Salty Dawg and The Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill; Companionship in an Unprobable Place
There goes Dawgy Dawg!” shouted Sam, one of the usuals at the Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill. Lou the bartender who was mixing up Sunday morning Bloody Mary’s replied without looking up. “Shame nobody claims him.” For two years Lou had thrown scraps at the end of his shift out for Dawgy Dawg and made sure to refreshen a large pale of water for the stray, which was kept under the bar’s rough, grey wooden deck. Dawgy Dawg often could be spotted napping in the cool shade that the raised deck provided free of charge of course.
Dawgy Dawg loved people, especially children and made a perfect companion for daily tourists. Since he wore a collar, everyone assumed he was well cared for and had escaped from his owners for a run along the shore. He loved the sea, the foaming waves that kept him clean gave his fur a natural salty coat. He was often seen laying patiently by a family who was opening their picnic baskets and often got a treat or two as he was relentlessly adorable. Adorable and lonely. At night he would climb up the steps to the Purple Pineapple Bar and greet all the customers; his wagging tail and warm brown eyes were welcomed with a piece of a burger, hot dogs and even fries. Not exactly the diet a well-kept family pet would thrive on, nonetheless his white belly was full at the end of each day. Dawgy Dawg tended to lay under Sam’s feet who sat on the same bar stool everyday and night. Sam, an old surfer who often washed dishes for Lou to pay off his ongoing tab wished he could take Sam home, however what no one knew is Sam was homeless. He had a bicycle and backpack with a small pop up tent and found his shelter on the off beaten paths into the Ginkgo and yellow Birch groves that were slightly inland from the Pineapple Bar and Grill. Lou suspected he may be homeless yet never said anything, instead he let him wash dishes and do small chores for food and drinks. Lou lived in a small one room bungalow and on stormy nights he would worry about Dawgy Dawg and Sam; he knew he could not share his tiny space with anyone and when not working he liked his privacy. Lou was tall, lanky and had long salt and pepper curly hair. His eyes were pale blue, yet his moustache was his trademark. He waxed it daily and curled the tips. He’d always been a loner however he loved his small business which provided him with more than enough social interaction. Each morning he pulled his long locks back into a ponytail and put on his Purple Pineapple trademark cap and tee-shirt, along with old, faded jeans then walked down to his other home where he put on a pot of coffee and at the same time every morning Sam and Dawgy Dawg would appear.
“Coffee?” Sam smiled at Lou as always showing off his two broken front teeth. Lou cooked up some bacon and eggs and the three had breakfast together every morning. Sam parked his bike behind the building and learned he had to lock it after it had been stolen a few months back. It was found ditched by a gas station by Lou a few days later. Luckily, Sam was allowed to keep his backpack behind the bar, or he would have lost his few belongings. Sam was proud to wear a Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill t-shirt and cap everyday also. After breakfast Sam in his old cut off jean shorts would dive into the sea and take his morning bath. Dawgy Dawg always followed along, and they both had a playful start to the day.
By 10:30 the beach began to fill up with tourists and by 11 o’clock the tables and stools were full. Dawgy Dawg would make his rounds and find his own entertainment throughout the day. It was Sam who came up with the idea to make Dawgy Dawg a trademark bandana to advertise the grill’s special Pineapple smoothies and hearty burgers. Although the beach was secluded and not near the strip of chain restaurants and the boardwalk a new beach café had opened with a classier menu. It also had a sign at the entrance that read, “No Dogs Allowed”. Competition was not something Lou had ever considered; Sam took a stroll down one day and had a look at the menu. Gazpacho, taco salad, vegetarian burgers and tiramisu were just some of the items that the Purple Pineapple didn’t have. The prices were higher but it was packed with a different clientele, most clad in Izod’s and pricier sun wear. Heads turned when Sam was on their deck; tattooed, bald with bronzed leathery skin he was clearly not of the same echelon. He grabbed a take away paper menu and returned to the Purple Pineapple to report his findings. Lou had a look and said, “Let them eat cake” and laughed. He did begin to make refreshing smoothies and added a soybean hot dog to the menu. The truth is, Lou didn’t need to make any changes as it was the freestyle atmosphere, Dawgy Dawg and the music at night that brought him loyalty; a local D.J. took requests and under the colourful light bulbs strung from the rafters and along the splatted, weathered guarded rails around the deck people danced spontaneously and the tap kept flowing. Lou was an icon who had been there for years and all of his regulars loved Dawgy Dawg mingling around the bar.
