Two Guys, Two Dogs And Me
Ivana Milakovic


    I have seen Denis for the first time near The Public Library. Now when I think of it, Iíve never seen him anywhere else... Well, letís just say there was no occasion for that.

At that time, I was preparing for The Introduction Into Philosophy exam; meaning, I would come to the library in the morning and stay until the cleaning ladies kicked me out. So, one morning, that morning, I saw that cute guy playing with a husky. And I happen to adore huskies, but my folks would kill me if I brought them such a big dog into our small apartment on the fifteenth floor. And the guy was really cute, neither too tall nor too short, with disheveled dark hair and light tan. I couldnít see his eye color, and I had been in a hurry; but I havenít forgotten him.

The next morning he was there again, and the morning after. On the fourth morning he wasnít there; too bad, I thought. But when I took a break in the forenoon, there he was; cute as always, thin, in faded blue jeans and a green T-shirt. He was playing with his dog and enjoying in the warm May forenoon. I came to him and asked him for the name of the dog. Sasha, he said, itís female. Sasha suspiciously sniffed me, but she seemed satisfied, so Denis and I spent the next hour playing with her. I found out his name, that he was a year older than me (which meant he was twenty), that he was a Photography student at The Faculty Of Applied Arts (the second year) and that he lives alone (and I had to live in an unbelievingly small apartment with my parents and two kid sisters, since I couldnít afford to live anywhere else - why didnít I find a job? A job in Belgrade? Good joke). And then I realized I had to go back to continue with studying.

I spent whole May and half of June preparing three exams and playing with Sasha - and, of course, talking to Denis. I enjoyed the sun, Deniseís mild voice, the way he laughed, the way he looked at me with his green green eyes. He never asked me for a date, or to just go somewhere with him; then again, after whole day spent in the library, I would be too tired for that anyway. I let him know I had no boyfriend, but I havenít pushed him further than that. I was ambitious about my exams and had no time for anything else. He never mentioned either having or not having a girlfriend, and I never asked. I really liked him a lot; I was waiting for my exams to pass, so I would have more time for him.

I passed all the exams with tens (hurrah!). And then I had a problem: finding an excuse to go to the library. After forty days spent in studying, I didnít even want to read newspapers; but, the luck smiled at me. My third floor neighbor, an old man of seventy - and - something, had a dog for the last two years, a beautiful husky (husky again!) named Max. Max was a good dog; huskies are usually reserved, but whenever Max met me, he wanted me to pet him. The neighbor got ill, and his son found a nurse to take care of him; but he didnít care about the dog, and the nurse didnít want to take Max for the walk either. So I offered to take Max for a walk; and to do it every day. The old man said he had no money to pay me, and I said no problem, Max was too cute to be locked up in an apartment for the whole day. So it was settled, and I had a beautiful excuse to go the park around the library. Sasha liked Max, and Denis liked Max, and we were all very happy. Well, almost.

I let Denis know I still had no boyfriend, and that I liked him. There was no reaction. None. So I concluded he wasnít interested. Or, since I was always an optimist, he wasnít interested yet. So I started to pay more attention at my clothes and make - up and everything.

Two days later, I saw Denis with a girl (Sasha was around too, of course). Then the girl turned around and I realized it was a guy, handsome guy with long blond hair. I know many girls who would sell their souls for such hair. Long, blond hair, blue eyes, lean, but muscular body. He was very handsome, but Denis was cuter. Denis introduced him as his friend Boyan. Boyan was twenty, and he was studying Photography together with Denis. He had his camera with him; he spent half of the film taking photos of the four of us. Three days later, Boyan came again, with photos. Denis and Boyan agreed I was very photogenic and that I should try my luck as a model; Denis looked at me with renewed interest. I hardly listened about Boyanís plans to send the pictures at some competition in Canada; he might succeed in studying Photography there. The only thing I noticed was Deniseís warm smile.

