Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Late night conversation with my best friend

Mohit picked himself up from the bar stool and promptly fell down.

“Hey dude! Are you alright?” The bartender asked with little care.

“Yeah.. I sup.. suppose the stool revolved too much.” Mohit said and stood up. He took a sharp turn towards the bartender and held the counter for stability.

“One vodka, on the go, please.” Mohit asked.

“What do you mean, on the go?” The bartender asked in a confused tone.

“Just give it to me in a doggy bag.” Mohit waved his hand impatiently.

Bartender looked at the customer with a look of shock. He had worked in several pubs but this was the first time he was hearing such a request. He turned to the manager for help who looked at Mohit and immediately understood the problem. He picked a bottle of whiskey and came to Mohit, knowingly.

“How can we help you?” Manager asked Mohit.

“I asked him for vodka on the go.” Mohit said pointing towards the bartender.

“Vodka? Are you sure sir that you don’t want whiskey?” Manager asked confused.

“No.. No.. No.. I want vodka. Today is a special day. Its my dog’s birthday.” Mohit said in a slurred speech. The manager immediately sent the bartender to pick up a bottle of Grey Goose. Promptly wrapped, the bottle was presented to Mohit who picked it up and went.

“He hasn’t paid yet sir.” The bartender told the manager.

“Yeah. He might be the only customer here who has a monthly subscription.” The manager said and went back to his chair.

Mohit came out of the cab and stumbled towards his house. Somehow, he managed to enter the house and close the door behind him. That was all the time he got before Bruno jumped on him and slathered his face.

“Gerrofff me Bruno.” Mohit shouted as Bruno attempted to kiss his owner.

Mohit sat down on his bed and Bruno jumped on the bed wagging his tail. Mohit started rubbing Bruno and before long, Bruno was on his back getting a good massage on his belly. This was a daily ritual that Mohit had to perform before he could call the house his own.

Bruno jumped off the bed and nudged his bowl towards Mohit.

“I will give you some water.” Mohit said and poured some in Bruno’s bowl. After that, he went to his small bar counter and opened his vodka bottle. He added a little juice in it and started sipping. Despite being drunk, he never prefers to do shots.

Bruno again came back to Mohit and nuzzled him. Mohit picked the bottle and poured it all in his bowl.

“This should keep you happy for a while.” Mohit said and started sipping his vodka. Once done, he picked the vodka bottle to pour some more for himself, only to find it empty.

“Where did it all go?” Mohit spoke out loud.

“That is some wild stuff bro.” Came the reply. Mohit turned to see who spoke. He was out of his wits and half of his high was gone immediately. There was no one around.

‘Ghost?’ Mohit thought getting even more scared.

“Who drank my vodka?” Mohit spoke again in a meek voice.

“So, this is called vodka. I always wondered.” The reply came. Mohit swerved towards the sound of the voice and saw no one. Bruno was looking at him weirdly.

“You think I am going nuts?” He asked Bruno.

“Nah man! I think you are alright.” The voice came again, this time from Bruno.

“Bruno. You can talk.” Mohit said finally realising who was speaking.

“Holy cow! I blew it.” Bruno said suddenly tense.

“What do you mean?” Mohit asked slowly walking towards Bruno. He saw that Bruno’s bowl was empty and realised that Bruno had indeed accidentally drank the vodka.

“There are three rules of being a pet. I broke first two of them.” Bruno said not meeting Mohit’s eyes. It was the same look Bruno gave when he would break something of Mohit.

“What rules?” Mohit asked. Half of his mind said that it was all alcohol’s effect and the other half kept asking — ‘On whom?’

“The first rule of being a pet is that you don’t talk to the owner.”

“And the second rule?”

“The second rule of being a pet is that you do not talk to the owner.” Bruno said putting emphasis on the not. Bruno’s voice was slurring and there was a visible happiness on his face. Living together for years, Mohit had learnt when Bruno was happy from his facial expression.

“You are just quoting fight club.” Mohit said.

“Really? Never saw that movie, or any movie for that matter.” Bruno said.

“What? Why? How? You are always beside me when we watch movies.” Mohit said.

“On that screen. I can’t see anything on it but lights blinking slowly.” Bruno said pointing his nose towards the TV.

“Dogs can’t watch TV?” Mohit said thoroughly shocked. “Then why do you sit with me?” He asked.

“Well, that is the only way to be with you. That thing is always on when you are in the house.” Bruno said matter-of-factly.

“Huh! Ok.” Mohit said. “What is the third rule of fight club… err… being a pet?”

“It depends on the animal. For dogs, it is that you will never leave your owner, come what may.”

“What if the owner is abusive?” Mohit asked.

“Come what may.” Bruno said with a fierce loyalty in his eyes.

“What is the third rule for cats?” Mohit asked curiously.

“No clue. They are very secretive. In fact, I think that is the only question dogs asks the cats they meet.” Bruno said licking his paw. Then he shifted to scratching his head from his leg.

“I got fleas man. They are killing me.” Bruno complained.

“Sorry dude. I will take you to the vet tomorrow. Besides, we have to get your b — , some other stuff done as well.” Mohit said barely able to change his sentence midway.

Bruno’s expression changed immediately hearing about the vet.

“Nah man! I am cool. A few fleas are actually good for me.” Bruno said quickly.

“Sorry Bruno. But we have to do that.” Mohit said leaving all pretence.

“You get it done first, you horny dog. Don’t think I don’t know what you do with that small screen.” Bruno said taking the offensive.

This time, Mohit’s face turned white. He never considered that Bruno was watching. He was even more confused by Bruno using the word dog for him. How was it offensive, coming from Bruno?

“It’s different Bruno. I can take care if something accidentally happens. But if you did something like that, who will take care of the pups.” Mohit said pleadingly.

“You are taking my care. You can take care of the pups.” Bruno said still aggressive.

“I can’t afford it Bruno. Please understand.”

Bruno looked at Mohit sombrely and nodded.

“I don’t want it one bit but I understand.” Bruno said moving his front paw and putting it on Mohit’s hand. “Can we at least wait for some more time. A few months, couple of years, maybe?” Bruno said hopefully.

“Sorry Bruno. There is a bitch coming in the compound these days. I don’t want something to happen between you two that leads to Bruno juniors. It has to happen tomorrow.” Mohit said apologetically.

Bruno looked at Mohit guiltily.

“Man! That ship has already sailed.” Bruno said to a shocked Mohit.

“How? When?” Mohit asked flabbergasted.

“Let’s just say that when I found there was an expiry date, I started to overuse them.” Bruno said wistfully.

Mohit stared at Bruno for a few seconds and then started laughing.

“That’s why she runs after me, isn’t it?” Mohit said.

Bruno again started looking at the floor.

“Well. No use getting you to vet for THAT now.” Mohit said and laid down on the bed. Bruno jumped on the bed and lay beside Mohit.

“Tell me Bruno. Isn’t there any punishment for breaking the rules and who gives these punishments?”

“There are punishments and a council of pets. I don’t want to talk about it.” Bruno said suddenly cutting off.

“I won’t let them punish you Bruno.”

“Don’t worry man. They can only punish if they find out. Who’s gonna tell them?” Bruno said.

“What if I tell this to other people and it travels to this council?” Mohit asked.

“Nah man! Would you believe all this tomorrow morning?” Bruno said licking Mohit’s face.

Mohit smiled and rubbed Bruno some more.

“Good night Bruno!”

“Woof!!” Bruno replied.