The Tiny Slip of Paper That Changed Two Lives
Today began the same way every Tuesday has for the past twenty years. Up with sixties music blaring on the alarm clock, jumping into the shower, eating my breakfast of Cheerios, skim milk and strawberries and then off to work as a high school math teacher. There is a sense of security knowing I do the same things day in and day out. I don’t want to say I’m in a rut, but my life probably won’t be much different until I retire in a few years.
This spring evening I decided to walk to my Happy Hills Book Club meeting instead driving. I found myself stopping every few of blocks to admire the blooming cacti and flowering bushes. When I stopped to admire an especially large blooming prickly pear I saw a tiny slip of white paper caught under the bottom. I know this is going to sound overly dramatic, but it was like that tiny four inch piece of crumbled white paper was waving to me. Logically know it was the breeze making the edges curl and sway and yet, it seemed like a finger beckoning me to come take a closer look.
The paper’s edges were jagged and looked like it had been torn out of a notebook. Carefully I pried the tiny piece of paper away from the needles of the cactus. I could barely make out the handwritten words. If I had to guess, I’d say an elderly person with arthritic fingers wrote the note. I could make out 10:30 scribbled across one corner. It was hard telling but I think the other two words were Murphy needs. I was mesmerized by the note. I couldn’t stop staring at the little scrap of paper in the palm of my hand.
Forgetting the book club I headed back home. I had to find out what the note meant. Little did I know I was about to embark on an adventure that would be bringing pure joy into my life.
I stayed up late scouring the internet looking for a Murphy that lived nearby. I figured the tiny piece of paper couldn’t have traveled too far. I couldn’t find a family named Murphy within twenty miles of my neighborhood. I’d reached a dead end. I wasn’t giving up though. There was a reason I’d found that slip of paper. I’m like a dog with a bone when I want answers – I won’t give up.
I asked around school, my neighborhood and at the local grocery store if they knew of a family named Murphy. Everyone just shrugged and shook their head. After a week of searching the internet and asking around, I was getting a little discouraged. Then fate stepped in. One day I walked into the teacher’s lounge to get a cup of coffee and saw the morning paper lying next to the coffee machine. I glanced at an article on the front page and something about the old man and his dog caught my eye. The gentleman had just turned 100 and was going into an assisted living home. He’d been interviewing candidates trying to find a good home for his beloved Airedale Terrier named Murphy. Too much of a coincidence?
I grabbed my cell phone and dialed the number given in the article. On the fourth ring his granddaughter answered. I told her my name was James and explained how I had found the scrap of paper and I was sure somehow it was connected to her grandfather and his dog. I must have sounded like a rambling fool, but she listened without making a comment. When I finished there was silence.
“Hello,” I said, “are you still there?”
“James,” she answered, in a voice just above a whisper, “my grandfather passed away yesterday morning. We took Murphy to the animal shelter last night.”
“I’m too late?” I was suddenly feeling a profound sense of loss for a man and a dog I’d never met.
“Murphy has until tomorrow evening to find a home or…” Her voice trailed off.
Hanging up I knew what I had to do. As soon as school ended I rushed to the animal shelter to find Murphy. When I got to the office, someone was already filling out adoption papers. As Murphy laid on the cold cement floor I looked into his sad brown eyes and knew we were supposed to be best buddies.
“Excuse me,” I said, bursting into the adoption room and pointing to Murphy. “I want to adopt that Airedale.”
“I’m sorry sir, but I am about to finalize his adoption to this young lady. You’re too late.”
“I will pay triple the adoption fee, volunteer weekly at the shelter and organize a fund raising event at the local high school if I can adopt this dog right now.” I blurted out in one long breath.
“That’s quite an offer sir, but the dog is already spoken for,” the clerk replied, as she continued filling out forms.
“Wait a minute.” The young lady holding Murphy’s leash looked me in the eyes. “Why do you want this particular dog so badly?”
Trying not to sound like a kook, I explained how I’d found the notepaper and how my search led me to the shelter. I looked down at Murphy who was now standing at my side and realized I was probably too late.
“I’ve changed my mind,” the young lady said, as she handed me the pen. “It sounds like you and Murphy are meant to be together.”
That’s it in a nutshell. That’s how Murphy and I became best buddies. I’ve framed that tiny slip of paper and thank it every day for bringing me such unconditional love and joy. I saved Murphy and Murphy saved me.
This is a work of fiction.
None of it is real. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
You can read more about Murphy in an Oscar the Doxie Detective Mystery Series on Amazon.com – quick read fun cozy mysteries. An Oscar the Doxie Detective Mystery (3 Book Series)
Short fun light-hearted cozy mysteries you can probably read in an hour or so. Pour your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of Oscar the doxie detective. I’m guessing after reading this canine adventure, you’ll realize your own dog knows a lot more than you think.
Here is a link to all the Flash Fiction Friday stories. A new Flash Fiction story is published the third Friday of each month.