The man with five million mutts

Being unemployed, with seemingly no prospects, is pretty rubbish. Putting it lightly.

But to his credit, Patrick was handling the situation rather well. But not overly well.

He’d drag himself out of bed every morning around 10 or 11.00am, scan his rejection emails, scrape a slither of butter from the packet and slather it onto a recently de-moulded slice of bread (now toasted), then begin shoving the “breakfast” down his throat whilst flicking on the telly, contemplating applying for new jobs.

As the daytime television programmes hit that point where they truly began to rot his brain, he’d go upstairs, wash the important parts, slip on some trousers and begin the job search process for real.

‘Ooh that looks good,’ he’d think then bookmark the job page with the intention of applying for it later. ‘I like the sound of that,’ he’d think as he sent off a stock email and covering letter. ‘That looks awful,’ he’d think as he called the bored receptionist at Whoever Ltd to send him the job description. And the process would continue until it was socially acceptable to have a pot Noodle and a beer.

This routine would occur day in and day out. Until Sunday.

Oh yes, Sundays were his day of rest. Sundays were when he could really do what he wanted. Sundays were when Patrick was not tied down to the pressures of job hunting.

A typical Sunday would involve dragging himself out of bed around 10 or 11.00am, checking his emails, Facebook and Twitter, scraping a slither of butter from the packet and slathering it onto a recently de-moulded slice of bread (now toasted), then shoving the “breakfast” down his throat while flicking on the telly.

As Sunday television hit that point where it truly began to rot his brain, he’d go upstairs, wash the important parts, slip on some trousers and play Football Manager on the PC until it was socially acceptable to have a Pot Noodle and a beer.

This routine would occur every Sunday. Until, of course, one particular Sunday not too long ago.

On this particular Sunday, Patrick dragged himself out of bed around 10 or 11.00am then went to check his emails. The first to catch his eye had the subject line of “You’re a winner!” It was from the National Lottery.

Patrick rolled his eyes. He’d often had these as over the last two years he had been playing the National Lottery online and they tend to send you that annoyingly teasing email if all you’ve won is a pound. He clicked ‘open’ just incase.

“Congratulations Patrick, you are the winner of 5 million pounds!!”

He rubbed his eyes. ‘This can’t be true’. He read it again.

“Congratulations Patrick, you are the winner of 5 million pugs!!”

Wait. What?

He rubbed his eyes for a second time.

“Congratulations Patrick, you are the winner of 5 million pugs!!”

‘Pugs? As in, the dog?’ He went to read on but the door bell rang. He checked to see he was wearing trousers – he was – and he walked to the front door.

Before he’d opened it he could hear the strangest sound coming from outside. A loud, wheezing, moaning, squealing noise. He opened the door to find a happy 30-something delivery driver with “The National Lottery” branded across his cap.

“Patrick?!” he yelped.

“Yes?” Patrick replied.

“CONGRATULATIONS!! You are the winner of last night’s lottery draw! JERRY! Open the doors!”

With that, “Jerry” open the doors of the 16-wheeler truck that Patrick somehow failed to notice. A deep, thunderous, confusing sound boomed from inside the truck.

As Patrick blinked, five million pug dogs came sprinting towards him. Before he even had time to process the nonsense they charged into his house, knocking him to the ground.

They climbed in the cupboards, the toilets, his shoes and any space going. They ate his food, drank his water and pooed on his floor. His clothes were trashed, his crockery was smashed and there wasn’t a clean thing to be seen.

‘What the hell, don’t lottery winners get cash?’ he thought. ‘What on Earth am I going to do?’

The next six days were a whirlwind.

Monday morning his doorbell took a beating unlike ever before. Journalists from all around the World flocked to interview him. Magazines like Heat and Hello! threw envelopes of cash into his hands in exchange for a photo and a soundbite. £10,000. £25,000. £50,000. The money seemed endless. His face was all over the red tops. “The Man With 5 Million Mutts!”. “Pugtrick”. You name it, he was called it.

