Rowley

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Rowley, the dog, is accompanied out for a surprising adventure.

Submitted: December 09, 2012

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Submitted: December 09, 2012

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ROWLEY

Ambrose, a middle-aged man and Rowley, his black, long-haired Belgian shepherd dog, took a long walk every evening before returning home for the rest of the night. During part of the evening they passed some time with Silva, Ambrose’s lady friend.

On one such evening at the end of April they felt the need of going out for the day. Rowley certainly wanted a good run around in the open air, and not just a walk reduced to the local park and the pub. Ambrose and Silva tossed a coin and decided on a drive out to a seaside village the next day, which was Saturday. That way, all of them would have a day away from the normal routine.

 

It wasn’t a warm day but at least it wasn’t raining, and the sun was a weak lemony yellow. The wind was light and airy that would get stronger as they neared the coast. As they drove along the inland road they went through one village after another. Silva laughed at some of the pub signs and the names.

“There’s no lack of imagination where names are concerned, is there? It makes you wonder what happened around here to have names like The Queen’s Heart, The Laughing Cavalier, The Sign of the True Cross,” Silva commented to Ambrose.

Rowley sat on the back seat hoping the drive wouldn’t last too long, he wanted to get out and have a run. There wasn’t much traffic as it wasn’t the tourist season but it would get a bit heavier as they went along.

Silva gasped, and said to Ambrose, “Please, stop the car. I’ve just seen something rather strange.”

Ambrose stopped the car and Rowley thought, Good, now I can get out for a bit. To the dog’s amazement, Ambrose didn’t open the car door but asked Silva, “Why have you asked me to stop? Have I run over a bird or an animal?”

“No, just take a look at that sign. Do you think it’s a pub sign or is it what it appears to be?”

“And what does it appear to be?” asked Ambrose.

The sign they were both staring at was the painting of a ball of knitting wool pierced by a pair of metal knitting needles, and nothing else. Silva, with typical female curiosity, said, “Let’s go and have a look, shall we. You never know what we might find.”

Rowley saw they were getting out and Ambrose put his lead on. “Sorry, Rowley, but it’sl be only for a moment. Silva won’t let up till she knows what’s behind that front door.”

In that village there was no decent pavement to speak of, just a tiny apology for one. “I don’t think I’d like to live in such a vulnerable house, do you?” Silva said, as they walked up to it. The wind was strong enough to make the sign sway gently, accompanied by a moaning sound.

“Must be the rust that’s causing that creaking noise,” Ambrose said, taking hold of the door knocker, which was a metal replica of the sign hanging from the front of the house.

The door was opened by an elderly woman, “Good morning. You saw the sign and couldn’t resist finding out what this is, could you?”

“It’s the strangest sign I’ve seen in these parts,” Silva said.

“You aren’t surprised by our presence. Are you often visited by strangers?” Ambrose asked.

“Yes, we are. Please come in. Mind the step.” The woman turned her back on them to show them where they had to go. The step wasn’t to go up, but to go down into a room whose walls were covered with sweaters in plastic bags. There was not a bit of wall to be seen. The interior was as dark as a cave and the only heating came from a small open fire set in a tiny fireplace. The whole place smelt of an age long gone. In fact it could have come from out of a history book. The blackness was such that it was impossible to see where the far wall was. In a corner lit by a lamp standing on a circular table sat an ancient lady, who was knitting. She paid them no attention. Neither of them had ever seen anyone so old. The lady who had let them into the house said, “Mother still likes to get out the wool and needles to make sure she isn’t losing her faculties.”

“Are those sweaters in the bags for sale?” Silva asked.

“Yes, they are, and they’re made of the finest mohair.” The woman turned round and stared at Rowley. “What kind of dog is he? He’s got lovely black hair.”

Ambrose didn’t answer. Rowley was growling and pawing the ground.

“We’d better buy something, don’t you think?” Ambrose said to Silva.

“Yes, all right.”

The ancient lady still went on click-clacking with her needles. Her daughter got down some sweaters she considered suitable for the two visitors. She took them out of their bags and laid them on a table.

The atmosphere was getting rather uncomfortable with Rowley still very unsettled. Silva, without looking too hard, chose a bright yellow sweater and Ambrose told her to choose one for him, he was trying to mollify Rowley, who was getting agitated.

“We’ll take these two. How much are they?” Silva asked the woman, who was putting them back into their bags.

