He thought about the midnight yelling, the way she would sometimes spontaneously burst into show tunes while watering the plastic plants on her front porch. These things had not struck Will as particularly odd, especially considering the eccentricities of the neighborhood. It was hard to stick out on a street that had six hippies living in a one-bedroom, rainbow-colored house; an abandoned Weiner Mobile up on blocks in front of a Mennonite church; and a six-foot-four functional illiterate who walked a toy dog on a hot pink leash.

The woman had a staple gun, which she used to attach what looked like a homemade For Sale By Owner sign to the wooden stake. “There,” she said. “That should do it.” She turned back to Will. “Somebody will come by in a day or so to clear out the house.”


She slid her shoe back on, then threw the stapler into her car.

“Wait,” Will said.

She got in her car anyway, rolling down the window as she cranked the engine. “What is it?”

“The dog,” he said, holding up Betty-if, indeed, that was her real name. “What should I do with her?”

“I don’t care,” she answered, her lip curling up again as she looked at the dog. “Mother couldn’t stand the little rat.”

“She told me to brush it,” he said, as if this would alter her memory.

“She probably said to flush it.”


The woman turned shrill. “Oh, for the love of God, just take her to the pound!

She glanced over her shoulder then backed straight out of the driveway, nearly running over a passing jogger. Both men watched as the car careened into the street, sideswiping Will’s trashcan.

The jogger smiled at Will, asking, “Bad day?”

“Yeah.” Will wasn’t as polite as he should have been, but he had bigger issues to deal with at the moment.

He looked down at Betty. She leaned her head against his chest, her bug eyes half-closed in ecstasy, tongue lolled to the side, as she stared back up at him. If she had been a cat, she would have purred.

“Crap,” he muttered, heading back toward his house.

He remembered what the woman had said, could still hear her screeching voice ringing in his ears. Inside, he put Betty down and she skittered across the floor, jumped on the couch and settled in on her usual cushion.

Will closed the front door with a heavy sigh. A man who has grown up in an orphanage cannot take a dog to the pound.

Even if it is a Chihuahua.

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