Coat room attendant at the Blue Loon was Denise’s third and favorite job. As a college student the late-night shifts made for rough morning classes, but she wouldn’t give up those slow nights for anything. On Wednesday’s she could slip out of the darkened room by the entrance and play her songs to the few hard-core drunks that frequented the establishment for open mic night. On Thursday’s she could watch the double feature with her shift meal, and it was always exciting to meet the big-name bands that came through to play when she showed them to the green room. She would never admit it to her mother, but one of the highlights of her life was smoking weed with Snoop Dog before his summer show.
One night, deep in the chill of January, Denise was inundated with fake Chanel purses that woman in tight dresses insisted were real. Club nights were the worst nights. She could never feel comfortable with saying “That will be twenty-five dollars for the V-Jay” which is what their video DJ insisted on calling herself. Not to mention, everyone always lost their coat tickets and then yelled like it was her fault.
No lady, I assure you, your green feather boa is not one of a kind.
Just before things started to get ugly, Denise heard a commotion outside.
“Oh my god, what happened?!”
“You can’t bring him in here.”
“What have you done?”
“He was unconscious when I found him.”
A dark-haired man shoved his way to the coat desk. In his arms was a large black and tan dog. Denise could see the animal's chest just barely rise and fall with shallow breathes.
“Bring him back here,” she said as she gestured to the side door.
“I just found him like this, slumped right outside the door. People were just walking over him. It must be at least thirty below tonight.”
“At least,” Denise responded. She lifted the dog’s gums, they felt cool to the touch.
“Yeah, go grab the bartender and tell him I need half a dozen warm cleaning rags wrapped in plastic bags.”
“Are you a Vet?”
“Not really, just go do it.”
Denise pulled her fur-lined Kuspuk off her chair and wrapped the nearly frozen pup in it.
“Oh my god, that dog better not get gross fur all over my new Coach,” said a lady waving her bag at Denise.
“Little busy, maybe you could just set it down there,” she said customer service smile gracing her face.
“Ugh,” the over glittered woman responded.
Rolling her eyes, Denise moved her attention back to the dog. Her second job was at a boarding kennel. She had had to take canine first aid right after she was hired and while she had plenty of practice with upset stomachs and out-of-hand playgroups, hypothermia was a new one. She wanted to call an emergency vet, but big-town vet care hadn’t arrived in Goldstream Valley yet even if big town nightlife had.
“Just warm him up slowly.”
Gerald ran back in the closet and almost tripped over her.
“Here,” he said handing the packed towels to Denise.
“Help me tuck these inside the jacket.”
“Now what,” he asked.
Gerald sat by the dog, stroking its head as Denise kept taking coats and trying to not to yell at all the fancy people who glared at the dog on the floor. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the dog opened deep brown eyes and weakly wagged its tail.
Gerald and Denise both sighed in relief at the same time.
“You silly Loon, what were you doing running around in the freezing cold?”
The dog woofed softly at her.
“Well,” said Gerald, “we won’t be letting that happen again.”
“We,” asked Denise.
Gerald smiled, “Can I buy you a drink?”
“What do you think Loon?”
“I guess you pass the test.”