LONG AFTER THE APPLAUSE DIES DOWN
Barbara J. Galasso
The janitor sweeps up the floor of candy wrappers carelessly left behind. He walks up to the next roll of seats, picking up half empty cans of soda pop, an arm band is picked up, number 89 it reads and without giving much more thought to it, he throws it in the trash can. A half eaten hot dog lies neatly on a chair's arm rest like its owner might come back to claim the rest of it. An open catalog lies haphazardly on a chair with the numbers one, two, three and four circled next to strange unknown names. Moving among the seats, he notices a spray bottle on the cement floor. He picks it up and opens the cap. He thinks to himself that it smells very much like a hair conditioner. What would someone be doing with a hair condition in a sports arena he wonders? “What’s this, he mumbles to himself. Oh boy, it looks like someone left their eye glasses behind.” He picks them up and puts it in his pocket to turn it into the lost and found. It's been a long day, cleaning and polishing and making things look new again. He's tired as he reaches to turn the light switch off.
The stadium is dark as he climbs the steps that will lead him out the arena door. As he reaches for the handle, he hears a slight noise and turns to look in its direction. He hears it again and recognizes it as the echoes of people clapping and cheering, and screaming and laughing. He turns the switch back on once again and the arena is flooded with light as he takes a seat at the top of the arena and listens as the thunderous applause surrounds the stadium as it did just a few short days ago.
"Excuse me sir", someone says to him as they try to squeeze past him with popcorn and soda in their hands. A little bit of the soda falls on the janitor’s shoes and he tells the kid to watch where he’s going. “Well it’s not like I did it on purpose” the kid wise mouths him. “Kids today have no respect” he says to himself. "Over here Tony," he hears another kid say. I've found an empty seat. Excuse me mister” the kid says as he tries to squeeze himself past the old man. The janitor looks around the huge arena, and wonders why these kids can’t find another seat besides the ones next to him!
Dogs are lying in the aisles. He knows he recognizes this breed, but can't quite figure out what they call them. "Oh, yeah, they're those police dogs," he says to himself. He looks down at the middle of the arena floor and sees hundreds of police dogs in the center of the ring. He wonders what they’re all doing here. He sees dogs running around the stadium with people running after them on long leashes. He sees some lady in the middle of the ring open the dog’s mouth and is looking at its teeth. "She's a lot braver than me," he thinks to himself. "And why is she touching his private parts?" he wonders. "She's lucky he doesn't take those teeth and sink it into her leg," he chuckles to himself.
"Pardon me sir," a teenage boy says to him. "I think you're in my seat." “Go sit over there he tells him in a menacing voice. This is my seat. Got it?” This kid doesn’t answer him back and quickly takes a seat several rolls away. "Hey did somebody borrow my catalog? I want it back, someone cries out in protest. "Where the heck did I put my glasses?" a little old lady mumbles to herself as she sits down in front of the janitor as she starts to rummage through her pocketbook.
He hears the woman a few seats away from him saying to her friend, “Did you ever see such a horrible looking bitch? She has no front, her rear end is all over the place and she’s missing a couple of teeth on top of it! Her friend responds by saying, “You should see what she produces like. Her babies are just as ugly as she is!” “Wow, the janitor thinks to himself. In my time, women didn’t use such language and it was one thing talking about someone, but quite another to be talking about someone’s kids!” He decides to take another seat further down the roll away from these offending women.
He turns his attention back to the ring. The dogs are all lined up in a roll over against the wall now and standing just as proud as can be. "Wow, I like that one in the front," the janitor says to himself. I've never seen such pretty looking police dogs before." He hears someone whisper to another that they like the second dog better than the first dog and questions why the dog in 15th place is not moved up to the front of the line?
Just then the dogs start to run around the ring again, one faster than the other. He hears whistles, and bells, and chains that rattle. He sees people running around calling out names like Royce, and Lillie and running into one another. He wonders where they're all running to in such a hurry. He looks around uncomfortably to make sure there isn't a fire that’s started somewhere. He thinks maybe he should get up and investigate, but is having too much fun watching all the pretty police dogs.
Then the lady in the middle of the ring points to the dog in first place and everyone stands up on their feet to a thunderous ovation. He wonders if he should be doing the same thing only he doesn't know what he'd be clapping for. He sees bulbs flashing as a photographer takes pictures, hands congratulating one another and others walking away cursing and tearing off their arm bands. A huge trophy is brought out to the center of the ring and the dog he likes is standing next to it. He's so beautiful, that he wants to go down there and pet him.
Just then he feels a hand on his shoulder and he say's to himself, "If someone asks me to move one more time, I might not be so accommodating as I was before!” "Come on Harry, for Pete's sake," he hears a familiar voice call out his name. "If Mr. Drake sees you napping again, you're going to be fired," he hears the voice say to him. He looks up and it's his co/worker John standing above him. "I'm not napping John," he tells him. "I'm watching the police dogs. Sit down and watch them with me," he tells him. "What police dogs? John snaps. There's nobody here but you and me, you old fool. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to lock up the doors and get home tonight."
Harry looks back at the arena, and the dogs are gone. He hears the applause dying down until there is nothing left but silence. He follows John to the door, scratching his head wondering if it was really just a dream after all. Maybe John is right. Maybe he is nothing but an old fool. But it all seemed so real.
He turns one more time to look at the arena and sees the beautiful dog with the trophy standing there looking up at him and wagging his tail, but decides not to say anything more to John about it. He all ready thinks his lost his mind. When they get out to the parking lot, he yawns as the night air hits his face. He waves good bye to John as he walks over to his car. He reaches in his pocket to get his keys out and feels the cold metal of an object. He wraps his fingers around it and pulls out the eye glasses of the little old lady.
From the book: "CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE DOG LOVER'S SOUL: STORIES OF CANINE COMPANIONSHIP, COMEDY AND COURAGE".....For thousands of years, dogs have been cherished as devoted companions and exuberant playmates—their unconditional love, limitless affection and unwavering loyalty never fail to melt our hearts. The stories in Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul truly capture the special joy these four-legged creatures bring to our lives and hearts. From exciting and entertaining accounts of courage and humor to heartwarming tales of healing and learning, each touching story in this book will inspire dog lovers to rejoice in the unique bond they share with their canine companions.
My rating: dog stories: (4)
NO PART OF THIS STORY MAY BE COPIED OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR!