Reads: 5

Tik-Tok and the Dog



In a large home improvement store, three persons were strolling together along the shelves. A father and a mother - fifty-years-old, and their son, a young man of twenty-five. The father walked arm-in-arm with his son. The son stared at the ceiling, making unconscious movements with his free hand. He had a constant smile on his lips so characteristic of a developmentally disabled individual. When they walked past another customer, the young man veered from his path and bumped into him.

"Excuse us," the father said.

The stranger turned, ready to shout at the trio, but the young man’s appearance dissuaded him.

"What is up with him?" he asked as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world to do.

"It’s a development problem," the mother answered simply.

"How are you?" the man asked the young man. He did not react. He just continued to smile and stare vacantly at the ceiling.

"Does he understand when you talk to him?" the man asked directly. The father and the mother didn’t seem to be offended by such directness. They were probably accustomed to people asking them such a question. The father shook his head and said, "He understands nothing and never has."

The man turned to the young man again.

"My name is Greg. What is your name?"

"His name is Robert, but we call him Tik-Tok. You know, for him, the perception of time is a bit different, I guess," the mother said. " His internal ‘clock’ moves at a different speed.

"Doesn’t it for each of us?" the man said, then turned to Tik-Tok, "I’m Greg. Is your name Robert? Do they call you Tik-Tok? Nod once for yes, twice for no," Greg instructed loudly. Tik-Tok didn’t respond.

The people who were passing the small group turned to see what was happening. Greg put his hand in front of Tik-Tok’s eyes and then waved it up and down. It seemed that Tik-Tok smiled wider.

"Did you see? He reacted," Greg said. Tik-Tok’s parents also smiled.

"It must be a coincidence," the father said.

"Of course, it’s not a coincidence." Greg put his hand on Tik-Tok’s forehead carefully. "Tell me if you feel that," he raised his voice.

The young man turned his head up and down. He stared at the ceiling, and the smile did not slip from his face.

"Do you feel my hand, Tik-Tok? If you feel it, nod your head once," Greg insisted. Several people had stopped and watched curiously. Greg turned to the parents and said solemnly,

"He nodded."

"Ah, he nodded," the father said unbelievingly.

"Yes, he nodded, for sure. You know, he’s inside, in this skull—he tapped Tik-Tok’s head—he’s locked up there. Practice a few little exercises like that, and he will improve. Every morning and evening, touch him with your hand and talk to him. There must be a combination of verbal and tactile sensations."

"Thank you," the mother said, not so much for the advice, because she doubted it would help, as for the stranger’s kindness and sincere desire to help.

As these events unfolded, a man with a dog on a leash stood a few paces away. One of the cashiers asked if she could pet the dog. Then she said, "You have a very nice dog. What breed is it?"

The man replied with a smile, "A mix between a Husky and a German Shepherd. Her name is Maya. She is very smart."

"Does she know any tricks?"

"Of course."

"Let her show us something, may she?"

"Sit, Maya." The dog sat down and stared at the owner with her intelligent eyes.

"Shake hands." The dog raised her paw, and the cashier took it in her hand.

"Lie down…get up." the dog did everything as ordered.

"Great," the cashier said. "I love it when people teach their dogs to do tricks. But the dog also must be smart to remember them."

Tk-Tok’s parents witnessed the events and without understanding why they felt very lousy and sad. Greg saw the dog and her tricks and shouted suddenly, "How can you let these dogs in the store without a muzzle? Don’t you realize that they can bite someone? They can’t come in the store without a muzzle. And you," he nodded at the cashier, "go back to your job, or I’ll call your boss right now."

The man with the dog pulled Maya out of the store by the leash hesitantly.

"These dog people, I can’t stand them. The dog remembers two or three tricks as a robot, and people call it ‘very clever’...Oh, did my shouting scare you, Robert?"

Tik-Tok just was smiling and looking up at the ceiling.

Submitted: May 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Robert Ratman. All rights reserved.


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