Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Dumb Beasts" – my first pet noir

from Dumb Beasts, from Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Authors

I really didn’t want to go over when Mrs. M. called. Sheila, as I think of her. With most people I’m on a first-name basis immediately. They’ve invited me into their homes, into some of their most intimate relationships, after all. It only makes sense. But not her. We were introduced formally the first time I came over, but although I immediately reached out, saying, “It’s Beth. Please, call me Beth,” she never reciprocated.

Her husband’s another sort entirely. I think it was his idea to call me the first time. At any rate, he was the one who cared, who wanted everyone to get along. She might’ve complained about the noise, though. I wouldn’t have put that past her.

It was a compatibility issue, that first time. The dog had been hers originally, a yappy little Yorkshire terrier, spoiled and insecure. More of a fashion accessory than a companion, I figured, them both being blondes and all. The Yorkie had been understandably unsettled when they had moved into his townhouse. The presence of his pets – a cat, a parrot, an aquarium full of fish – didn’t help the Yorkie’s mood, and, to be fair, the cat – an elderly Persian – hadn’t made it any easier. But I think they would have worked it out. Animals do. She was the problem. Couldn’t stand the barking, the hissing, the squawking.

I tried to tell her it was all part of the change, everybody finding their new place in the social order. She was having none of it. I thought that what really got her was Bridget’s betrayal. Bridget – that’s the Yorkie – took to Paul right away. I try to keep my feelings out of it. I’m not here for the people anyway. It’s all about the animals. ...

What do you think?
By the way, there's a book launching party for
Deadfall next Tuesday, Dec. 16, at Redbones, in Davis Square, Somerville, 5:30-7 p.m. Come by and say hi. We'll have books for sale, and you can also order it here.

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