“Snow, cold, wind, and I am stuck in this train station on Christmas Eve afternoon,” Andy mumbled, looking around the sparsely populated terminal.
“What a way to spend a holiday,” he lamented.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker echoed. “The Silver Streak Express is now arriving. The train’s departure will be delayed due to snow and deteriorating weather conditions.”
“Oh great, I might not get home for Christmas,” Andy said as he got up from the uncomfortable bench seat and walked toward the ticket counter.
After confirming the delay and getting no estimated departure time, Andy returned to his seat and positioned himself between two new weather refugees.
“Stuck here too?” he asked one lady sitting close-by.
“Yes,” she replied, “and it's snowing outside. I’m visiting from Florida and this much snow is exciting.”
“I’m from Chicago so I’m not that thrilled about it,” he explained. “Besides, it might mean we spend Christmas in this train station.”
“Attention!” the loudspeaker blurted again. “No further trains will be arriving or departing this afternoon or evening due to bad weather.”
“Well, that’s it. We’re stranded,” Andy sighed as he rose and walked over to a window.
He noticed the snow was falling at a heavier rate. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a small brown haired animal moving down the whitened sidewalk in a haphazard pattern.
A woman approached, sweeping the floor.
“That looks like a dog out there,” he pointed out the window.
“Yes, that’s Nosee,” the woman responded. “He’s been hanging around here the past week or so. I try to feed him when I can. Oh, and he’s going blind. I call him No - see.”
“Poor little fella,” Andy empathized.
“I heard his owner dumped him,” the lady said. “Maybe they didn’t want a blind or sick dog. It happens you know. Wish I could take him home but I can’t afford it right now. If I take him to the city shelter, he would be put to sleep.”
“It will be getting dark soon and colder too,” Andy noted before returning to his seat.
A few minutes passed and Andy grew increasingly anxious thinking about the plight of the dog.
“I think I will see if I can bring him in here, maybe get him some water and something to eat,” Andy thought, seeking to ease his concern.
He put on his coat and ventured outside in search of Nosee.
“He couldn’t have gone far, he can’t see very well,” Andy recounted, looking high and low for any clue to Nosee’s whereabouts.
“Looks like some tracks in the snow lead over there,” Andy followed into an alley.
“Here boy,” Andy yelled. “Here Nosee …”
Not a sound was heard in response.
Andy turned and walked back toward the street. Looking back one last time, he noticed an old cardboard box on its side in the back corner of the alley.
He hesitated and then decided to walk back and check the box.
Andy stooped down and noticed a familiar little brown haired creature. It was Nosee huddled in the box surrounded by trash.
“Hey Nosee,” Andy offered.
The little dog’s head looked up slowly in Andy’s direction seeming to stare right through him.
“Hi boy,” Andy said as he reached out to cautiously pet Nosee.
Andy noticed the odd looking grey clouded opaque eyes, an indication that Nosee was indeed going blind.
“Let’s get you inside where it’s warm,” he said, scooping up Nosee in his arms.
Drained of energy, the animal did not resist.
After a short walk back into the train station, Andy took off his coat and set the dog down on the bench seat using his coat as a makeshift dog bed.
Andy approached the ticket window and asked if they had a bowl he could use for some water for his new found friend.
“Well, we don’t allow pets in here,” the station clerk said.
“Look, it’s Christmas Eve, and I can’t let the poor animal starve or freeze to death outside,” Andy replied.
“Hmmm,” the clerk thought a moment. “I didn’t see any dog in here. Dog? What dog?”
Both Andy and the clerk smiled.
“See the lady over there about a bowl and water,” the clerk added, pointing to the lady Andy had met earlier sweeping by the window.
Andy and the lady procured a water bowl and a few scraps of roast beef from a lunch box sandwich she had.
After a few sips of water, Nosee scarfed down the roast beef as if he had not eaten for a week.
“Feel better boy?” Andy asked, patting Nosee on the head.
Nosee looked up with a slight whimper. His attempt at a puppy dog smile said it all.
Andy sat there with Nosee in his lap on his folded coat as the evening hours passed.
The terminal grew silent and they both fell asleep.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker blared out for the first time in hours, waking Andy. “The Silver Streak Express will be departing shortly from Gate 2. All passengers please report there.”
The crossroad Andy had been dreading was finally here.
“What to do with you?” he questioned, looking at Nosee.
Nosee looked at Andy with an expression that seemed to say “thank you” yet also “good-bye” as if expecting to be abandoned again.
Andy stood up holding Nosee and strolled in the direction of Gate 2. The station clerk was ahead doubling as ticket checker.
“Well, we don’t allow pets on our trains,” the clerk informed in a deja-vu experience.
“It’s Christmas …” Andy stated before being interrupted.
“I don’t see any dogs here,” the ticket checker smiled, pointing the way to the train.
Andy returned the smile and walked down the corridor, dog in arms, knowing he did the right thing.
Nosee was exhibiting a doggie smile too, panting with tongue hanging out.
Moments before Andy stepped on the train, a familiar sound echoed.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker bellowed, “Merry Christmas … and good luck Nosee.”