One morning Lou started frying the bacon awhile Lou was began putting chairs down for the day but Dawgy Dawg did not show up. Lou saved some bacon and Sam looked under the deck. It was odd as he like Sam and Lou kept a predictable routine. Slightly concerned Sam took a look around the beach to see if he had found some children to play with. No signs of him were to be found. Two, then three days passed, and Lou put up signs and asked the regulars to let them know if they spotted Dawgy Dawg anywhere. He continued to leave scraps under the deck with fresh water when he closed for the night.
Lou deeply regretted he had not taken the stray into his bungalow at night and swore if he ever came back that on stormy nights he would provide shelter for the beloved pooch.
One morning about five weeks after Dawgy Dawg had been seen Sam overheard a couple talking about a dog and how mean the owner of the classier café had been to it. “I will never go back there again!” said a stern faced woman to her husband. “He kicked the poor thing!” Sam ran down the beach to the café and asked to speak to the owner. The server gave him a look up and down disapprovingly and said, “We aren’t looking for help.” Sam persisted. “ I don’t want a job, I am looking for a white and golden brown dog.” The server smirked. Read the sign, “No Dogs Allowed!”
The owner, a stout man with sleek black hair approached. “What’s going on here?” The server explained and walked away. “ Yes, there was a dog, a filthy one at that and I kicked him out. Was it yours?” Sam said it was a stray, but it was a regular at the Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill. The owner laughed. “Oh, this is funny; as unkempt as it’s patrons.” Sam asked the taunting man if he would let him know if he saw him again then sadly walked back up to Lou’s. After recounting the experience to Lou both feared for Dawgy Dawg’s safety. Lou asked Sam to bike down to the boardwalk and said he would call the local animal shelter to see if he had been caught and held there. It was a frantic day and the usual jolly atmosphere seemed to sink without their favourite hound near.
At closing they sat on the steps and talked in a way they never had. Sam finally admitted he was indeed homeless and that he had no known living relatives. He had a job for years as a rubbish collector then the company became privatized and he’s been let go with little notice. He had struggled to keep his apartment for a year or two with odd jobs here and there then he got behind on his payments and was evicted. He shared that he came to the tropical island with his backpack and his last bit of cash ten years ago and pitched a tent. He never thought to leave the island as the weather, despite its wild winds and storms was warm year round and it only made sense to stay. Lou shared he had been married on the mainland for twenty-five years and his beloved wife died young. The house was full of their memories, and he could no longer bare keeping the place. He had sold his house and followed an old dream of opening a tiki bar on a beach when he retired. He bought a tiny bungalow and after obtaining a permit he built the Purple Pineapple Bar and Grill himself. It kept him busy and his mind off his life’s true love most of the time. He invited Sam to come by the bungalow for breakfast instead of meeting at the grill the next morning and they parted for the night.
Sam had never been invited by anyone into their home. He woke early and took a dip in the sea to appear fresh upon arrival. Lou’s door was open and he stood in flip-flops making pancakes and said, “Morning my friend, help yourself to some freshly squeezed orange juice and take a look around. In the far back there were curtains pulled open revealing two bunk beds with it obvious that Lou slept on the bottom of the left one. Beside Loy’s bunk was an old milk crate with a stack of books and a small lamp. Between the bunks was a window and the sea breeze could be felt as he eyed the details. Simple. A round table, an old sofa and a small bathroom with a shower, sink, toilet and mirror. Sam took a peek at himself in the mirror which he hadn’t done in a while and saw he was much older looking than he felt.
