Jeanne: Truffles Don’t Feed the Bulldog

Cute white English Bulldog puppy in a classic red velvet and gold crownOn Friday, Elizabeth posted a short story prompt where the main character had to deal with a difficult client, using the following words:

bulldog           undersea       grill                moonbeam

lonesome      chain               ambush           detox

facade            bluntness      miserable       injury

wealthy          audience       entertain        cynical

Everyone is welcome to join in. If you want to participate, you can leave your story in the comments, as Kay did. Here is my attempt:

The maitre d’ at the Undersea Moonbeam Grill looked down at Lady Perpetua Fortheringham-Wythe’s bulldog.

“You can’t bring that animal into the restaurant with you.”

“Of course Hermione will dine with me,” said Lady Perpetua. “She adores your truffles foie gras.”

Behind Lady Perpetua, the line of would-be diners stretched to what looked like infinity. Immediately behind her, a little girl in sapphire velvet, with earrings and bracelet that matched her dress, played on what appeared to be the most recent iPhone. Her mother asked her to put the phone away, but she pretended not to hear.

“The terrace is completely booked,” the maitre d’ said, with more bluntness than was his usual wont. “And allowing dogs in the restaurant is against health regulations.”

It had been a difficult evening. The restaurant’s wealthy clientele had been even more demanding than usual, insisting on all sorts of special accommodations, including one American gentleman who had just gotten out of detox and demanded a full list of the menu items containing alcohol before he would allow himself to be seated. Another patron, in an ambush worthy of one of the old American Western movies the maitre d’ enjoyed in his spare time, had announced at the door that his party had grown from the six people on the original reservation to fourteen. It was enough to make the maitre d’ entertain thoughts of doing someone an injury.

“Nonsense,” said Lady Perpetua. “People bring in service animals all the time. Hermione is my support bulldog.”

“Under the ADA, a service animal is not the same as a support animal,” the maitre d’ said, painfully aware of the audience listening to their conversation.”If I make an exception and someone complains to the Board of Health, we risk being shut down.”

“Hermione won’t be any trouble. I promise I won’t allow her off her leash.”

Since Hermione’s leash consisted of a delicate silver chain studded with amethysts, it was doubtful it would hold the fifty-pound dog should she take a notion to explore what the restaurant had to offer. She was already lifting her blunt muzzle and sniffing each time a waiter passed by. The Moonbeam’s menu evidently pleased her palate because ropes of saliva drenched her pendulous jowls and puddled on the Aubusson carpet beneath her paws.

“I’m sorry,” the maitre d’ said. “Perhaps you could order room service for her instead?”

“But she’s so miserable and lonesome without me.”

To his horror, the old woman’s wrinkled lower lip trembled. It wasn’t the dog who was lonely, but the old lady herself. Although years of serving the upper class had left the maitre d’ somewhat cynical, Lady Perpetua’s sadness seemed sincere. For a moment his professional facade threatened to crack.

The little girl behind Lady Perpetua slipped her phone into her pocket and crouched down to pet the wheezing animal.

“We have a reservation for the terrace.” She looked up at her parents hopefully. “Can they eat with us?”

“I don’t see why not,” her father said. “If the restaurant doesn’t mind adding an extra chair to our table.”

The maitre d’ turned to Lady Perpetua. “Is that acceptable to madam?”

The old lady smiled a slightly misty smile. “Hermione and I would love that.”

For the first time that day, the maitre d’ smiled–not a cool, professional smile, but a broad grin.

“Give me five minutes,” he said.

8 thoughts on “Jeanne: Truffles Don’t Feed the Bulldog

  1. Aw! What a great story, Jeanne–a lovely, feelgood read. And perfect picture too. Did you find that before you wrote the improv, or did you hit lucky afterward?

  2. What a fun story, Jeanne! Usually I am unsympathetic to the requests of persons with therapy animals, feeling that most creatures would rather be at home napping, but I thought this was a great solution to your conflict.

    • I’m also pretty unsympathetic to support animals in public places, but I totally get what wonderful companions they are.

      (Also, it cracks me up when I create someone like Lady Perpetua and then find myself feeling sorry for this creature that I, more than anyone, know isn’t real. That’s the goofy thing about writing fiction.)

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