Chapter 22 – Phil, the Autistic Boy, and Shark Bond

After Pixie and Isaac vanished from Shark’s sight, he sat for a moment to think about his day and the information he picked up around the “Demure”. 

It looked like they were not going to be the only dogs in the club’s vicinity that night. Duke and his pack were frequent Friday visitors; this Friday was not an exception. 

He noticed Duke and his pack of eight wandering around the Chinese food place earlier that day. It was unusual for such a large pack to form in his neighborhood, but there it was. Duke’s pack was wilder than the average urban dogs and unfriendly to other packs. They didn’t like Isaac and Shark as much, especially since Duke got rejected from Marshall’s mentorship. 

The old pug decided not to take him under his guidance as Duke was reluctant to listen. He was stubborn, but not stubborn in the way Isaac and Shark were, just bullheaded, fighting against everyone else’s will for nothing. He lacked discipline and humility – two critical attributes that were required to get on Marshall’s team. 

Since the rejection, Duke carried resentment towards Marshall, Isaac, and Shark. The basset wasn’t as convinced that Duke is not their friend but Shark was suspicious. 

Maybe it was because of his lost faith in others due to his sad destiny with Matias, who knows? Or maybe he was just overly cautious. Regardless of what was the reason for the mistrust, he was in an alert mode as far as Duke and his pack were around. 

In all that mess, Shark loved the Chinese food place because of one very important reason: Phillip. 

Just as Isaac befriended Daisy, the ice cream girl, Shark had an unusual sympathy for Phillip. Phillip, or Phil, as Shark loved to call him, came to visit his father at least once a week. James, his dad, was a vet whose office was just a few shops away from the Chinese place. Sometimes, when his dad was called for emergencies, Phil stayed over the weekend, keeping him company with the sick animals. It was the most fun Shark, the abandoned corgi, ever had with a human after Matias left him. 

Shark didn’t like hanging around grownups too much – they were loud, always in a hurry, and traitors, just like Matias. It couldn’t escape him that even the dog owners who brought their home dogs to the vet for interventions were like that. 

“How do these dogs manage to stay calm and be so happy?” Shark often wondered seeing his canine friends driving around in cars, being carried in fancy bamboo baskets, and getting spa treatments every two months. 

But Phil, the boy? Phil was something different. He spent most of his time alone and he rarely spoke a word. He was unusually silent for a small boy, but that’s exactly why Shark grew fond of him. 

Shark knew that Phil was special but he didn’t know why not that he needed any explanation. Phil was autistic and, just as much as Shark, he didn’t like spending too much time around people. He preferred to be left alone, minding his own business. 

After having finished his Friday afternoon quest for leftovers around the Chinese place, Shark hopped over to the vet’s office to see if the boy was there. It was Friday, so it was entirely possible that he was. 

He looked through the glass, and much to his delight, noticed Phillip sitting close to the window. He had something in his hands, a weird quadruple bird with eyes in the center, and one other thing with buttons that Phil was currently obsessively investigating. Shark had no idea what that was. 

“Hmm, what sort of bird is this? I haven’t seen anything like it – it has four wings. Are those wings? What’s that sound it is making? Well, it’s not that terrible, it’s quieter than the hair dryer, that’s for sure.” Shark’s thoughts accelerated as he was trying to get to the grip with Phil’s new drone and remote control. 

Suddenly, Phil lifted his eyes and noticed Shark seating by the window. The boy wasn’t scared. He calmly took his drone and his remote and got out. He stared at Shark for ten seconds or so as he was talking to him without words. 

Shark wasn’t afraid of the boy. His mouth was open and his tongue out, he was smiling. The boy walked to the tiny nearby park, which, luckily, was well lit, because it was already getting pretty dark. 

His drone lit up, too. Shark watched what happened with an open mouth. He was curious. Phil pushed a button, the quadruple bird lifted up and started flying, circling around their heads. 

Both the boy and the corgi looked at the drone above for a few minutes until a worried voice yelled from across the street:

“Phil! Phil, what are you doing out there? I told you not to go out on your own, especially after dark!” James, his dad ran over the street in what seemed like only two seconds. 

”Gosh, I have one surgery taking longer than anticipated and you are already doing your own thing!”, continued the vet, calming his voice and gently hugging the boy, touching him cautiously around his shoulders, as the self-awareness struck him, warning him that he might stress the calm boy without any true need. 

“Come on, let’s get inside for now. I need to complete some paperwork: the handover with shift number two is due in five minutes. You know that I am the duty vet this weekend. We have plenty of time to play with the drone tomorrow. And we will have daylight, too. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks fine.” 

Shark ran away further and hid behind the nearby building once he noticed the grownup approaching.

Looking at the clear night sky, James abandoned the green park, throwing one long look at Shark at the end. James’ sad look was clearly saying that he had seen too many stray dogs for whom he could do nothing. 

As he was getting inside to provide care for the dog that would soon wake up on the surgery table, James sighed heavily and closed the door behind him, glad that he brought Phil to safety.       

Featured Image Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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