The Swop

They both heard it. A quiet coughing and then a snapping for air. The owner of the kiosk had just placed the illustrated magazine on the table while the woman searched her purse for change. She looked down. “Tommy, what’s the matter?” she called, startled. Her Yorkshire terrier lay, lifelessly, on the ground. “That can happen so fast”, murmured the shopkeeper. “Probably a heart attack”, he thought, “too well fed”. The dog was dead, no doubt about it. But what to do now?

The lifeless body could certainly not remain in the shop. But neither did the woman want to carry her dead dog through the village in front of everyone and get caught up in a conversation on every street corner. “Have you perhaps got a box?” she asked. The shopkeeper went into the back and returned. “This is all I’ve got.” He handed her a printed box which had contained a small portable television set a few days earlier. After the dog was packed away in it, the woman left the electronics shop. In front of the shop she met a young man who, loudly and with a distinct foreign accent, shouted: “They all racist, hate foreigners! No one will change!” Angrily he waved his fifty Euro note back and forth in front of the old woman’s face. “But that must be possible!” said the woman. “Come, I’ll change it for you in the electronics shop. Just hold the box for me please while you wait.” The young man nodded contentedly. When the woman returned with the money, he was gone. To her shock, there was also no sign of the box.

“I would like to hand in fifty euros here”, said the old woman later at the police station. “Where did you find it?” asked the police officers and listened to what had happened. “Keep the money”, they said. “It will be difficult to find the right owner.”

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