On one hand I’m like: Marissa’s just waltzed up in between two massive-ass robots having a tiff to defend Thundercracker despite her tiny squishability because they have the most beautiful relationship ever.
And on the other hand I’m just like: Marissa probably made Thundercracker an overseer because she doesn’t trust in his competence to do any actual construction.
His neighbor had warned him that Buster was a wanderer, but Harvey hadn’t exactly taken it to heart because, firstly: his neighbor is 87 years old and known to forget things, so it’s very possible that she’d actually wandered off from Buster and not the other way around, and secondly: Harvey isn’t incompetent. He can keep an eye on a dog for an hour or so.
Except it turns out she was totally right. All it took was the leash being unclipped and Harvey looking down for a half a second to bundle the leash and Buster was gone.
Which means Harvey is screwed, because this dog is the love of Betty’s life.
He turns a slow 360, eyes tracking every dog in his sight line in the hope that one of them will answer to the name Buster, but he’s out of luck, and Buster is nowhere in sight. So he takes a path and starts jogging down it, calling out Buster’s name, asking people he passes if they’ve seen a golden retriever run by this way.
New Yorkers are not helpful people.
He’s been running around the park for 30 minutes and he’s just about to lose hope when he turns a corner and spies a dog that looks suspiciously like Buster sitting in front of a man seated on a park bench, watching the man happily as the man reads to him.
Harvey isn’t close enough to hear the man speak so he moves closer, stops when he’s still a fair distance away. Buster’s mouth is open in a grin and a light pant, and when the man pauses speaking, Buster nudges his hand with his nose.
He laughs, reaches forward and scratches Buster as he says, “Okay, I get it…don’t stop.”
When he starts to read again, Harvey almost does a double take. Harry Potter?
It’s a well-loved, paperback copy, creased and bent. And when he speaks he gets into it, leaning forward toward Buster.
“The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Harry couldn’t sleep. He shivered and turned over, trying to get comfortable, his stomach rumbling with hunger.”
Buster whimpers and the man stops, looks up, reaches forward and pets him.
“I know. But Hagrid’s coming soon. You’ll like him.”
Harvey smiles to himself, walks over. “I think you have my dog.”
The man looks up, taken aback. He looks down at his book briefly and starts to blush, the color rising in his cheeks. “Sorry…he just…uh…walked up and sat there. And then he nudged the book so I thought he might like it if I read to him.”
Harvey shouldn’t feel so charmed, but the guy is reading his book in the middle of Central Park to a damn lost dog.
The man points the book at him. “Hey, Harry Potter is a new classic, appropriate for all ages and…species.”
“If you say so.”
“Your dog agrees with me.”
“It’s not actually my dog, which explains its suspect taste level.”
The man looks at him strangely, as if Harvey is some deviant with a leash who wanders the park, claiming random, misplaced dogs just to strike up conversation.
He rolls his eyes. “It’s my neighbor’s dog.”
“And you’re walking her dog as a favor in the hopes of getting in her pants?”
“No, she’s too old for me.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
Harvey nods. “She turned eighty-seven last month.”
A slow smile is beginning to grow on his face. “And that doesn’t do it for you?”
“Well, she’s pretty spry so I might’ve gone for it, but she’s always calling me Morty, and really…I deserve better than to live in her dead husband’s shadow.”
The man barks out a laugh and throws his head back and Harvey grins.
“I’m Harvey, by the way.”
Buster leans forward and nudges the book in Mike’s hand. Mike looks down and pets his head but stands, looks at his watch. “Sorry, buddy. I’ve got somewhere I need to be.”
It’s clear he’s not just talking to Buster when Harvey detects the regret seeping into his voice, the sudden downturn of his mouth.
“You’re really going to do that to poor Buster just when Hagrid was about to show up? You’ve got him interested now.”
Mike smiles, slow and wide, and looks away for a moment before he says, “Well…maybe Buster and I should make a date to meet up again. Is he free next Saturday? Same time?”
“I’ll check his calendar.”
Mike nods. “You do that.”
He walks away, down the path, looking over his shoulder once with a smile and shake of his head before he disappears around the bend. Harvey reaches down and clips the leash onto Buster’s collar and says, “Well done little Weasley.”
Betty gives him a bit of a hard time when he asks to walk Buster again the next Saturday, but it’s worth it when they come around the bend in the path and see Mike sitting there on the bench, waiting for them, two cups of coffee sitting on the bench next to him, the book curled in half between his hands. Harvey lets Buster off his leash and Mike looks up and stands when the dog comes bounding toward him, a smile splitting his face. Harvey walks slowly forward, returns Mike’s smile with one of his own.
“So Buster had room in his schedule after all.”
“We squeezed you in.”
They share a grin, hands reaching down blindly to pet Buster when he noses at their hands for attention.
“Besides…he was dying to know what comes next. And I didn’t want to disappoint him. What comes next, Mike?”
Mike bites his lip, looks down at the book in his hands then back up at Harvey.