Secrets, Lies & Chat

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Trev & Jen - An Australian Story

Copyright Vena McGrath 2004

Trev & Jen
An Australian Story

There wasn’t a thing about the Boardroom that impressed Trev.  After all, he had been here many times before, and although he tried in vain to find just one thing different on each visit, he hadn’t been able to in five years.  The same tired looking people sat around the same tired looking table on chairs that had seen better days.  One thing about being a regular visitor, Trev had the best chair for his height sussed out and always made sure he was early enough to secure it.  He was a tall man, slim, with long legs, and needed a chair with a bit of grouse about it. 

He remembered his first meeting in this room and the chair he ended up with and how, if he bent his legs and sat normally, his knees were half way up his chest.  That afternoon had been most uncomfortable for Trev.  In an attempt to find a comfortable way to sit, he had extended his legs out straight under the table and of course found himself continually slipping partly off the chair as there was no grip for his feet.  The memory of the wink from the woman sitting opposite him when his shoes touched her shoes on one of his slides down in the chair flashed into his mind.  He had smiled back at her and mumbled ‘sorry’ but her eyes told him she had perhaps come to the wrong conclusion about the accidental shoe tap under the table. 

When the meeting closed Trev had wandered out into the reception area and heard the sound of high-heeled shoes tapping behind him on the hard floor as someone hurried across the room.  By the time he had reached the lifts the heels had caught up with him, and there she was beside him.  She introduced herself as Amanda and chatted to him while the lift descended to the ground floor.  Trev studied her face as she spoke and decided he liked the lady.  He took a chance on enquiring if she was staying the night in town, and once this was confirmed he plucked up the courage to invite her to have dinner with him.  The invitation was accepted and Trev hailed a cab, giving directions to his favourite Thai Restaurant on the outskirts of the city and not too far from his hotel. 

Dinner was pleasant, with only a fleeting mention of the meeting and its outcome before the talk moved into more trivial issues.  Trev remembered Amanda had been an interesting dinner companion, who knew a lot about canoeing and owned dogs, two of Trev’s favourite subjects.  They swapped funny stories about their adventures canoeing and about their dogs, laughing together easily.  He wondered why she kept looking at him with those ‘come to bed’ eyes when really all he wanted was someone to talk to.  Going to bed with anyone that night was not going to happen, it was Lent and he had given up sex. Trev was sure he wasn’t sending out vibes that she could possibly consider as sexual, but he was flirting with her, he knew that.  When it came time to consider dessert they discussed the possibility of either apple strudel or lemon cheesecake, but Trev had a feeling that cheesecake (his choice) wasn’t the dessert the lady was thinking about. As their chosen desserts weren’t on the menu in the restaurant Trev asked for the bill, and a few minutes later they walked out into the night air and meandered along laughingly to a trendy, nearby, coffee shop.  

A pleasant few hours together passed easily and it was time to say goodnight.  Dessert and coffee had been the finishing touch to excellent Aussie wine and exotic Thai food.  They shook hands, smiled and parted, walking in opposite directions, with Trev pleased to escape that look she gave him.  He couldn’t quite make up his mind if it was disappointment, anger or frustration he saw in her eyes when he declined the invitation for a nightcap at her hotel room.  She had pressed a business card into his hand as they shook hands and invited him to call if he would like to.  He wondered what was wrong with him passing up the best offer he had received all year, but deep down inside he knew the answer – never mix business with pleasure.  The walk back to his hotel calmed him and he whistled quietly as he strolled along the beach path.  The night was cool, but not cold, and the smell of the sea and the sound of the gentle waves rolling in to shore set the scene for a sound sleep.  He unlocked the door to his room, dropped the keys and his mobile phone on the bedside table, pulled back the curtains and opened the sliding door onto the balcony.  He stood and studied the night skyline from the fourth storey room for a few moments, then undressed lazily and had a quick shower before crawling into bed, sighing deeply as his body relaxed.