“The price is on the bag. Would you like to see anything else? Your dog is very restless, isn’t he?” the woman commented handing Silva the change.

“He prefers to be outside,” Silva replied.

The woman opened the door for them and Rowley dragged Ambrose out with him. Silva followed behind. The door shut behind them.

 

Ambrose opened the boot and placed the sweaters inside. Rowley, now in a better humour, went and sat down on the back seat. “That was one weird experience. Rowley wasn’t very happy. I wonder why?” Silva asked Ambrose.

“Rowley’s very touchy. If he doesn’t like a place he plays up till we leave. Well, do you fancy continuing our trip? Rowley will be disappointed if we don’t.”

Silva said, “Of course, but let’s get going, away from here as quick as you can. After all we’re supposed to be going to the sea for Rowley.”

“Yes, but you were the one who wanted to see what was the other side of the sign.”

 

Ambrose started up the car and they were soon far away from the house of sweaters. During the day, Rowley ran all over the beach and played fetch with a ball. Getting back in the car, Rowley started whining again. Ambrose and Silva were more than surprised as he was normally so good.

“Do you think we could buy some village products before we arrive home?” Silva asked Ambrose, who was worried about Rowley and trying to drive as fast as he was permitted.

“I’d like to stop at a pub so that Rowley can get out, and also I’d like something to eat and a drink. What about you?” Ambrose suggested.

Silva looked at Rowley, and he did seem rather under the weather. “Yes, I agree with you. A stop will do us all good.”

 

“Isn’t that the house of the sweaters? And look! There’s a car parked outside where we parked. We aren’t the only ones who have visited it today,” Silva said as they flew past the house.

After twenty minutes, Ambrose stopped the car and the three got out. Rowley thought, About time too, I couldn’t stand another minute in there. Rowley went and watered a tree and then they all moved into the pub.

Dinner was over and a happier Rowley was gnawing a rather large bone, a present from the chef.

“Lovely dog you’ve got there,” the waiter said to them.

“Yes, he’s usually very well-behaved but today he’s in a rare mood. We went to a house of sweaters and he didn’t stop growling and pawing the ground while we were inside. Now he’s more like his usual self,” Ambrose said.

The waiter saw that there wasn’t much work and started chatting to them. “You didn’t eat or drink anything in that house, did you?” he gazed from Ambrose to Silva.

“No, we didn’t. We bought a sweater each, that’s all,” Silva offered.

“You should get rid of them. They’re toxic.” The waiter was called for at that moment, and left them to see to the other customer.

“Ambrose, let’s go home, please,” Silva said. “I’m so confused, all we wanted was to take Rowley to the beach for some fresh air. Rowley hasn’t been all that happy today. What a mess!”

 

Rowley began whining again as soon as he was in the car. “The vet isn’t open tonight so I’ll take him on Monday morning if he still continues with this whining,” Ambrose said, feeling very tired after driving all day. Rowley sat on his blanket grumbling. He didn’t understand why they took no notice of him. He didn’t let up till Ambrose stopped outside his home, Rowley stood beside Ambrose as he opened the boot and took out the sweaters. Rowley grabbed the plastic bags and shook them from side to side. Silva and Ambrose tried to get the bags from him but he was determined not to let go of them.

“The waiter must be right that the sweaters are toxic,” Silva said, staring at Rowley busily destroying the plastic bags.

“We’d better bin them, he’ll never let us wear them. Come on, Rowley, let me have them,” Ambrose trying to persuade his precious dog to let go of them. In the end Rowley got tired and dropped them on the ground. He set up a terrible wailing.

Ambrose got hold of the two sweaters and put them in the metal container where he burned garden rubbish. He poured a bit of paraffin over them and set fire to them. There were no flames, only the acrid smell of hair burning. Rowley felt happier and led the way indoors.

 

Ambrose and Silva didn’t watch much TV, but one night, two weeks later, on a crime channel, the subject was fake mohair. Ambrose and Silva stared at Rowley as the investigation revealed that two elderly ladies had been knitting sweaters and selling them as mohair when in fact they had been made from the hair of dead people, long-haired dogs, and any other animal whose hair they could get hold of. It turned out that many people’s long-haired dogs that had gone missing had been found shaved to their skins.

“Rowley must have smelled the dogs, that’s why he was so restless. You’re a good and intelligent boy, aren’t you?” Ambrose said to his pet.

 

Rowley thought, Now you tell me! I always knew I was good.


© Copyright 2019 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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