After what happened with Pattina Harwood closed himself in his studio and painted. He was filled with creative energy he couldn’t contain. And with every brushstroke he felt he distanced himself from his most recent heartbreak. Within days he had something he was happy with, a canvas he could hang on his living room wall.
There were other things that helped as well. Talking to Juan always did the trick. Harwood’s best friend might have been an eccentric, and even insane if you listened to certain people but Juan could always make you laugh, no matter how bad you were feeling. And on one of those particularly chilly days Juan called with a surprise.
“Well listen Harwood.” He said in his thick Twinbrook accent Harwood had gotten used to by now. “My little Cinammon just gave birth, can you believe it friend, three little puppies she had brought to this world, all cute as buttons. Say, you know I can’t handle all of them, could you maybe come some time next week, take a look? If you like them maybe you can take one home?”
“I would love to Juan!” Harwood said smiling. What was better to heal a hole in your heart than a new, tiny and sweet little thing to take care off? Excitement spread like a bubble inside Harwood’s chest and it stayed there for the whole week he waited for his visit to Juan’s.
In the meantime Harwood had made other changes as well, he cut his hair. Back when he was living in Bridgeport he made changes to his appearance all the time, out of boredom, to stay up to the current trends…. There were many reasons he supposed.
However after retiring and coming to Twinbrook to urge to make changes had left him. So his hair remained the same, one side longer, worn over his face. So he cut it in what he deemed was a more appropriate look for a man his age. Still he knew it would eventually grow back, even though age was catching up to him, and his hair had been gray for years, it was still lush and wild as his artist’s spirit.
He called DeAndre, he called Anna-Liza, he tried making salad again. This time however either the vegetables had gone bad, or he put something wrong in it because he got food poisoning and spent a whole day hovering over the toilet. Once he was better he sculpted. Time passed and he found barely any spare moment to think of Pattina Knack.
The day he was supposed to go Juan’s house he went into town first. Luckily it was not raining for once and he could walk there. He stopped by the store and bought some dog treats, a box of chew toys and a big green ball.He wondered if the puppy would like what he picked, he wondered if the little one would like him, his house… He was lost in his thoughts and he almost missed it. The one thing he wanted sine his first day here. A bike. It was new and shiny, brightly purple and absolutely perfect. He just had to have it.
Harwood biked all the way to Juan’s. Out of the city, straight to the swamp. The street that lead trough the woods was empty, rarely anyone went his way and Harwood was alone. He listened to the howl of the wind as it ruffled his hair, he listened to the sound of crickets, and other bugs buzzing in the distance, the whisper of the leaves in the trees sorrounding the road, he felt years younger, he felt so free, and alive….
Juan met him at the door, smiling behind his little grey moustache. “You matched your bike to your jacket. Very nice.” He said to Harwood and smiled. It wasn’t his intention and it surprised him Juan noticed, he never matched anything in his life. “Well come in, come in.” His host said ushering him through the door inside the renovated barn he used as a home. Harwood was glad, he still was uncomfortable around the ruins of the old house, they just creeped him out, even in daylight.
“Well you know, I love all of them buggers.” Juan said turning to him. “But feel free to pick any you might like, don’t be shy.” Harwood nodded and he first heard the dogs, before he had a chance to see them. Their tiny barks resonated all around the little house.
The pups looked much like Juan’s little Cinammon. They were white and orange like she was, and their ears were shaped the same way. The two closer to the door were huddled together barking at each other and the third one was running towards them in the silliest little jumps Harwood had ever seen, his small ears bouncing after him. The moment he saw him Harwood knew he would take him home.
“That one?” Juan said when Harwood shared his choice with him. “That’s Rookie, I call him that you know but you can change the name…. Not like he would now… He is still wee small….”
“Rookie’s fine.” Harwood said politely. “Thank you Juan.” He added feeling a smile spread across his face as he cast one more look to the little puppy. “I think that is just what I needed right now.” Juan smiled back.
“I know he’ll bring you joy, just as my Cinammon brought to me, and as will little Skyler and Treble. Take good care of their little brother friend.” And so Harwood found himself leaving his best friend’s home with a little dog in his hand. Rookie was literally that small, he fit into one of Harwood’s hands. He was quiet as they walked out and Harwood wondered if he knew that he was leaving the only home he ever had, his family, and all his known world. And if he did how did it make him feel?
It reminded Harwood of when he left Twinbrook, for the first time. He had gotten a scholarship for a prestigious art school and he couldn’t wait to get away from it all, from his uninterested parents, from a bland life of school and boredom…. It was easy that first time and it shouldn’t have been Harwood thought…. The second time he left Twinbrook he left nothing behind, his wife was dead, both his parents long gone…. When he left that time he felt he was dead inside, beyond any repair…
He clutched the little animal closer to his heart. “You are my lifeline little Rookie. You and I together… We will fight this city, and we won’t let this town beat me once again…” The puppy let out a weak bark making Harwood smile. “I knew you’d understand.”