The sound of the mobile phone ringing invaded Trev’s dream.  Damn, he had been about to enjoy a moment of ecstasy with Amanda too.  He reached across to the bedside table in the dim light, picked up the mobile, spent a moment working out which end to speak into, and answered the call sleepily.  He sat up abruptly in the bed unable to believe what he was hearing.  Confusion set in, his mind was still on what he had been about to do in his dream, and his body remained in a state of eagerness to meet the challenge of Amanda.  He swung his legs over and off the bed, and once his feet hit the floor he was up pacing around the room with the phone pressed hard against his ear.  Dumbfounded, he let the phone fall on the bed and stood looking out the window at the scene below.  It was dawn, and a few people were out walking or jogging; now and then a car would be driven down the one-way street towards the beach.  He looked out across the ocean and saw the lights reflected in it from the shore.  He shook his head in disbelief again before moving away from the window to find his clothes, making his way to the shower to wake himself up.  He could hear the sounds of movement in the hallway and hushed voices, along with the sound of running water in other rooms as people readied themselves for the day ahead.

After dressing hurriedly, Trev gathered up his discarded clothing and belongings, packed his suitcase, grabbed his briefcase and walked out into the hallway, closing the door to the room behind him.  He had the usual “I’ve left something behind” feeling, but was sure it was just a feeling as he had checked the room thoroughly before leaving.  His mobile was stowed safely in his briefcase and his keys and wallet in his pockets.  He caught the lift to the lobby and, as it was still early and no one was at the reception desk, he hit his hand a few times on the small bell glancing around impatiently.  A lady emerged from a side door, mumbled good morning, took Trev’s hotel room key from him, and proceeded to type on the keyboard near the monitor of the computer.  Trev handed over his credit card, signed the documents, thanked the woman, gathered together his luggage and walked towards the lift, picking up a newspaper from a small table as he passed.  The lift was waiting and the ride down two floors to the car park was quick.  It was a short walk to the car, and after tossing his luggage on the back seat and closing the door, he lowered himself into the front seat and sat there quietly for a moment gathering his thoughts.

In the hour it had taken to shower, dress and pack, Trev had refused to allow himself to think about the phone call.  But now it was time to think. His friend John, the local police sergeant, had made the phone call to him and the story he relayed seemed so fanciful that it couldn’t possibly be true.  And yet Trev knew John to be as honest as the day was long, so he had no option but to believe that what he was told wasn’t fiction, but was fact.  He fumbled around in his briefcase that he had placed on the front passenger seat, located his mobile and positioned it in the charger.  After locating John’s number in his address book, he pressed the call button.  John answered after a few rings and Trev asked him once again to go over the facts while he drove out onto the highway and headed for home, two hours in the distance.

Two years prior to that morning Trev had taken under his wing an ageing dog. His thoughts wandered to her now while he tried to concentrate on John’s words.  Jenny was a red Australian Cattle dog, purebred, old and arthritic, but with beautiful eyes, gentle and intelligent, belying the usual impression people had of a Cattle dog’s nature.  Her teeth had seen better days, her coat was unruly and unkempt and dirty and she appeared to have rarely had a decent feed.  He remembered her ribs and how they were just covered by a thin layer of skin and hair. She belonged to an elderly couple who lived out of town, and whenever Trev saw them in town shopping he would spend a short while chatting to them.  On one such occasion Trev was asked if he knew someone who could care for Jenny, the best friend they could no longer provide adequately for.  The old couple looked distraught and tears welled in the lady’s eyes when she spoke about their canine mate.               

Trev had seen Jenny of course, and often felt sorry for her, as her life seemed to consist of just lying around the yard, nothing to do and no one to do it with.  He wondered who would want an ageing dog to look after and was sure that none of his friends or relations would be interested on taking on a commitment like that, especially a Cattle dog.  He could see genuine concern from the old couple for Jenny and he heard the words come out of his mouth, “how about I look after Jenny for you?”  After shaking hands and coming to an agreement about when he would pick Jenny up, Trev walked back to his office wondering what had made him make an offer that would tie him down somewhat. 

