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It was a chilly September night as Jim walked home from his pizza shop. He had been covered in flour and pizza sauce the entire day and could not wait any longer to get home and drink a beer while his dog, Lucky, sat on his lap as he watched television.
After ten minutes, it began pouring rain. Luckily, Jim wasn’t too far from his studio apartment in Uptown New York. As he walked through his old creaky door, something felt incredibly odd.
It was too quiet in his apartment; usually when he came home from the pizza shop Lucky would run straight to the door to greet him. “Lucky! Are you here, Lucky?” Jim asked in a worried tone. There was no response.
He opened the door to walk in and realized the place had been ransacked. He began frantically looking around his tiny apartment, for Lucky mostly, but also for his few valuables that he owned; he found neither.
After frantically looking for his dog in the apartment with no luck, he decided to take his search to the streets. He walked out onto 161st Street where his apartment building was and began asking passersby if they had seen a small, white poodle with a green collar, but it came to no avail.
Jim’s phone began ringing as he remembered that Lucky had a collar on with his number on it.
“Hello, this is Jim, how may I help you?”
A soft, sweet voice came from the other end. “Hi, Jim, I’m Angela, and I believe I found your dog!” Jim’s heart began to pump with intensity at the sound of her voice, but then he recognized the purpose of her call.
With a sigh of relief, Jim said “Thank you so much, I was very worried. Where can I pick him up?”
“I’m still at the Joe’s coffee shop on Columbus Avenue where I found him. Why don’t you head here?” Angela said.
“I’m walking down there now. Thank you so much!” Jim hung up the phone and began speed-walking to Joe’s, excited to see Lucky. For a reason he didn’t know, he felt a childlike feeling of butterflies in his stomach. He ignored the sensation as if it wasn’t there, partly because he was excited to see Lucky, but mostly because he was embarrassed. How could a man like him be so nervous simply from talking to a girl on the phone?
As he approached Joe’s, he realized that the entire way to the coffee shop he had been running through possible conversations with Angela out loud. He forced himself to stop and take a deep breath to clear his mind before he walked in and introduced himself to her. When he opened the door he was very surprised to see a dog jump on him; for a moment he forgot why he came to Joe’s in the first place, but then he was ecstatic to see Lucky. As Jim kneeled down to greet him, Lucky jumped onto him and began licking his face, glad to finally see Jim again.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a brunette lady sitting at the table right next to him. He looked up and realized she was the only person left in the coffee shop, and that it must be Angela.
“Hey, I’m Jim,” he muttered nervously. “Thank you so much for taking in Lucky. My apartment got broken into and they left the door open for him to run out.”
“Of course, I couldn’t leave him alone on these busy New York streets.” Angela smiled, “Why don’t you have a seat and have some coffee, Jim?”
He gladly took her offer and sat down across from her as his palms grew sweaty and his knees became increasingly shaky. Shortly after Jim sat down, Lucky jumped up onto his lap and began licking his face again. “Did you give him coffee too?” asked Jim jokingly.
As Angela chuckled she said, “No, but just two minutes ago he sure looked like he needed it. He was lying there staring through the glass door, waiting for you to walk in.”
“How did you notice him walking around in this darkness?” asked Jim.
“He came up to me and jumped on my leg about half an hour ago, so I figured I’d call the number on his dog tag,” said Angela.
“Do you live around here? I come to Joe’s every morning but I’ve never seen you here.” Jim asked politely.
“I just moved about three blocks North of here!” She exclaimed. “I came from a small town in Kentucky. I’ve dreamed of living here since I was seven years old and visited to see Wicked on Broadway. How long have you lived here?”
Jim responded, “I was born in Brooklyn and lived there until I was nineteen years old, and then I moved to my apartment in Uptown. I opened up Bambino’s Pizza the year after I moved here, and still own it ten years later.”
“All of my coworkers rave about Bambinos!” Angela was glowing with excitement. “I’ll have to tell them I met the man behind all of that delicious pizza.”
“Why don’t we order some more coffee and chat for a while?” Jim asked nervously.
Angela blushed. “Of course! I’d love to.”
Two hours later, the pair had talked about nearly every aspect of their lives from childhood to present; they discussed the ups and downs, the sadness, the happiness, and most importantly, the loneliness.
The barista that was working politely told them that she had to close up shop for the night, but offered them a coffee for the road. They kindly accepted and prepared to leave.
As Angela was putting on her coat, Lucky leaped onto the chair and began licking her face. As he laughed Jim said, “You two must have spent some quality time together before I showed up. He really likes you.”
“It’s a shame.” Angela said in a solemn voice. “I’ll miss the little guy. It was nice meeting you Jim, have a nice night.”
“You too Angela, get home safe.” Jim attempted but couldn’t work up the courage to ask her for her number.
After Angela left, Jim began to put on his jacket to walk home. As he put it on, a folded paper with “Angela” and a heart written on the front fell out of his pocket, but he did not notice it. Lucky barked at him and refused to leave for several minutes, so Jim picked him up and left, leaving the paper behind.
As Jim walked home that night he couldn’t help but think about every detail of his time at the coffee shop. He could almost see the regret written on the surrounding walls of those dirty New York City apartment buildings. It hurt even more when he realized there was nothing he could do now.
Jim got home and sat on his futon bed; his apartment was still trashed from the burglary that had caused the coffee shop encounter. He and Lucky sat for a while, until the dog laid his head on Jim’s lap, ready to sleep. Jim reached over and turned off the light to begin another restless night, but this time he had Angela on his mind to keep him company.