‘Brilliant! Love it!’ cried Creamy, looking at their shoe shine stand: brushes, polish and cloths laid out neatly on a shelf under a big board. On the board, in large bold lettering, were the words:
Highest Gloss in Town
‘Yes, not bad – even if I say so myself,’ smiled Lennie with quiet satisfaction, looking at the shiny lettering, which they had done in black boot polish only moments before.
The idea of setting up a shoe shine service came to Lennie after he had watched a man outside a café getting his shoe shine stand ready. Later, as he was explaining his idea to Creamy, he added at the end: ‘and we can go one better!’
‘How?’ asked Creamy, all eagerness, for he thought there might be another pistachio ice-cream in it for him. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, firstly, there are two of us; secondly, we can do what old Pete can't: we can lick boots! And believe you me, my friend, there is no better way of putting a real shine on shoes than that!’
‘You mean actually licking shoes with our tongues?’ asked Creamy.
‘Of course with our tongues,’ replied Lennie, ‘with what else? Anyway, licking is what we do well. In fact, some dogs go so far as to lick people's faces.’
‘Really?’ marvelled Creamy, ‘I mean er … of course we do! Should be a doddle, I mean,’ he gushed, hoping Lennie hadn't noticed his slip of tongue.
But Lennie was thinking mainly of how to make most money out of their venture. ‘I was thinking,’ he said, ‘that to make a lot of money we should go upmarket.’
‘How do you mean up the market? Up what market?’
‘No, no, Creamy, not up the market – just upmarket, which means a very high class sort of place, where we can charge outrageous prices for shining shoes,’ laughed Lennie, ‘places like outside big banks, or….’
‘Or big hotels,’ Creamy said, hoping he got it right.
‘Exactly. And the first thing we must do is have a high class name for our shoe shine stand.’
And so it came about that at lunch time they were sitting each on one side of their ‘boutique’, and smiling hopefully up at everyone coming out of the bank door.
‘I only hope that business is as good as it was this morning,’ Lennie said softly to Creamy. ‘An afternoon like that and we’ll be well on the way to pay for our tickets to St Petersburg!’
‘Great! And will there be any money left also for … Hey!’ cried Creamy and jerked his head back suddenly, as a large foot came down with a thud on the footrest in front of him, missing his nose by a whisker. ‘What do you think you're doing!’
The man opened his mouth, but Lennie got in ahead of him. ‘Sorry, sir. We are at your service. My friend is a little nervous, as it's his first day on the job, you see.’
The man looked down his nose at Creamy, and drawled: ‘Is it, now. Well, he'd better make a good job of it – especially seeing the prices you charge.’
‘Yes, sir,’ smiled Lennie, ‘I'm sure he will. Oh, if you'll excuse me, I see I have a customer waiting,’ and he dashed off to his side of the stand.