by Rosko Tzolov
A family of three walks into a store
“Excuse us,” the father said.
The man who had been pushed turned, ready to shout at them, but the young man’s appearance dissuaded him.
“What is up with him?” he asked, as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world to ask.
“It’s a development problem,” the mother answered simply.
“How are you?” the man asked the young man. He did not react, just continued to smile and stare vacantly at the ceiling.
“Does he understand when you talk to him?” the man asked directly. The father and the mother weren’t offended by such directness. They either were used to being asked such questions, or were grateful that someone was paying attention to them and was interested in their son rather than shunning him deliberately, as most did. The father shook his head and said, “He understands nothing and never has.”
The man turned to the young man again.
“My name is Greg. What is your name?”
“His name is Robert,” the mother said.
Greg lifted his hand: “Let him say it. I’m Greg. Is your name Robert? Nod once for yes, twice for no,” Greg instructed loudly. Robert didn’t respond.
The people who were passing the small group turned to see what was happening. Greg put his hand in front of Robert’s eyes and then waved it up and down. It seemed that Robert smiled wider.
“Did you see? He reacted,” Greg said. Robert’s parents also smiled.
“It must be a coincidence,” the father said.
“Of course, it’s not a coincidence.” Greg put his hand on Robert’s forehead carefully. “Tell me you if feel that,” he asked loudly, almost shouting.
The young man turned his head up and down, staring at the ceiling, and the smile did not slip from his face.
“Do you feel my hand, Robert? If you feel it, nod your head once,” Greg insisted. Several people had stopped and watched curiously. Greg turned to the parents and said solemnly,
“Ah, he nodded,” the father said unbelievingly.
“Yes, he nodded, for sure. You know, he’s inside, in this skull—he tapped Robert’s head—he’s locked up there. Practice a few little exercises like that and he will improve. Every morning and evening, touch him with your hand and talk to him.
There must be a combination of verbal and tactile sensations.”
“Thank you,” the mother said, not so much for the advice, because she doubted it would help, as for the stranger’s desire to help, who had not turned back by the sight of the three of them.
As these events unfolded, a man with a dog on a leash stood a few paces away. One of the cashiers asked if she could pet the dog. Then she said, “You have a very nice dog. What breed is it?”
The man replied with a smile, “A mix between a Husky and a German Shepherd. Her name is Hannah. She is very good and smart.”
“Does she know any tricks?”
“Let her show us something, can she?”
“Sit, Hannah.” The dog sat down and stared at the owner with her intelligent eyes.
“Shake hands.” The dog raised her paw, and the cashier took it in her hand.
“Lie down…get up.” The dog did everything she was asked.
“Great,” the cashier said. “I love it when people teach their dogs to do tricks. But the dog also must be smart to remember them.”
The parents witnessed the events without understanding why they felt so lousy and sad. Greg saw the dog and her tricks, and shouted suddenly, “How can you let these dogs in the store without a muzzle? Don’t you realize that they can bite someone? They can’t come in the store without a muzzle... And you,” he pointed at the cashier, “go back to your register, or
I’ll call your boss right now.”
The man with the dog pulled Hannah out of the store by the leash hesitantly, and the cashier hid behind her register.
“These dog people, I can’t stand them. The dog remembers two or three tricks like a robot and people call it ‘very clever’...Oh, did my shouting scare you, Robert?”
Robert just was smiling and looking up at the ceiling.
The story is included in a collection of twenty stories called As a Firefly in the Night on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QG8QBSN?fbclid=IwAR3z1fwIlNfme0HXNkfsr_abr3DWH4KqO1...