Watch­ing the world go by with... ‘ Way­farer’

Evergreen - - Evergreen -

The young cou­ple were new to the vil­lage and re­cently wed. I hadn’t said hello to them yet — but this didn’t seem to be the right time. They were out on the pave­ment and he seemed to be leav­ing. Noth­ing she was say­ing seemed to be mak­ing any dif­fer­ence. Their young mar­riage seemed to be over al­ready.

Stand­ing at the bus stop try­ing not to look like I was eaves­drop­ping I saw Rio shuf­fling to­wards them. I moved to col­lar him — then stopped.

Rio was a friend’s dog. He was tooth­less, deaf, blind and skinny. The vet had rec­om­mended he be put to sleep but my friend couldn’t bear to think of it. How he had es­caped from the gar­den we would never dis­cover.

The cou­ple glanced at him, car­ried on ar­gu­ing, looked again, fell silent. Rio looked like all his strength went into each step. He came closer, and closer. He walked be­tween them and they waited for him to walk on by. But he didn’t. He stopped right there and slumped to the tar­mac.

They looked at each other in con­fu­sion, then they knelt down be­side him look­ing for a dog- tag I knew they wouldn’t find.

My bus came and I waved it on by. I re­treated fur­ther into the shel­ter. I wanted to see how this played out.

Af­ter a lit­tle be­wil­dered con­ver­sa­tion, he made him­self com­fort­able be­side the dog, stroking it and talk­ing to it. She went home and re­turned with a bowl of milk­soaked bread. Rio, bless his an­cient heart, took some. Help­ing him along and feed­ing him on the way they took him home. What to do? What to do? I had a word with Rio’s owner, re­as­sured her he would be fine … and we waited.

Two days later we knocked on their door

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