A Short Story – Jan. 17, 2010 – “Small Favours”
A Short Story
by Chris Hibbard
Thursday was Peet’s birthday, but nobody remembered except for one dolphin. That strange little honour almost made Peet feel all right about the snub. He had taken no calls from old friends, received no letters from relatives and hadn’t even been offered a kind word or after-work beer from the other aquarium staff. Granted, Peet had never made any effort to spread the word about his turning 31 years old, but he still half-expected and half-hoped that someone would just simply know.
So when Pippin, the youngest bottlenose dolphin in the water park appeared, clicking and whistling madly, only to blast ten feet high out of the water, covering Peet in salty brine before regurgitating a small mackerel that landed between Peet’s sodden legs, it was an unexpected surprise. Still chirping and ticking in small sonic compressions, Pippin stood tall on his tail and danced backwards across the surface of the 60,000-gallon tank.
“How did you know Pip?” Peet asked aloud, fondly rubbing the dolphin’s now-exposed belly with affection. “You’re the only one I know that’s even smiled at me today – and you’re not even human.”
Backing away from the edge of the pool, Peet tossed the soggy, half-chewed mackerel high in the air, watching Pippin slide gracefully into the depths before leaping into the air for a perfect catch and swallow combination.
Peet retreated to the nearby storage closet with the Happy Birthday song playing in his mind. Grabbing his mop and bucket, Peet headed for the sink, ready to shine the public area floors one more time.