Written with my Thursday night writing group with a wild bunch of prompts, including: the dead man’s boxes (which we all changed to boxers), what is different today? No such thing as–, a jar of homegrown pansies, keep it local, later we went dancing, melted her heart
Last night Betsy’s brother Tom called and asked if she wanted the dead man’s boxers. “Excuse me?” Betsy said, quite certain she had misunderstood.
“My neighbor passed this afternoon,” he told her. “He had a heart attack right out on the front lawn. Right when he was coming home from walking his dogs. Two dogs—a father and son—you know, the pick of the litter—both boxers.”
Betsy sat down, holding the phone and gritting her teeth. “Why would I want two dogs?”
“They’re beautiful dogs, Betsy,” Tom said. “They’d be great protection for you.”
Betsy angled the phone away from her face as she snorted in disdain. Her whole family had been pandering to her ever since her husband Bob left her for the twenty-something barista at the Starbucks between the Whole Foods and the Family Fitness Center. Betsy hardly thought a couple of dogs was going to solve her problems.
Before she could craft an appropriately sarcastic response, she heard her sister-in-law’s voice through the line. “Betsy,” she said in her nasaly patter. “Betsy, you have to see these dogs. They’re adorable. Mr. Hendrix’s daughter says they’re going straight to the pound. Just come see them.”
“Twyla,” Betsy began, struggling to control her volume, but again she had no chance to speak.
“Oh, never mind, Betsy,” Twyla said, “Tom’s getting the dogs into the car. We’ll be there in ten minutes.”
Betsy slammed down the phone, looking frantically about for her purse and jacket. She’d leave for San Francisco right now, that’s what she’d do. Or maybe she’d go to Tahoe. Or Disneyland. She’d never done Disneyland alone. That might be interesting as well as surreal. No, better keep it local. Oh, where had she left her coat? Here was her purse; but where were her keys? She stepped over newspapers scattered on the floor, then bent down to paw through empty candy wrappers, magazines, electronic devices, kindle, iPod, iPad, three remotes—no keys, no keys, no keys! Rats!! The doorbell rang. She heard barking.
Tom, Twyla, and the boxers stood three feet back, looking calm and respectful, as if wanting to prove how disciplined the canines were. Then Twyla bounded forward with a jar of home grown pansies. Betsy pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. If they thought a jar of half wilted flowers was going to melt her heart, they were sadly mistaken.
“I don’t think you should come in,” Betsy said, but Tom just laughed.
“Don’t think?” he repeated in his charmed though affected way. Tom always got what he wanted because he was articulate and firm. He owned his desires and he owned his rejection too. He told Betsy this repeatedly. She was a pushover, whiney, and wishy-washy. “Betsy!” he exclaimed. “Just look at these faces.”
Then Betsy caved. She looked at the dogs and their sad doe eyes. Oh, God they were grieving, these dogs. Their human had died. They needed a new home. They were scared. They were vulnerable. “Only for tonight,” Betsy said, and she opened the door.
In the morning, Betsy awoke and something had changed. “What is different today?” she wondered. Then she remembered the dogs, shut out of the bedroom. She had a moment of worry. What if they’ve ripped up the couch, broken into the cupboards, knocked down knickknacks and curtain rods? She arose and cautiously opened her bedroom door.
The dogs had been busy. They’d been cleaning all night. They were magical dogs and what?—wait, you think there’s no such thing as magical dogs? Well, you’d be wrong, because these boxers were magic!
Later, the three of them went out dancing.