  Can I repay you with a drink after work?”

He’d never thought of himself as unconfident with women but she does something to him. The way she looks, smells, talks.  Once again he’s fighting for the right words.

“Er that would be lovely.” He swallows and his Adam’s apple jumps as his mind races (Shit did I just say lovely…how gay!).

“Cool, there’s a little bar 2 blocks from here called the Brickworks. How about I meet you there, say 7ish?”

They agree. Col just needs to convince Hiko that bunking off work twice in one day is a good move. Not an easy task on a busy Thursday night.

“I cannot let you go tonight.” The response to his request for an early night is emphatic. Unusual for the man who answers questions with questions. “I have two clients coming in. They’ve had the appointment for weeks. Two full sleeves, they want to be done together. I am sorry Colin. I need you here until at least 10. Then to close at 11, I have a late appointment that I must attend.”

Disappointed Colin acquiesces, he’s still in his apprenticeship and he has a sense of obligation to his mentor. Besides, the notice was short and he’s already disappeared for an hour to do the dogs’ ears today.

Colin grabs his phone and messages, “Can’t make it tonight. Clients till 10. Come here we’ll decide where to kick on after?”

The answer from Mel is affirmative. “Love to. CU then :*”

Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory River of Mnemosyne Challenge: "Occams Razor Dulled"


  1. See? You got passed Occam's Razor with flying colors... Er, maybe I should say flying black and white?

  2. Don't use numbers in dialog. Write them out!