But nothing changed. Denis was more kind and friendlier, and he looked at me with more warmth, but that was all. Sometimes Boyan would join us, sometimes not; but our relationship havenít changed. I thought Denis could be shy and needed more time (although he was friendly, he wasnít talkative; actually, except for the general stuff, I hardly knew anything about him), and I had generously given him the time. I waited. I spent almost the whole summer waiting. The neighbor felt worse and worse; they took him to the hospital. Somehow, I managed to convince my folks to keep Max with us until he gets back. I was practically ill for the two weeks Denis spent at the seaside with Boyan; I was so happy when he returned, and Max was happy to be with Sasha again, too. The two of them were so lovely, so proud and beautiful. Denis and I used to make jokes about their puppies, and who was going to take care of them.

One morning in early September, I took Max for a walk. I took him to the park around the library, though I didnít believe Denis would be there; it was to early. I was really surprised to see Sasha already there. Max ran to her (yes, her, and why not?). They were sniffing each other and nudging each other and they looked so sweet. I came to them and asked Sasha where was Denis. After I repeated the question several times, Sasha barked cheerfully and took me around the library. She cheerfully barked again and ran to Denis and Boyan. They looked startled. They knew I had seen them kissing.

For a moment we were all silent. Then I greeted them and apologized for disturbing them and said I should be better going, and turned to do that. Boyan told me not to go. He said I didnít disturb them and they had great news to share with me. At that moment, I couldnít imagine any great news, but I turned and listened. Boyan said that the folks at the competition really loved the pictures, the ones with Max, Sasha and me, and that he was offered to continue with his studies in Canada. And Denis was already a Canadian citizen; he could study there whenever he wanted, but he had stayed in Belgrade because he didnít want to leave Boyan. They were leaving next month, as soon as Boyan had his papers settled.

While Boyan was telling me the great news, Denis was avoiding to look at me. He looked embarrassed. When Boyan was finished, I asked Denis why didnít he just tell me.

-Didnít know how - Denis replied. - I wasnít sure how would you react. I didnít want you to stop coming.

During this part of the conversation Boyan was the one who looked embarrassed, and avoided to look at me. I could object at Deniseís answer, of course; but nothing I would say wouldnít really be important. They were gays and they were leaving to Canada and that was it. So I said nothing. While I was standing there saying nothing, Max came to me and pulled my sleeve. He wanted to play. Sasha barked, wagging her tail.

-The dogs are calling us - I said and followed them to the lawn. I heard Boyan laughed and said to Denis he had been making ado about nothing. Denis never replied.

We spent the rest of the morning playing with the dogs.

When I came home, my folks informed me that the neighbor had died. His son didnít know what to do with the dog. Even selling the pureblooded husky looked like too much work to him. I donít know how, but I talked my folks into keeping Max. The neighbors son agreed, and my sisters were very happy.

I continued seeing with Denis. Things became more relaxed between us. And the weather was nice, and Sasha and Max were happy, and Denis was happy about leaving, and I was happy for him. Denis became more talkative; he told me he was never with a girl, that he never even wanted to. I wasnít sure whether to trust him, but it did make me feel a bit better - I mean, he simply wasnít interested in girls, and what was I to do about it?

Some ten days before they left Denis came to the library very worried about something. He told me he couldnít get the papers for Sasha; the vet found out she had some heart problem, so she couldnít travel by plain or travel for long. He didnít know what to do with her. He didnít know anyone who would take her, and he didnít want to sell her to some stranger. So I offered to take her. He asked if I was sure, I said I was. He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and thanked me, and I said no problem. So I got Sasha.

My folks went crazy when I told them about it. They went even more crazy when they realized Sasha would soon have puppies. But when they saw five cute little puppies, still wet and blind, they changed their mind. They started to talk about moving and opening a pet shop or something. So we borrowed money from all the people we have ever known, and did it. For the time being, we are still paying our debts, but things are getting better. And my dear little sisters want to be vets. Both of them.

And Denis and Boyan? They send Emails sometimes, especially Denis, asking about Sasha. They are doing well, they will probably get themselves into the glamorous world of fashion photography. To tell the truth, I donít think of them often. You see, working in a pet shop (specialized for dogs), plus studying veterinary, plus taking lots of dogs for a walk twice a day, keeps me very busy. And very happy, too.

Oh, yes. If you want a dog, feel free to call. For the time being, we have huskies, German shepherds, golden retrievers and St. Barnards. We are also expecting little chivavas soon. The prices are reasonable, and you can also have a how - to book for only $5.99.



Copyright © 2000 Ivana Milakovic
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