Only One in Seventeen Million
It was Friday at last. It was Friday, the day everyone couldn’t wait for. Tom’s alarm clock would go off in two minutes. Just before 6:30, Tom’s dog Stanley would wake him up as he usually did by barking.
“Johnson, wake up. Johnson, wake up,” Stanley said.
Tom rolled over in his bed and said, “Just five more minutes, Stanley.”
Stanley spoke again.
“Johnson, you have to go to school. Wake up, Johnson!”
“My name isn’t Johnson, Stanley… It’s Thomas…”
“Whatever, Joseph, I mean, Thomas. Just wake up, already!” Stanley shouted.
Suddenly Tom was wide awake. He looked down at Stanley and shook his head.
“No, it can’t be….” Tom laughed to himself and began to get dressed. By the time he started to spike up his hair, Tom had completely forgotten about what had happened.
“Gee, I was wondering when you’d get out of bed, Maxwell. Now get me my breakfast!” Stanley barked. Tom screamed and jumped nearly three feet in the air.
“MY NAME ISN’T MAXWELL!” he shouted to his dog. “Nor is it Johnson or Joseph. IT’S THOMAS!”
Stanley looked innocently at his master.
“And you’re not supposed to be talking. YOU’RE JUST A STUPID DOG!” Tom yelled.
Stanley was offended by that. Tom had never called him stupid before.
“That wasn’t very nice, Alexander. Haven’t you learned anything in the past twelve years of your life?” Stanley asked.
Tom walked away from his dog. He grabbed his books and walked over to the school without any breakfast. He met his friends in the cafeteria, who were somehow still earlier than he was.
“Hey, you’re early today, Tom,” his friend Bob said.
“Did your mom tell you not to be late for school again?” his other friend Jon joked.
“No, it was my dog,” Tom explained. “He was talking.”
His friends looked at him. Then they started laughing so hard that they could hardly speak.
“Oh, yeah, Stanley talks all the time,” Bob said sarcastically. “And yesterday, my parents won the lottery!” Bob and Jon slapped each other a high five and kept joking until they were allowed to go to their lockers. When they got to homeroom, Jon and Bob wouldn’t stop making fun of Tom. They kept doing it all day. Tom couldn’t wait to get away from them.
He got a break at fifth period. His friends didn’t make it into pre-algebra like he did, so they couldn’t be in his class.
The bell rang just as Tom sat down. Mr. Lawrence walked into the room and said, “Today’s Logless Friday, so you can take out your homework right away. I’ll put the answers up shortly.”
Tom frantically searched through his notebook for it. Mr. Lawrence was already at the row next to his, checking to see if all of the homework was in. He couldn’t find his homework because apparently he didn’t do it.
“Where’s your homework, Tom?” Mr. Lawrence asked him when he got there. Tom said the first thing that came to his head.
“Um, my dog ate it,” Tom lied. He instantly thought of how stupid that was. No one ever believed that excuse.
“Oh, your dog eats homework?” Mr. Lawrence said. “I’d bet a bundle your dog talks too.”
The whole class started laughing at Tom.
“Yeah, he does,” Tom mumbled without even thinking. Everyone started laughing even more loudly at that remark. Tom couldn’t wait to get out of there, even though he would here more jokes about him from his friends. But that was better than having twenty-four other people laughing at him.
The rest of the day went unbelievably slowly for Tom. Jon and Bob teased him all through lunch and through study hall. Mr. Marino made them do improvisation in drama class, which wasn’t Tom’s strength. What made it worse was that his situation was about the tricks his dog could do, with each lie becoming even bigger. Bob and Jon laughed to themselves when Tom said that his dog could talk. And in eighth period, Mrs. Blank had them write notes as they usually did, but today, they were three pages worth of loose-leaf.
Finally, ninth period came around. Although English with Ms. Anircam wasn’t his favorite subject, he was glad that the day was almost over, and Jon and Bob weren’t in this class.
Tom loved English class on this particular day. It was his best class today because nothing went wrong. All he had to do was write a story about a talking pet, which was about what had happened to him on that Friday in September (which also oddly sounds exactly like this story your reading). At quarter of three, Tom handed in his story.
“It looks like you worked a lot harder than you usually do,” Ms. Anircam said. “You can write well when you want to, Tom.”
Tom didn’t know what to say to that.
“Um, yeah… I guess,” Tom said.
“Don’t you think it would be funny if dogs could speak in English words?” Ms. Anircam asked, changing the subject.
Tom instantly thought of Stanley and said, “No, absolutely not!”
Ms. Anircam was a bit taken aback by how sure Tom was of his answer. It’s almost as if he knows a talking dog, she thought. “Well, you better get ready to go, Tom,” she said, changing the topic again.
Tom nodded and went back to his seat. The bell rang in about thirty seconds, and everyone rushed out of the classroom.
While Tom was at his locker, Bob and Jon came up behind him.
“Shut up,” Tom said.
His friends laughed and walked away. Tom shook his head and said to himself, “I wish Stanley never started talking.” Tom shut his locker and left the school.
When he got outside, Stanley was there waiting for him. Tom hoped he wouldn’t cause any trouble.
“Hey, Francis, I’m sorry I ate your pre-algebra homework. There was just nothing else to eat,” Stanley told him.
Tom stared at him in disbelief.
“You mean you really ate my homework?” he asked.
“Yeah, why do you ask?” Stanley said.
“I told Mr. Lawrence that.”
“Told me what?” a voice asked behind him.
Tom was startled. He turned around and said, “Um, hello, Mr. Lawrence.”
“What did you tell me?” Mr. Lawrence repeated.
“Um, I, uh, I told you that, uh, Stanley ate my, um, what’s it called? Oh yeah. My homework thing,” Tom told him.
“Stanley?” Mr. Lawrence asked. “Is he your talking dog?”
“Yes,” Tom answered.
Suddenly, Stanley jumped out from behind Tom.
“Hi, are you Estanislao’s teacher?” Stanley said.
“Who?” Tom and Mr. Lawrence asked simultaneously.
“Estanislao. Him,” the dog said with his paw pointing to Tom.
“How?” Mr. Lawrence murmured. “How can this be?”
Stanley and Tom stared at Mr. Lawrence.
“How can what be?” Stanley asked.
“How can you talk?” Mr. Lawrence cried, pointing to Stanley with his finger an inch away from his nose.
“Well, you can talk,” Stanley pointed out.
“B-B-B-But you’re a dog!” Mr. Lawrence sputtered. “You’re supposed to speak Doggese, or Doglish, or Doggian, or whatever your language is!”
“Try English,” Stanley suggested.
“No! I’m going to prove that dogs can’t talk and that I’m just hallucinating! Ha! Ha!!” Mr. Lawrence laughed out loud. Then he ran around in circles as if he were insane until he finally went to his car.
After he was out of sight, Tom and Stanley started walking home.
“I think Mr. Lawrence has gone a little nuts,” Tom said.
“A little nuts?”
“Okay, a lot more than a little nuts.”
“I figured he would,” Stanley said.
“Why?” Tom asked.
“Because only one in seventeen million dogs can speak in words.”
“Stanley, maybe you should just talk to me from now on.”
“Okay,” Stanley said. “Just you, Tom.”
“Thanks,” Tom said. Then he paused. “Only one in seventeen million? Boy, am I lucky!”