Moving is such a pain in the ass. You do your best to make sure all your stuff’s there but you eventually forget something.
Gypsy came wagging her tail to me while I was making breakfast. Only then did I realize that I had managed to bring her food bowl but left her water bowl back. Putting off the stove I decided to take her for a walk so we could get a look at the neighborhood and simultaneously check if there was a pet store nearby. I knew she would make a fuss about drinking in a new bowl, but it was worth the try.
I went into my room and rummaged through the unpacked boxes to find my shoes. Finding my favorite neon green jogging shoes I put Gypsy on her leash and shut the door behind me, making sure I had my keys in my pocket. As we got out of the lift, there was a strong gust of wind that greeted us, carrying the scent of sweet smelling flowers with it. It instantly made me feel better. I could tell gypsy was excited. She was in a new city with new smells and new friends to make. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be as hard for her as it was for me.
After wandering around the apartment building for a bit I could see a huge cluster of trees which meant there was a park nearby. Well, there were trees everywhere in LA. It was so unlike New York. So calm and so much more cooler. As we neared the gates, I could see a number of walkers with their dogs. Gypsy was rapidly increasing her speed and had altered her trotting into jogging. Another smaller gush of wind welcomed us as we entered the park. I could feel the beads of sweat that had started forming, instantly disappear. Gypsy panted happily standing beside me, taking in the sight that welcomed us.
The park was huge. So huge, we couldn’t see the end of it. There were a number of walkers, men and women walking their dogs of different breeds and sizes. On the lawns that were in between the walking tracks, some dogs were sprawled out while their owners were talking to others or reading a book or on the phone. Some of them were playing catch. I knew what this was. Dog heaven. I knew Gypsy would want to explore the place so we started walking down one of the tracks. I could hear the sound of rushing water somewhere further. Following the course of the sound, we reached a large waterfall in between rocks, surrounded by a pool. There were a few dogs swimming around in it. Gypsy looked up at me questioningly. She knew how I felt about her running away without my permission.
“How about we explore the rest of the park and then come back here? There might be more fun stuff you know?” I said looking down to her pleading face and wide eyes, that she knew I could never resist. Looking back to the pool she snorted like she was saying “as if!”
“Funny how they seem to understand everything and have just the right responses right” a voice came from my side. Looking to my left, I saw a young man, about my age standing beside me. I nodded and smiled.
“They’re just like us. Just more loyal” I said letting the second sentence slip out un-intentionally.
“Very true.” he said grinning widely. He had large brown eyes with thick lashes, that any girl would kill to have. A hint of a stubble which indicated that he hadn’t shaved, and short messy hair. He looked back to the pool and I noticed a tiny dimple on his right cheek. Gypsy started getting restless and shuffling around.
The man looked back at me.
“I’m Adam.” he said offering his hand.”Sarah.” I said shaking it.
“Is that your dog?” he asked looking at gypsy.
“What’s her name?” he asked bending down to pet her.
“Hey there beautiful” he said patting her head as Gypsy wagged her tail violently.
“Is she a lab?” Adam asked running his fingers through her black smooth fur.
“Yes. Do you have a dog?”
“He’s right there.” he said nodding to a dog right in the middle that could be easily mistaken for a wolf.
“Yes. He’s Maverick.”
“Suites him.” I said as we watched Maverick thrash around in the water playfully making Gypsy whine enviously beside me.
“Why don’t you let her in”
“I don’t know..” I said hesitantly.
“Come on she’s dying to go. It’s not like anyone’s gonna steal her. We can sit right here and keep a watch.” he said showing me a bench behind us.
I looked back at gypsy trying to win me over with her puppy eyes. Bending down, I sighed.
“Be good” I whispered into her ear before taking her chain off.
“She’s cute” Adam said as we walked to the bench after watching gypsy fled with joy.
“This place is amazing” I said taking in the warm breeze swaying the trees gently as the suns rays tried to penetrate through the thick leaves.
“I know. It’s beautiful. I Mave and I love coming here for walks.”
“I can sense that.” I said looking back at the pool where Maverick and Gypsy seemed to be getting along pretty well. Splashing and playing around in the water.
“So I’m guessing you’re new here.”
“Yeah. Just moved from new York.”
“If you live around here it’s a good thing. This neighborhood is pretty safe and welcoming.” Adam said looking at me. The sun shone brightly from behind him making it look like he was radiating the light. His eyes sparkled happily as he smiled instantly shooting brightness into me.
“That girl there,” he said nodding to a girl jogging by with a chihuahua beside her “She’s one of the best singers in the country.”
“I’ve heard, almost everyone here is famous. Are you one of them?” I asked cautiously hoping I didn’t offend him by not knowing who he was, if at all he was famous.
“Haha no. But people here are down-to-earth. And since everyone’s famous, it doesn’t really matter. No one cares.” he said grinning and winking mischievously.