Before Trev picked Jenny up from the old couple he had to make a few adjustments to his home, the most important being a doggie door.  Jenny wasn’t a huge dog, but she wasn’t a small dog either so the doggie door ended up one a child or slim adult could squeeze through without too much difficulty.  Although Trev wasn’t too happy about this he figured that the house would be safe when Jenny was inside as her bark was loud and ferocious if she felt it was justified, and her hackles stood up on her back in a menacing way that frightened most people.  Trev lived a short distance out of town on acreage and he looked forward to sharing his home with Jenny, picturing her running around the paddocks enjoying a freedom she had never had.  Later that week Jenny moved in with Trev, and moved in was about it.  She was too old to sleep outside as she needed some comfort and she needed a friend who had time for her.  Not that Trev had much time for anything but work, but he figured at the very least he could make her nights more pleasant, fatten her up, and he could take her for walks and away for weekends, if he found she could be trusted.

 He decided that Jenny wasn’t a very appropriate name for a stud bachelor’s dog and shortened it to Jen.  Once she was part of his home, Trev made sure he spoke to her often, calling her Jen, and it wasn’t long before she recognised her name instantly.  He spent whatever spare time he could at night grooming her, and it wasn’t long before she looked like she actually belonged to someone who cared.  Within a month her appearance had improved remarkably and the townspeople began to recognise Jen as being Trev’s dog.  The old couple were delighted to see Jen whenever Trev dropped by with her, and tears sprang to their eyes when they saw how improved her appearance was.  Trev had taken Jen to the vet and she was on a course of tablets for her arthritis and her teeth had been cleaned and her coat shone.  Bit by bit Jen became Trev’s dog and her loyalty and devotion to him warmed his heart.  She sat by the fire at night with him and ate out of a bowl nearby while Trev sat in front of the TV with his dinner on a tray.  She had her own armchair, covered by a warm blanket, and her own small pillow that she liked to lay her head on.

After a few initial bouts of insecurity about Jen, Trev’s neighbours soon became used to her and she became used to them.  It wasn’t long before they were all fast friends, and an offer to feed Jen whenever Trev was late home or away was a bonus for him. On this trip the deal was the same, Jen was at home, with full run of the house, and the neighbours fed her twice a day. 

Thoughts of Jen were in his mind as John retold the story of the events since Trev had gone to the city for the meeting.  He heard how a man had wandered into his yard and apparently noticed the doggie door and decided to climb through it, after canvassing the house for a few hours to make sure no one was home.  The neighbours had been and fed Jen, and although they saw a man sitting across the road under a tree, they didn’t think anything about it as any number of people walked around the area every day, and on this hot day a rest in the shade seemed sensible.

John told Trev that at around midnight, during his on-duty shift at the station, he had a phone call from Trev’s house, and was astounded to hear an unknown man’s voice on the other end of the phone, terrified, begging for John to come and release him from Trev’s house.  The story unfolded bit by bit and Trev learned that Jen had bailed the intruder up once he entered the house via the doggie door, and of course there was no way he would attempt to crawl back out after seeing Jen’s teeth bared at him.  Trev, for a fleeting moment, actually felt sorry for this hapless person who most definitely was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The intruder had used a chair to climb on top of a cabinet in the kitchen so as to find a safe place where Jen couldn’t reach him.  Fortunately for him it was high enough for Jen not to be able to jump up and bite him.  From what the man told John, he had spent five hours there, lying in the narrow cavity between the ceiling and the top of the cabinet, until he noticed Jen was asleep and could safely lower himself over the side to grab the phone and ring the police.  There was a problem though that only Trev could solve, and he was two hours away.  John and his men knew Jen and also knew she would probably not welcome anyone into the house with the exception of Trev.  They did however go to the house and attempt an entry, only to be driven back by Jen, who was after all just doing her job. 