Tuesday morning he was whisked off to every radio station to speak to the country about his bizarre winnings. The afternoon saw him interviewed on Loose Women, DayBreak and News Night. Every demographic was aware of Patrick and his dogs.

Wednesday he dined and drank with the rich and famous. They hung on his every word. He ate steak and drank champagne and didn’t pay a penny. His phone was filled with phone number after phone number of all the women he’d seen that evening, none of whom would have even looked at him a week ago.

Thursday saw the RSPCA pay a visit to give him the keys to a 12 bedroom manor house on the outskirts of London. “It’s a wonderful old place with 8 acres,” a spokesperson said. “Please have it. It was donated to us by a wealthy deceased sponsor of ours. We don’t want money, we just can’t stand imagining these five million cute pugs all squished up in a one bedroom flat, they need space. Please take care of them.”

Patrick had moved in by Friday evening and as he stepped inside the house, following a trail of doggy carnage, he found a seven-figure-sum advertising contract on his door step that would see him be the new face of Pedigree Chum. He was made for life! He couldn’t believe what these little things were doing for him. He called some of his new friends and partied until Saturday morning. As the celebs and models began leaving, without helping tidy up or even thanking their host, Patrick passed out through exhaustion.

He slept for a full 24 hours.

Eventually Patrick woke up and dragged himself out of bed around 10 or 11.00 am on Sunday morning to the sound of five million pugs crying. ‘Oh bugger,’ thought Patrick. ‘I’ve neglected these poor things.’

Patrick walked down the four flights of stairs in his manor house to his garages. He remembered that someone working for Pedigree Chum mentioned something about “life time supply” of something. He swung open the doors to find tonnes, and I mean tonnes, of meat in jelly.

He opened over 1,000 tins of dog food, all weighing 700 pounds each, and blew a whistle he found in a box. Within seconds, 20 million little paws came pounding into the garage. Patrick giggled as he watched his pugs demolish the food with such ease.

The pugs began to bounce up and down.

“Come on guys!” Patrick yelled. He ran towards the eight acres of land he had. The pugs followed. The jumped and wrestled and climbed on each other. Patrick joined in. They tickled and nibbled and crawled all each other. Tennis balls were thrown. Rivers were swam in. Trees were climbed. Good times were had.

The sun had gone down. Where had the time gone? Patrick led the gang into the lounge, lit a fire and sat on the floor.

He curled up, surrounded by his beloved pugs, and looked at them in a way he’d never looked at anything else before. “Thank you, pugs, you’ve really brightened up my life,” he smiled, stroking a few heads. “I have money, a house, a job and loads of new friends. But it’s not the material joy that you’ve brought to me that I value. No. You’ve given me the internal pleasures I’ve lacked for so long: contentment, peace, love. A sense of purpose. You’re everything I could have asked for and more.”

The pugs looked up at Patrick. He could’ve sworn they all smiled.

“All that’s left then, is to name you all…”

Patrick took a deep breath and began pointing as he reeled off: “John, Joan, Steve, Stevie, Michelle, Michael, Ben, Benny, Mark, Marcel, Natalie, Natasha, Neville, Carey, Jo, Joanna, Jasmine, Clive, Kevin, Karl, Carl, Kent, Clarke, Matt, Martin, Marvin, Clyde, Bliss, Beyonce, Bernard, Burt, Christian, Carly, Jamie, James, Terry, Terri, Terrance, Juliet, Ed, Eddie, Edward, Edmund, Ella, Nella, Bella, Daniel, Dan, Stan, Fran, Brian, Lee, Leigh, Leonard, Mitchell, Jennie, Lenny, Kenny, Chris, Christ, Christoph, Christopher, Damon, Damien, Dawn, Beth, Bethan, Bethany, Rose, Amy, Lesley, Gen, Genevieve, Helen, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Günter, Juan, Celine, David, Sam, Sammy, Samuel, Julianne, Ashley, Janet, Aaron, Lewis, Emma, Pete, Paul, Parker…”

…Patrick slowly drifted off. The pugs crowded round him, like a moving, wheezing, blanket. They looked at each other, nodded, and slowly drifted off to sleep themselves.


© Carl Burkitt 2012


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