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Chapter 50: The End

Taking in a deep breathe at the edge of his apartment, Joe sighs at the morning’s gloomy atmosphere. Another day, another painful stab at the life of a restaurant owner, was set out in front of him. Mike was back in Japan to spend the rest of his honeymoon with Rainie so it was Joe’s responsibility to take care of the restaurant.

With his hands inside his jean pockets, he makes his way towards the bus stop and see’s a familiar face and hears a friendly greeting.

“Well hello to you too mutt,” Joe smiled to the shaggy dog beside him, now no longer that cute puppy he met about a year ago.

Slobbering and smiling its happiness at Joe, the dog raises his paw for a friendly game of patty cake.

“Not today mutt, I got to work,” Joe answered sadly. “You can come over later today and we’ll hang k?”

Unhappy with his answer, the dog gets up and walks over to Joe’s leg while whimpering and sniffling like a child.

“Ok, Ok, you can come with me to the restaurant but you have to stay in the back, you hear me! Mike would kill me if I let animals come in a restaurant. Not to mention the health inspector.”

As the two walk into the market place, the morning crowds had already made its way. The streets were filled with people trying to buy their groceries and new gadgets and toys. Thank goodness that it wasn’t noon, or else it’ll be peak hours at the restaurant.

“Don’t get lost mutt,” Joe warned as he poked at the dog below him. “It’s going to be pretty packed.”

Joe wiggled and tugged his way through the crowd and managed to stay in track towards the restaurant just before Mrs. Lee came out of her shop excitedly.

“JOE!” she called out. “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in so long!”

“Hi, Mrs. Lee,” he smiled to her. “I’ve been busy but I’ll be visiting more often since I have to work for Mike now. Say hello to the mutt.”

With a bounce in its step, the dog happily greeted Mrs. Lee by sniffing at her shoes. Realizing that she was perfectly harmless, it raised its paws to her.

“How sweet is this little shaggy puppy?!” she cooed at the slobbering dog below.

“Sweet?!” Joe asked in disbelief. “Little!?”

“And where is that lady friend of yours that I met a while ago?” she asked suddenly. “The one that held your hand, where is she?”

“You mean Ariel?” Joe remembered. “She’s…how can I say this without being too blunt? She’s…not going to be visiting for a while. She’s engaged to be wed soon and I’ve heard that she maybe moving with him to be closer to her parent’s.”

“Oh…” she sympathetically answered. “I’m so sorry Joe. I knew how much you liked her.”

“It’s ok,” he weakly smiled back at her. “I’m sure she’ll be better off.”

“Well that’ll teach you something! The next time a beautiful girl comes knocking on your door, make sure you ask her out right there and then!” she enthusiastically added.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he joked. “To the first girl that walks into my restaurant, I’ll ask her marry me!”

“GOOD!” she happily smiled. “I have to go back to the shop, but it was nice talking to you and next time, make sure you bring this puppy back so I can give it some treats.”

“C’mon mutt, time to open the restaurant,” he shrugged.

A few more steps closer and it would be time to open the restaurant. Unlocking the door, Joe lets in the mutt first and flips over the open sign on the door.

“Ok, what’s first on the agenda?” he said to himself aloud.

Suddenly the dog barked at him, with those sad round puppy dog eyes covered by shaggy white and gray fur.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Joe shook his head at it. “I just said that to Mrs. Lee to please her, I’m not seriously going to marry the first girl that waltzes into the restaurant! What if she looks exactly like you!”

Giving a small pout, the dog barks some more and continued the onslaught of drool.

“Oh no, you can’t sucker me into feeling bad,” Joe warned. “I’m the higher species here! I’m not going to lower myself in your terms.”

Tilting its head a bit to the side, the dog still sat in front of Joe barking and slobbering as if it was its way of communicating.

“Hey, no need for name calling!” Joe defended. “So what if it’s true that I haven’t gone out in a while? What about you! I don’t see you having a girlfriend!”

Slinking back down on its belly, he puts its hands over its eyes and gave out a sigh.

“That’s right,” Joe sneered. “Dwell in your shame! Fine, we’ll compete. Seeing as we both need girlfriends, every girl that enters the door, we’ll compete to see who gets her first. Then we’ll see which the cuter species is! Ok? Bark once for yes, bark twice for no.”

Rising quickly to its feet, the dog barks once. After an intense minute of waiting, the first girl enters the restaurant. She wore her hair in pigtails and dressed in a childish manner.

“Oh hey look it’s a dog!” she yelped in delight.

“Figures…” Joe mumbled.

Competing with a dog for a six-year olds attention was like competing against a heavyweight champion for a chance at a title belt; the game would be over even before it started.