John had called Trev in the hope that he could drive back home that morning and let the police into the house to arrest the intruder.  Trev assured John that he would be there within two hours and, as he had intended travelling home that morning, it was no problem.  He pressed the end call button on the mobile and smiled to himself, actually enjoying the thought of arriving home with this drama going on.  He could picture the police outside his home, the neighbours, probably even photographers from the local paper, and Trev being Trev, knew that any press was good press and that this story would make a lot of people smile and make Jen an instant canine celebrity.  He actually grinned when he thought about the local single ladies he fancied who may well now look at him in a different way, and he intended to play hard to get, well maybe.  After all, Lent didn’t last forever.  The two-hour drive was spent lost in fond thoughts about this special dog that had come into his life and had enhanced it.

Two hours later Trev drove into his driveway and was disappointed to see only John and a constable were there.  John greeted Trev with a handshake, as did the constable, and they had a laugh together about the circumstances of the morning.  In spite of the humour there was still of course the chance the intruder may be armed, although if he had a gun he would have shot Jen and escaped.  Trev turned the key in the lock slowly and pushed the front door open and called for Jen, who came bounding out of the house and almost knocked him over as she jumped on him and licked him, wagging her tail excitedly.  John and the constable hurried inside, guns drawn, and within two minutes ushered a man out, handcuffed.  He had a terrified look in his eyes, and Jen growled at him and bared her teeth as she saw him come through the door.  Trev told Jen to ‘stay’ and she obeyed him but he was sure she would have liked nothing better than to have had her moment with this man who had invaded her home.  The intruder was put in the back of the police van and John said his farewells to Trev and Jen.  He didn’t attempt to pat Jen, just said goodbye and hurried to the van. Trev watched the van disappear down the road, patted Jen, told her what a great old gal she was and wandered inside with her to see if any damage had been done to the house or contents.

The story of Jen’s exploit soon got around town and did make the local paper with a cartoon drawing of Jen with a mask on holding a smoking gun and a whimpering skinny male huddled on top of a kitchen cabinet.  Trev pasted a copy on the fridge door as a conversation piece and also for Jen to see when she sat in the kitchen.  He really believed Jen was so clever she could read the paper!  One wonders about the local single ladies.  Did Jen’s bravery encourage them to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her and make approaches to stud bachelor Trev?  That’s a secret Trev didn’t divulge.

Jen lived for a few more years with Trev and became his devoted mate.  Everywhere Trev went that wasn’t to do with work, Jen was there. They romped on the beach together, watched the waves roll in eating fish and chips, and whenever Trev went camping, Jen was there, alongside him at night eating fresh fish cooked on the campfire.  When Jen eventually passed on to doggie heaven Trev missed her sorely.  He buried her in the garden, under a rosebush she loved to lie near in the sun, and put up a small headstone in her memory. The old couple were brought over for the burial ceremony and afterwards the three of them sat around the barbecue, eating fish for Jen, and talking about her.  Trev knew he would be lonely, as he had become so used to having Jen around.  He decided that before too long he would buy himself a new pup, but first off he would make sure that the doggie door was made much smaller as he had learned a good lesson from the intrusion into his home. 

The morning after Trev buried Jen he visited the local pet shop, thinking that he would buy himself a pet rock to keep him company for a while before he decided what kind of dog he would buy.  Pet rocks appeared to be all the rage, so he imagined there must be something there to experience and he might as well be part of it. He walked back out of the pet shop, put the basket on the back seat, climbed into the front seat and turned around at the noise coming from the rear of the car.  And there they were, twin puppies, sitting up in the basket yapping away at Trev.  So much for a pet rock, but then Trev never was much good at shopping and always came home with more than he intended.  He drove home happily, whistling in tune with the puppies’ yapping and his mind racing with things he would need to do now he had decided to complicate his life with not only one pup, but two.  The doggie door was his first priority and there was no way anyone would be able to fit through the size door these two little treasures would fit through. 

When he arrived home, Trev walked down to the rose bush with the two puppies in his arms, squatted in front of the headstone, and introduced Dotcom and Data to Jen. Trev was amused at the names he had chosen for the pups and cuddled them close, knowing they would fill the void in his life that Jen’s passing had left.  He sat on the ground with the pups jumping all over him, pulling at his shirt, biting his fingers.  He smiled at the pups and knew that life was pretty good and was going to be even better now he had his two ‘boys’ to spoil.




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