“So you’re saying if brad Pitt walked by, no one would bother?”
“Nope.” he said casually.
“Oh my god! You’re kidding right? I mean it’s brad Pitt!” I said shocked.
“I’ve met brad Pitt. Trust me it’s not a big deal.” he said amused with my reaction.”Easy for you to say. You’ve probably met Will.I.Am and Fergie too.” I said sadly as he smiled still amused.
“Oh my god you have!” I squealed.
“Hahaha you sound so funny” he said giggling uncontrollably. “Once you live here you just sort of get used to it. You may just run into them at one of the Starbucks or a cafe.”I sighed as he stood up. Standing against the sun, the rays behind him making him look like a Greek god. “Mave!” he called out as the snow white husky looked up at him with piercing blue eyes. “Come on that’s enough” he called out to the dog who refused to budge. Adam walked up to the gate separating the pool from the path and I followed. “He usually listens. I think he’s influenced by his partner in crime today” Adam said nodding slyly at Gypsy who was busy convincing her new friend that it was ok to stay back and try to catch the plastic fish they were playing with.
“Hey hey! Mind it! Gypsy is not a bad influence on anyone. If at all she influences, it’s always good.” I said as I called Gypsy who instantly came running back, followed by a dripping wet Maverick behind her. I bent down to pet her and looked up and winked slyly at Adam.
“I think he’s mesmerized by her” he said as we looked at maverick staring at Gypsy with wide eyes.
“She tends to do that to people. She’s a charmer” I laughed and said as I moved over to Maverick. “He has amazing eyes.” I said as Maverick licked my hand and wagged his dripping wet tail causing the water to spray on Adam.
“I know. He was the only one with blue eyes. The rest had green.”
“Well then your lucky. You both have stunning eyes” I said instantly regretting letting that slip from my mouth.
“Well, then I guess we both have something in common with our pets” he murmured quietly, just loud enough for me to hear. Though I didn’t quite understand it, I didn’t bother questioning him. I moved away as Maverick and Gypsy started to shake the water off themselves. I was almost ready to leave when Adam asked me if I wanted to walk with him and Maverick through the park. I decided it would be nice to have some company, for myself, and Gypsy of course. As we walked through the park, we talked about dogs, weather, the sun and everything related to it. He didn’t try to question me about my life outside the park and neither did I. It felt nice. Like all that didn’t matter for that time. Like we had each other to talk to about all the things we never usually talk about. He made me forget all my problems and worries. It was just happiness and sunshine and plain simple talks while walking. After about half an hour of walking, we reached back to the pool from where we began.
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow? Same time same place?” Adam asked before rushing after Maverick who had pounced on a golden retrievers frisbee. After putting Maverick back on his leash, and dragging him away and apologizing to to the furious woman, shouting insults about how he couldn’t tame his wild wolf dog, Adam turned back to see me laughing uncontrollably and waved, trying to look annoying by miserably failing as a huge grin crept up his face instantly sending flutters down my heart. Gypsy followed me outside the park, walking slowly, clearly exhausted after all the playing and running around. I couldn’t help but look forward to the next evening as we walked home.
It had been a month since I shifted here and it already felt like home. Most of the credit went to Adam, I thought to myself as Gypsy and me took our routine walk to the park. The day seemed gloomy. The sun was hidden behind the dark clouds and there were strong gusts of wind indicating a coming storm. But I knew I would still see sunshine. My sunshine. I recollected how much my life had changed in the past month. There again, most of the credit went to Adam. Our walks in the park together had become more of an addiction, than a routine. For that one hour we spent together, we forgot about everything else. Sometimes we sat together silently and watched Gypsy and Maverick play in the pool and sometimes we couldn’t stop talking. Either way, it felt normal. It felt right. But our talks didn’t go further than the surroundings of the park. We never talked about our work or our homes or even family. It was a weird friendship we shared. But I was perfectly happy with it, and I’m guessing so was he. Gypsy and me entered the park, greeted by another strong gust of wind. It almost felt like the wind was trying to push us out. I heard Gypsy whine silently, probably thinking I wouldn’t let her into the pool today because of the coming storm. As we approached the bench, I saw that neither Adam nor maverick were anywhere to be seen. The clouds rumbled loudly and the leaves rustled. It felt like they were having a competition. A who-can-be-louder competition with each other. I wondered why Adam wasn’t here yet. He and Maverick were always here before us. I sat down on the bench and Gypsy sat down beside my legs looking around, probably wondering the same. I remembered the previous day. He was coughing a little and his walk was a bit slower than usual too. Maverick didn’t seem to want to leave his side, but when Adam gave him a stern look, he did. Almost as if he understood what Adam was saying. His voice was a little coarse. He was probably down with a cold, I thought to myself as time passed by slowly. I took off Gypsy’s leash and told her that she could go into the pool if she wanted to but she refused to budge. She wanted to wait for her “partner in crime”.
