“Heathcliff… it’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home, I’m so cold…” Burt wasn’t sure of the lyrics, but she got them mostly right.
She held a pair of large sandals in one hand and a treasure chest under her other arm.
She disapproved of the way the sand squished in between her toes. It was as if she had been walking on salted brains. She also disapproved of the way the seagulls were circling around her and Skipper.
Skipper. Dumb dog. He had the IQ of a dalmatian but lacked the inbreeding. He was a good boy, and Burt knew that, but damn, was he ever stupid. Once, she pretended to throw a ball, and he ran into the street, narrowly avoiding a Toyota Camry.
She named him that because of the way he jumped with each step. She tried it, but her heels were too large and she nearly tripped over herself. Burt looked around embarrassed. No one. She was relieved, but lonesome. Hoping to mooch a lunch off of others, she realized it was too cloudy and that she was no better than the seagulls surrounding her.
She sat against a wooden fence in the sand. The chest could wait.
Burt spotted Skipper playing with a seagull who appeared to be as dumb as the husky. They made a game of tilting their heads repeatedly and looking in a direction that led to nothing.
“Ha ha!” Burt laughed at the animal friends, and took a photo of the two getting along. In her entire life, it received three likes across all of her social platforms.
She found more energy surging through her long legs. “Here Skipper!” He circled around for a bit until he found “here.”
With a seagull on his back, Skipper pawed at the wooden box Burt kept locked. “No, Skipper! It’s for later, and you can’t have!”
Since her parents died… rather, they were dead to her, but yes, very much alive, she felt companionship in both nature and beasts. Like her, they were unpredictable (and as her former friends once said, full of beauty. She would heavily deny these remarks and individuals).
She had a brother, but he was in jail, while her other brother was in a coma. She was bereft of friends and family, but being alone suited Burt Campbell (no relation to the Richard Mulligan character).
Her real name was Alberta… as she thought about her name, she walked onto a shard of glass. She missed the salted brain sensation. As she took the bandage from her arm and put it on her sole, she continued thinking about her name. Alberta was not her favorite name. She was nicknamed “Bertie” for short, then “Bert,” but she spelled it with a U. Not the best name story, she thought.
The cold chill brushed against her skin. She rolled down the plaid sleeves of her shirt and buttoned it at the wrists. Her inner narration was yawning. Nothing of interest happened to her. She had heard about a woman who couldn’t see the color blue and wondered what that was like. She also recalled the news piece about the day seven pizza chefs and a delivery guy vanished. An unlikely story, she felt, but entertaining.
Burt dropped the treasure chest.
“Let’s look at him one more time.”
She opened the lock, lifted the lid of the box and saw that it was still filled to the brim with bones and a dog skull.
“Sorry, Skipper. I give you a lot of flak for being dumb, but Gil was even dumber. He was a dalmatian. Really dumb. He was my best friend after Tom went into the coma. Then he got hit by a Toyota Camry and… well, you’re here.”
“I bow to no dog,” she joked. “Can you dig? I forgot my shovel.”
Burt closed the lid and locked it again. “Dig, Skipper. Dig for Gil.”
She motioned digging and eventually just dug the sand with her own hands. Skipper started digging two minutes before she finished.
“Good boy, Skipper.” She went silent for four minutes. “Goodbye, Gil.”
“Goodbye, friend. Thank you for taking such good care of me.”
She wheeled around and saw a fat bald man with a thin mustache and spectacles. She didn’t feel any anger. Actually, she felt relieved, like Gil had wanted to say that.
“Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Name’s Dean.”
“Bur–Alberta. Well, have a nice day at the beach, Dean.”
“I always do!” He chuckled at her, then sighed.
Burt wondered if it was illegal to keep a seagull. Before she could react, it flew away.
“Both of us lost a friend today, huh?”
“Come on, I’ll make you some nice pork ch–” She checked her breast pocket. “I think I dropped my keys in the hole. Where was it again?”
The seagull came back with Burt’s keys in its beak. It sat on Skipper’s back again.
“Guess you guys aren’t so dumb, huh?”
Skipper howled and the seagull, later named Keys, squawked.