The bar was not exactly busy in the evening hour with just one group of regulars already wet on a couple of rounds and dry on conversation. Marty was loudly speculating on what was taxing the mind of the lone fly motionless on the ceiling. While Willie was half way through counting the rats in trance following the piper walking away to the distant horizon on a large wall-poster covering a good part of the wall at the far end. And, their three other light-headed mates engaged in similar interests.
Just then stirring up things was Lino entering the bar. All eyes immediately turned on him and on the poodle he held fast to his chest. The barman was immediately on his feet. The regulars came to his defense:
‘George, let him in. That thing seems to be dead – so it’s not a pet anymore. You have no rules against that.’
The wary barman took a real hard look from close quarters and was more pressed than persuaded to allow Lino in.
Lino settled himself on a stool, ready to order.
George was still fixed on the poodle: ‘But tell me, why you hug that thing so tightly? Wouldn’t be going anywhere any soon?’
‘You wrong my pony there, my friend. I’ll have you know he has won every contest he entered so far.’
‘Yes. I’ll kick off with a tenner. He’s fleeter than the fleetest. Standing here, if I let him go – mark my words – my pony will smack the rear of the piper out there sooner than anyone here. Any views on that?’
Marty, Willie and their mates were distracted from their preoccupation by what they heard. Was he kidding them? Apparently not. And they were not of the kind to drop a sitter lobbed at them and this was one. Who were they to object if some fool was growing weary of his weighty wallet? In a short while the table saw many more tenners laid out and Willie was unanimously selected as their entry for the patently uneven contest.
The course was cleared of the chairs, tables and other obstacles, running from one end to the wall at the far end that held up the piper. With nothing better to do, the barman agreed to be the referee to break his boredom. A metal plate and a spoon to strike were the referee’s trigger pistol for the race. The contestants – Willie and the poodle held by Lino – stood ready like pointed arrows at the starting block.
The gong sounded.
In less than two winks, the race was all over – pony had smacked the piper’s rear even before Willie was at the quarter mark.
Jaws dropped in disbelief, heads shook in disgust, voices raised in protest – but the referee had no choice but to declare the poodle as the winner, seeing no violation of Lino’s exact words of claim.
Lino walked away into the night with the unassuming winner tucked under his arm, gazes burning his back, booty in his pocket, and showing only a little strain for all his efforts. The poodle was no worse for the throw and the thump than a small tear at its seams.
Credits: The painting ‘Poodle Jumping’ is from fineartamerica.com and the artist Barbara Hranilovich at hranilovich.com/.