As the day continued, more and more women came into the restaurant and more and more women were sprinting towards the disheveled canine. This wasn’t a competition; this was like a million atomic bombs to Joe’s ego. Soon, night fell and it was time to close the restaurant.

“OK mutt,” Joe sighed. “50 to 1. I guess you won. But in my defense, my one is more woman than all of your 50 put together! Then again, she was probably as old as all 50 put together…”

Suddenly another woman entered the restaurant just as Joe was cleaning up the last table. She was utterly beautiful with wavy brown locks, and a perfect completion. She was wearing a gorgeously stunning summer dress that still seemed casual yet sophisticated. Even the dog drooled more than usual.

“I’m sorry, the restaurant is closed,” he called out from afar without looking at who it was.

“You let me in last time I was here late at night,” the woman mischievously answered.

Turning around, Joe grew in shock as his body reveled in the image in front of him.

“A-Ariel?” he sputtered. “What are you doing here?”

“Mrs. Lee called and told me to come by for a visit as soon as possible,” she answered. “So…I’m here to pick you up for our date.”

“Date?” he said in disbelief. “What date?”

“The one that I just set up right now,” she laughed. “C’mon, I’m hungry!”

“But…” he cautiously said. “Aren’t you getting married soon? Why are you going out with me?”
Shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly she answers, “Because I want to.”

“Wouldn’t your parents get mad?” Joe tried to make her understand. “You’d probably be in a lot of trouble.”

“Joe, you were the one who dressed up like a woman, a bush and thought up all those crazy ideas we did and you want to talk to me about trouble?!” she asked, putting her hands on her hips. “Besides, my parents said that if I could find someone to marry myself by the time I turn 25, then I won’t have to be forced to marry someone I don’t know.”

“R-Really?” Joe stuttered as his excitement flowed all around his body.

“Mmhmm,” she nodded.

“So…when IS your next birthday?” Joe eagerly asked.

“Next month,” she smiled. “Why?”

“Well…” he began to say.

Suddenly the dog began to make its own move towards Ariel. Walking with that same bounce in its step, it coolly marches up to the pretty lady.

“OH NO YOU DON’T!” Joe yelled, quickly rushing in front of Ariel as he ducks through tables and hurdles through chairs.

Lifting her off her feet, Joe carried Ariel and stood on top of a chair so the dog wouldn’t be able to woo her with its strange charm.

“You can’t have this one!” Joe ordered to the furry pup. “You can all the others but not this one!”

Suddenly the dog got up to the chair and tugged at Joe’s leg for attention. Barking a few times, the dog reminds Joe of what he promised to Mrs. Lee.

“I know, I know,” Joe rolled his eyes. “But in my defense she’s not the first…”

Interrupting Joe the dog barked again louder.

“Alright! I’ll ask her!” Joe screamed as the dog continued to pester his mind.

“Ask me what?” Ariel laughed.

“I promised Mrs. Lee that I would marry the first girl I saw in the restaurant today.”

“Oh,” Ariel nodded. “So where’s the lucky girl?”

“Taken by the dog,” he nonchalantly motioned downward. “Technically, the first woman that I got was probably older than dust. Nice lady though, she gave me a quarter for milk.”

“So what number am I?” Ariel asked sweetly, still locked is his arms.

“Uh…52 overall,” he thought. “For me? Number 2.”

“So am I competing with an old lady for your love or am I out of the running?” she joked.

“PLEASE!” he begged and cried. “Don’t make me have to marry her!!”

“HAHAH!” she giggled out loud. “Put me down and I’ll give you my answer.”

Carefully Joe sets Ariel back onto her feet only to feel her arms that were still wrapped tight around his neck, pull him closer to her.

“Whoa! Ariel,” he said a bit awkwardly as she beamed in front of him.

Suddenly, as she was pulling his face closer to her, she gives him a smack kiss on the cheek. Widening his eyes, Joe stood in shock and looked at Ariel’s giggling face.

“…What was that for?” he asked, in complete amazement. She just shrugged her shoulders.

“That’s my answer,” she said, before biting on her lower lip.

His face soon flushed red as she unwrap her arms from him and he shyly laughed off his embarrassment. Staring back at her smiling face, Joe couldn’t help feeling the pitter patter of his heart bounce out of his body.

“Soo…” she said as she began to hold his hands. “Are we going out or not?”

“In just a second,” he smirked as he stared at her.

Finally taking the risk he has longed for, Joe lowered his face to hers and sweetly kissed her back on those red full lips of hers that seemed to be calling for attention.

“Now we can go,” he grinned.

The End

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