Friday, November 02, 2007

Chapter Four

Harold sat up and wiped his eyes. Arlo took that as his cue to jump onto the couch and settle himself next to him.

“You know you’re not allowed up here, boy. You know what Fanny would do if she saw you on her couch.” Just saying her name was all it took to make him cry again. Arlo put his big white paw on Harold’s knee and ran his tongue over his cheek. Harold wrapped his arms around the Samoyed and hugged him.

“Need to go for a walk, boy? Get your leash.” Arlo bounded off the couch and raced to the hook where his leash was hanging. Harold fastened the leash to the eager dog’s collar, stuffed a bag in his pocket and let Arlo lead him to the back door. He paused for a moment and looked back at the telephone, reluctant to leave. What if Fanny tried to call him? Or the police? But Arlo was tugging him impatiently through the door.

Once outside the dog went immediately went to his favorite azalea bush and peed for ninety seconds straight.

“Poor boy. When did Fanny take you out last?”

In response, Arlo squatted, bringing his furry bottom very close to the ground and deposited a prodigious amount of poop in the middle of plot of earth that Fanny had selected to plant her bulbs. When Harold knelt down to pick up the Arlo’s poop he notices that the ground was untouched. Obviously Fanny hadn’t made it very far down her “to do” list.

Having disposed of his most urgent needs, Arlo was letting Harold know he was ready for his usual evening circuit of the neighborhood by pulling relentlessly on his leash.

“Easy boy. Easy.” Harold gripped the leash tightly and tried to restrain his sixty pound dog but, as always, he was forced to give in an allow Arlo to have his way. The dog behaved for Fanny, but not for him. Maybe it was because she was the one that spent all those hours in the conformation and obedience classes before admitting that Arlo was simply not cut out for the dog show ring.

Instead of heading for the street, Arlo surprise Harold by pulling him back toward the house where he eagerly attacked the bags of groceries that were piled near the front door. Harold hadn’t noticed them when he came home but it was dark and he was distracted by collected the mail from the box and keeping Arlo from escaping when he opened the front door.

Harold picked up the plastic bags and carried them into the kitchen. His examination of the contents yielded nothing out of the ordinary. Low fat organic yogurt, decaffeinated coffee, unsalted cashews, apples, beets, feta cheese, arugala, spinach and Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing. Fanny had been rigorous in helping him follow the diet that Dr. Burger had prescribed for him. At first he’d dismissed the idea that his chronic back pain was the result of his “stressed” adrenals, but after almost three months or organic foods and no caffeine, sugar or salt Harold had to admit his back no longer bothered him. Fanny adhered to the eating plan herself – in spite of the fact that her back (and apparently her adrenals) were perfect. Her only vice now was an occasional Diet Pepsi while she prepared dinner.

He was about to stuff the empty plastic bags in the trash when it occurred to him to check to see it there was a register receipt. That is something Fanny would do. She was addicted to crime drams and she could always figure out “who did it” long before he could. Her pronouncements were always accompanied by a triumphant “I could write these things!”

Harold pulled the register receipt from the bag. As he expected it was date and time stamped. Fannie had checked out at 9:03 AM that morning. She would have come straight home from the market meaning she would have gotten back home no later than 10:00 AM but apparently something or someone had interrupted her before she went inside the house.



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