He sits tall in the back, happy to be invited, not left behind. His pink tongue lolls out the side of his mouth. The window is down, and occasionally the flash of pink disappears so he can sniff at the air rushing through.
Then it is back, and he grins, long and wide. Normally so serious, so stoic, he sits in the back like a king and grins a goofy grin.
Until we reach the drive-through.
The first time, I don’t notice until the flurry of sniffs that come my way when I accept my crinkly, brown paper bag—except I’m expecting those. The girl in the window grins at me.
The second time, I see him watching. His tongue is gone, tucked away in the face of seriousness. We are at the window, and as I hand over my card, he pokes his nose over the shoulder of my seat and has a good sniff. I try not to giggle as his breath tickles at my ear, and take my card back. The boy in the window is trying to hide his smile.
The third time I’m on the look out for it. I see him watching from the back seat, his head perked forward in intensity, his eyes focused on our hands as we exchange the card, his head cocked to one side.
The fourth time, I don’t even make it. I’m looking for my handbag.
‘You ready to go?’ I call absentmindedly.
But he doesn’t answer. There’s no patter of claws on the wooden floors. No scurry of movement as I invite him along. At first, I’m too distracted. Where is my card? And why was my wallet on the ground instead of in my handbag?
‘Jasper!’ I call, deciding that my card must be in a pair of jeans or shorts—lucky I have cash.
But he never comes.
First I check the yard. Then I run the street, calling his name. I’m not panicking. I’m not freaking out. I grab my keys and jump into my car, my tires squealing only a little as I skid out of the driveway a little too fast. The streets seem unbearably empty, but I find one person, and pull over.
‘Black dog? Yeah, I saw one. Collie looking thing.’
‘He’s a Kelpie.’
‘Yeah, might’ve been him. Down that way. Near the drive-through.’
For some reason, his words stick with me. The drive-through?
An inkling, an idea of where he might have gone.
As I pull into the car park, there’s a commotion. People are getting out of their cars, standing around, pointing and laughing. Someone has their camera out, filming.
And there, in the middle of the driveway, beneath the serving window, is a black dog. He sits there, one ear perked up and the other swivelling about—listening. He stares up at the girl in the window, who appears quite baffled.
In his mouth, is my missing credit card.