Tracy Anders adopts a black lab from a cancer patient who can no longer care for him. The handoff is swift, tearful.

Enjoy the short story. This is the 100th free short story I have posted to my blog. More to come! Comments are always welcome.

The Handoff

Bob Gillen

Tracy Anders brought her SUV to a stop curbside behind a silver Honda sedan. She slid out and approached a park bench, where a man and his black lab sat. 


The man tried to turn, made it halfway. The lab turned, eyes glowing, tail wagging.

“Tracy? Come sit with us.”

Tracy shook hands with Edward, held her fist out for the lab to sniff.

“Tracy, this is Ollie. Ollie, meet Tracy.”

The lab wagged his tail vigourusly. Tracy rubbed Ollie’s back. 

She looked at Edward. A man rail-thin, tee shirt hanging loosely on his frame. Under a flawlessly blue sky, his pallor was the color of melted candle wax.

Tracy sat.

“Thanks for doing this,” Edward said. “Ollie is a big dog, almost 80 pounds now. I can’t keep up with him. He needs better.”

“He’ll have a good home with me. How are you feeling?”

“The big C is beating me. I’m sliding down.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It is what it is.”

Edward took a yellow tennis ball from his pocket. Ollie jumped off the bench. Edward threw the ball out into a grassy field. Ollie chased it.

Edward pushed himself up from the bench, stepped to his car. “Pop the lid on your SUV.”

Edward took a box from his trunk and slipped it into Tracy’s SUV. He sat again.

“The box has his food and water bowls, his toys, a few days worth of dog food. And the name and number for his vet. He’s up to date on all his shots.”

Tracy nodded as Ollie returned with the ball.

A tear oozed from Edward’s eye. “I need to do this fast.”

He rubbed Ollie’s back, grabbed the tennis ball, tossed it far down the field. Edward walked to his car and drove off.

Ollie came back with the ball. He looked puzzled. He sniffed the space where Edward had sat. Dropped the ball, sniffed where the car had been.

Tracy patted the seat for Ollie to join her. He jumped up on the bench.

“It’s you and me now, buddy. Edward is too sick to keep you.”

Ollie placed his head in Tracy’s lap. She scratched his ear.

The two sat on the bench for a while. A few dog walkers appeared out on the field. Tracy clipped the leash on Ollie.

She set her palms down on the bench. The paint was cracked, broken. Brittle. She shuddered. Broken. 

“I’m broken too,” she said to Ollie. “I’ve got cancer, just like Edward. Mine is not curable, just like his, but mine is treatable. Manageable. You and I, we got some good years together.”

Ollie reached his head up, licked Tracy’s cheek.

She stood. “Let’s go home, buddy.”