This is a story I wrote in response to a writer who challenged me to write a story using just two things: The name “Algernon” and the adjective “bejeweled.” – Molly Campbell

She saw him out of the corner of her eye, trotting down the street. He ducked behind a building. Over the next few days, she saw him a number of times. He was gray, or maybe just filthy. He seemed to have a slight limp. His ears were floppy. He was very, very thin.

She started carrying dog biscuits in her purse. At first, she had to throw them to him so that he wouldn’t flee. But after awhile, she could hold one in her hand, and he would approach skittishly, and take it from her. By this time, she had named him “Algernon,” and she was in love. It took a few weeks, but she could finally pet him.

In the meantime, she had been saving her money, and bit by bit, she bought some dog food, a little bed, a toy or two, and most importantly, a collar and leash. Algernon seemed to trust her, and each day, as she spoke softly to him, she petted him a bit longer. On a Friday, she put on the collar and leash, and she took him with her.

The vet told her that he was around two years old. He guessed that there was maybe some poodle and perhaps a bit of terrier in Algernon. He gave the dog shots, worming medicine, and a bath. As it turned out, Algernon was as white as snow.

She and Algernon became bosom buddies. They watched the neighborhood children play ball. They took lots of walks. Algernon seemed to enjoy donuts, and so they shared one every Friday, to celebrate the day they met. At home, they liked to read books, listen to Mozart, and look out the window.

Time went by, as it has the habit of doing, and Algernon slowed down a bit. He still liked to chase the occasional ball, but grew a bit stiff in the back end. She sometimes had to assist him up the steps. But he still sashayed with style, and she still thought he was the most beautiful dog in the world.

The day came as it always does. They had told her that Algernon would let her know when it was time to let go, and with one look into her eyes, he did. He went quietly and with his usual dignity, as she held him in her arms. She cried.

On her bureau is a framed picture of the dirty gray dog she befriended in the street. In it, he looks warily at the camera, the dog biscuit she has thrown at him at his feet. But there is a gleam in his eyes. Hanging over the corner of the frame is a blue leather dog collar. Embedded in the collar are the five remaining “jewels” that were on the collar when she bought it for him, that day that she decided she would take him home.

NAME: Algernon ADJECTIVE: bejeweled