We sat there waiting till it was almost time to leave. Gypsy and I had waited by the bench for an hour for them but they didn’t show up. I felt low. I thought maybe, I could drive up to Adams house to find out why he hadn’t come. But then I realized, I didn’t know where he lived. Neither did I know his number, or even his last name. I didn’t think about him after I left the park or before I entered it. I was so busy the entire day that I didn’t even have the time. But for some reason, after seeing him, I knew it would all be ok. I knew I would be ok. The clouds rumbled loudly above us. It was time to leave. Darkness crept up slowly around us. The sun was hidden behind the huge dark clouds. Usually at this time, the sun shone brightly, lighting up the entire sky. But there wasn’t sunshine today. I got up to leave and put on Gypsy’s leash back on her. She whined sadly and walked sluggishly behind me.
“They’ll be here tomorrow” I tried to reassure her and myself as she ignored me and continued to walk. As we were about to leave the park, Gypsy let out a soft yelp and fled into the opposite direction, her leash dragging on behind her. My hopes instantly rose as the clouds continued to rumble on. I sprinted behind her trying to catch up. I could see two figures in sight. One of a man and another of a dog that could be easily mistaken as a wolf. I wanted to run and take him in my arms and at the same time yell at him. But as I came closer, I realized that it was an unrecognizable figure.
The man was slightly taller and more muscular, dressed in a formal black tux and formal shoes. His hair was shorter and gelled. Why would anyone come to a park dressed like that, I wondered. I slowed down to catch my breath as Maverick ran to Gypsy and me. Gypsy too, stopped all of a sudden in front of me, causing me to trip over her. A pair of strong arms stopped me from falling over as there was a flash of lightning from behind. The arms felt unfamiliar and so did the voice when he asked me if I was ok. I took a step back from the unknown figure.
“Who are you” I questioned “where is Adam and why do you have his dog” I asked cautiously as Maverick circled my legs.
“Excuse me?” was the only response I got. I waited quietly without saying anything else.
The man nodded towards the bench and I followed him, sitting down and keeping my distance between us. I realized that I never did that with Adam. From the first time we met, we always sat close together. The thought sent a warm feeling down my heart. I looked at the man and crossed my arms in front of my chest, waiting for a reply.
“I’m Adam. This is my dog.”
“No you’re not!” I said angrily. Who did this man think he was? First he takes Maverick and now he claims to be Adam.
“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“I can explain” the man said calmly. Probably hoping he would calm me down. I waited without moving or saying a word, just nodding my head, indicating him to go on.
“I’m Adam. This is my dog, Maverick”
“You said that already and you know I don’t believe you. You’re not Adam. Where is he” I asked, my temper rising.
“The man, who walked my dog for me this whole time wasn’t Adam. His name was John.”
“You expect me to believe you?”
“I don’t. But you should. I’m telling you the truth, which he clearly never did.” the man said annoyed.
“Why did he tell me his name was Adam?” I asked confused.
“Don’t ask me. I never knew about this. All I know is he loved Maverick and loved coming for walks to the park with him, though he wasn’t supposed to. Now I know why” he said.
“I don’t understand.. Why would he? Where is he now?” I asked, my heart beating loudly. A feeling of anger, hurt and betrayal mixed up inside me. I looked down at Maverick. He seemed upset, and low for the extremely hyper dog that he usually was. I looked up at the man waiting for him to tell me as he looked away, refusing to meet my eyes.
“I want to talk to him. Do you have his number? Or can I meet him? Do you know where he is?” I asked still unable to process the information. The man didn’t reply as the thunder seemed to urge me to go home with violent strikes of lightning.
“Why aren’t you answering any of my questions?” I asked him furiously unable to control my anger.
“He’s dead.” he said quietly waiting for me to respond. When I didn’t, he continued, “He always had a weak heart. Two days ago, he had a small heart attack and the doctor advised him not to get out of bed. But he wouldn’t listen. He wasn’t supposed to go for walks but he never listened. I told him I would take Maverick for his walk but he kept saying it wasn’t about that and that he had to go. I told him I would go with him to help him but he made me promise that I wouldn’t. Last evening, he collapsed as soon as he got home. The doctors tried everything but couldn’t succeed.” he said quietly as silent tears fell from his eyes.
My sunshine. It was gone. It was all fake. The smiles the happiness the talks, all Fake.
“I’m sorry” Adam said to me as he stood up to leave. Tears slowly slid down my eyes, as the heavy drops fell from the sky. I sobbed quietly in the heavy rain, unable to move or think as gypsy whined quietly and curled up into my lap, the rain making it hard for me to breathe, the storm finally taking over.