Italy by Alice

The Loser

by Arthur Mackeown

I’m not as forgetful as I seem, you know. I never lose things by accident, not really, just accidentally on purpose. I ‘lose’ them on buses, in shops, on park benches, even in church, when there’s a wedding or some other big do that brings in lots of people. Never anything valuable, of course, just books or newspapers, or a loaf of bread in a plastic bag. Sometimes I leave old keys behind me, keys that have nothing to open any more, but still give me a good excuse for going back to look for them. People can be ever so nice to a helpless, doddery old chap like me when they think he’s having a ‘senior moment.’ In my day we called it something else, only you can’t say that sort of thing any more. I still keep up with all the modern—what’s the word?—phraseology, that’s it—thanks to the T.V. It’s amazing what you can learn from the box.

But I’m rambling. Get to the point, Arthur, which is this: When I say I never lose things by accident I tell a lie. I really did lose something once. Six months ago I lost Rex. That’s how all this started. Rex is my dog. I don’t know if he was actually lost, or if he simply had business to take care of. All I do know is I took him down to the park, like I do every morning, and let him off the leash to run about a bit, and he never came back. I looked for him everywhere. He’s all I’ve got since Dorothy died, and the kids moved away. I asked everybody I saw if they’d seen him, and some of them helped me search for him. A policeman even came and took down his particulars. And then, several hours after he disappeared, the silly mutt turned up again all by himself.

Now, my Gran used to say that from the smallest seed an oak tree grows, and it’s true, because I’ve never looked back from that day to this. Thanks to Rex I’d been somebody again for an entire afternoon. And people remembered me afterwards, as well. When I saw them again in the park they would wish me good morning, and pat the dog and maybe make a remark or two about the weather. Hardly a hectic social life, but a little’s a lot when you get to my age, and spend most of your time cooped up on your todd, with only the telly and a flatulent mongrel for company.

Since then I’ve been losing things in earnest. In fact I can say, with some pride, that I’m famous for it. When I walk down the street today there’s always some joker who calls out “How’s it going, then, Mr. H? Still got your ‘ead screwed on, I see,” and I don’t mind at all. Most of them mean well enough. Main thing is I’m not invisible any more.