“She’s so cute!” Vicki gushed, causing several heads to turn in their direction at the Razzle Dazzle, Lisa’s favorite café. She and Glen would walk downtown every Saturday afternoon to visit restaurants with outdoor seating. That is, until he decided to spend more time at the office to guarantee his “promotion.”
“Hah!” Lisa thought. “Another hint ignored.”
Phoebe’s tail wagged violently at the lavish attention, and Lisa had to admit the dog was cute, in a Benji sort of way. It was just after noon, and Lisa was starving. She hadn’t felt this hungry in days – maybe even hungry enough to eat a huge Razzle Dazzle sandwich concoction. But ever since she woke up that morning, she felt different: happy…energetic…alive.
“I haven’t seen you guys in a while,” Vicki said, smiling. “What does Glen think of her?”
Lisa wrapped Phoebe’s leash around her wrist. “Um…he really hasn’t said anything.”
She wondered if a protocol existed for informing your favorite waitperson of a recent relationship failure. Was it the first time you show up without him? The second time? When you dine with a dog instead?
“Besides,” Lisa continued. “I’m just watching her until the new owner picks her up tomorrow.”
“Too bad,” Vicki said cheerfully, placing flatware and a napkin on the table. “I’ll be right back with your iced tea.”
The day’s gorgeous weather beckoned the masses outdoors, and to Lisa’s amazement, Phoebe was the center of canine attention. What was it about having a dog that compelled people who would normally not give you a second look to start up whole conversations consisting of questions and answers about your pet’s breed, name, age and sex (unless, of course, the dog’s name is Ralph or Suzy. A nebulous name like Peanut or Spunky begs curiosity). Lisa was relieved that Phoebe seemed to tolerate all the attention and she even posed for a young girl taking photographs of downtown dogs. The canine behaved perfectly during each interaction until a man carrying a large shopping bag walked by. Phoebe instantly darted out from under the table, snarling menacingly at the man as only a small hairy dog could. The man
“She was perfectly behaved, until…”
shielded himself with the bag as he backed slowly away. While she tried to calm Phoebe, Lisa suddenly noticed the bag’s color.
“Sorry…she hates purple,” Lisa told him, knowing full well the explanation sounded ridiculous.
“What?” the man asked.
“Your bag…it’s purple,” Lisa pointed out. “She freaks out when she sees purple.”
“Not likely,” the man replied, irritated. “Dogs are color blind.” He rushed away, and Lisa thought she heard him yell a few obscenities before disappearing around the corner.
“ISN’T THAT BILL AND SHARON’S DOG?”
Lisa was glancing at the mail while Phoebe attacked the asters. They had just returned from downtown, an eight-block walk, and Lisa was tired and thirsty. She tugged Phoebe away from the now unearthed, limp flowers and walked around the corner of the house.
“Fran?” Lisa called out, scanning her neighbor’s backyard for signs of movement.
Fran appeared from behind a large yew, and Lisa noticed the older woman carried a large hacksaw in her gloved hand.
“I’ve been trimming the bushes,” her neighbor said, explaining the obvious. “I have to be able to see out the windows.”
Lisa smiled sympathetically. Fran started toward her but stopped suddenly when she spied Phoebe.
“That dog. Is it friendly?” Fran asked worriedly.
“Of course. Just don’t come near her with anything purple,” Lisa explained. “It makes her crazy.”
Fran pulled off one glove. “Can’t say I’m fond of the color.”
“I know. I only planted the asters and petunias because Glen…” Lisa stopped.
“It’s okay,” Fran said softly. “I know he left.”
“How?” Lisa asked, surprised.
“The night he moved out…I was on my front porch,” Fran explained. “I thought I heard unfamiliar noises. I wasn’t snooping, really. Just watching.”
“I know you weren’t snooping,” Lisa smiled warmly. “Actually, I’m glad you’re so alert to what goes on.”
“Are you going to keep her?”
“Bill’s sister is coming down from Lansing tomorrow to pick her up,” Lisa explained, and Fran just nodded.
Both women watched Phoebe follow a large black ant along the driveway and stop abruptly when the ant disappeared inside a wide, dark crack. The dog stared at the fissure as if expecting the ant to return, and when it didn’t she gave a loud bark, which made both women laugh.
“Well, I’d better get back to my pruning,” Fran said, gesturing to the sprawling shrub she had materialized from. “I’m sorry about you and Glen.”
Lisa wanted to say “Don’t bother being sorry for a relationship doomed to fail” but she didn’t. Instead, she gave Phoebe’s leash a gentle tug and spent the afternoon inside boxing up every “Glen” item she could find. Then she dialed his cell phone and was not surprised when she heard his recorded message.
“It’s me. The rest of your stuff is packed. Call me when you want to pick it up. If I don’t hear from you by next weekend, it goes to the recycling center.”
Lisa disconnected and smiled at Phoebe, who was busy tearing Glen’s purple tennis shorts to shreds.
Next Up: Part 6
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