“Breakfast is served!” Lou and Sam sat at the table and shared a newspaper. Lou noticed Sam squinted when he tried to read. “You want some reading glasses?” Lou inquired. “Naw, I hate news actually and just read the comics.” Lou smiled. He checked his clock above the sink and it was soon 10 o’clock. “Time to head to the grill, just leave the dishes for later.” Sam hopped on his bike and Lou walked swiftly behind him. Sam locked his bike and Lou unlocked the gated stairs. As they approached their regular duties they heard a small, “mew”. Lou looked at Sam, “hear that?” Sam nodded. Then they heard it again and it was apparent a kitten was quite nearby. Sam finished putting the chairs down and followed the sound which led him under the deck. Low and behold there was Dawgy Dawg with not one, but three small kittens cuddled against his furry belly. Dawgy Dawg’s tail thumped, as Sam called out for Lou, “Ya gotta see this!” Lou came down and his heart began to smile. Both gave Dawgy Dog a hug, rubbed his head, scratching him behind the ears as he loved. “Kittens! They are so tiny, too young to be away from their mother. I’ll bring down some milk for them and then you ride down to gas station and pick up some kitten chow, heck, while at it pick up some dog food, too. If Dawgy Dawg is going to mother three kittens he needs a better diet.” Lou ran and got his polaroid and took a few pictures to show the regulars who were forbidden to go under the deck. The day took a swift turn and Lou, Sam and all the regulars cheered to Dawgy Dawg’s return. As dusk approached an elderly woman came by and asked if anyone had seen her cat. She said her cat was pregnant and disappeared a few days ago from her camper van in the pensioner motorhome park. Sadly, a young woman told her she had seen a cat hit by a car near the gas station and her family had stopped to see if it was okay, but it hadn’t survived. Lou and Sam glanced at each other then led the elderly woman down beneath the deck. “Could these kittens be yours?” The woman had a smile that was tainted with a few tears. “I guess she had hidden them when she gave birth. I don’t know how they survived without her this long.” Lou explained that Dawgy Dawg was a stray and had been missing for weeks and they’d begun to give up on seeing him again and they were stunned to find him with three kittens under the deck that morning. “Well, he has kept them alive thus far so he has been doing something right, best to leave them be for now. My name is Kay, and I will leave kitten formula off tomorrow, that is if you don’t mind”. Lou shook his head agreeingly.
He took all the signs down and made a personal vow to keep Dawgy Dawg every night when the kittens were able to move about. A week passed and Dawgy Dawg began to climb the stairs for breakfast, greeting customers at the gate and making more and more appearances. The kittens had begun to eat more and rumble about in the sand, jumping up on Dawgy Dawg and his eyes were on them dutifully. Kay stopped by often and she asked Lou if he knew anyone who could take one kitten. She would keep the other two and be sure to have them spayed. Sam and Lou and become attached to one orange and white mischievous male kitten that made his way up the stairs with Dawgy Dawg and rubbed up against the legs of the lunch crowd. Lou blurted out without hesitation, “I’ll keep the little orange rascal.”
I’m taking them in tonight Kay said, the radio said a tropical storm was headed their way and everyone was bunkering down. She said the fancy café had boarded up their windows and the gas station had a line of cars fuelling up to go the mainland. Lou was aware of high winds and knew this would be a rough one. He told Sam to let people know they’d be closing early and to prepare to secure the Pineapple Bar and Grill as best they could before nightfall.
All the chairs were chained together and the tables folded down; the put a heavy sheet of metal against the opening to the tiki bar and nailed plywood to the open sides. Both of their caps blew off several times and it had begun to rain steadily. Lou asked Sam to grab the kitten and bike him over to his bungalow and he’d lead Dawgy Dawg the way back with a rope tied around his collar. Dawgy Dawg did not like the rope and pulled hard to get away. Perhaps he was too wild and could not be tamed. Lou gave up and took off the rope and Dawgy Dawg sprang loose and ran away so quickly Lou couldn’t catch him. The winds were picking up and the rain was now a heavy downpour which he could hardly see through. He slightly jogged back to the bungalow and his old knees were aching. When he arrived home there sat under the covered front porch, Sam, the kitten and Dawgy Dawg. He unlocked the door and all four went onside soaking wet. Sam put the kitten down inside the door and Dawgy Dawg ran about sniffing, barking happily stopping only to shake his salty fur off. Lou brought out a bunch of towels, one for the kitten, one for Sam one for Dawgy Dawg and one for himself. He put a bowl of water down and laughed. Sam turned toward the door and Lou said, “wait, where are you going?” Sam said, “my tent”. He’d been through several storms and always made it through even if he never slept as he tried to keep the tent with his few belongings steady. “ Sam, I want you to stay, I can’t take care of these two without you! Take the other bunk tonight and I’ll give you some dry clothes. It’s gonna be a bad one out there tonight.” Sam looked sheepishly down and said, “Oh, I can’t impose. I know you like your privacy and well, my tent might blow away.” Lou stood from his chair and put on a pot of coffee then said in a sincere voice, “Sam, truth is I have had enough privacy for a very long time and I couldn’t keep the grill open without your help. You are my friend. Please stay and we can check on your tent tomorrow as soon as the storm passes.” He handed him some dry clothes and pointed toward the bathroom. Afterwards Lou tuned into the weather radio and handed Sam soe hot coffee. They sat on the sofa with one very loved wet dog between them and a kitten curled up ready to sleep. “What are you gonna name him, Lou?” Good question. “How about Catty Cat?” They laughed a bit and refilled their mugs full. After years of tumultuous happenings in their individual lives, this storm they would ride out together.
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