When the doorbell rang just after eleven the next morning, Lisa expected it to be Glen. But when she yanked open the door, a short, gray-haired woman occupied the porch. And she didn’t seem happy to be there.
“Can I help you?” Lisa asked through the screen door.
“I’m Debbie Krapps,” the woman answered.
“Krapps?” Lisa asked.
“Bill’s sister!” the woman said testily. “You know…the dog.”
She emphasized the word “dog” like one might say “diarrhea.”
“Sure…come in,” Lisa said, opening the door.
“I’m all for marital traditions, but in this case I’d chuck contemporary customs out the window and keep my maiden name,” Lisa thought.
“Call me Debbie,” the woman commanded.
“You came from Lansing?” Lisa tried to sound as pleasant as possible.
“Yeah…what’s with all that construction on US-23?” Debbie Krapps griped, as if she expected Lisa to know the intricacies of county road construction. “I’m gonna hit it going back, too. I’ll be late for my hair appointment–and she opened on a Sunday just for me!”
Don’t we wish?
Lisa glanced at her visitor’s hair and frowned.
“So, where’s the damn dog?” Debbie practically shouted.
“You don’t like dogs?” Lisa asked apprehensively. “Why would you come from–”
“Bill was desperate,” she interrupted. “His loudmouthed wife was giving him an act but good. Serves him right for marrying her. But…he is my kid brother.”
Lisa heard toenails clicking on the floor and turned toward the kitchen. Phoebe stood warily at the entrance of the dining room.
“That it?” Debbie asked disdainfully.
“That’s…Phoebe,” Lisa answered slowly.
Debbie took one step toward the dog but Phoebe suddenly bolted straight for the woman’s purse.
“What the….” Debbie screamed.
“Phoebe! Down!” Lisa commanded, but the dog refused to release her hold.
“This dog is vicious!” the woman screamed again, hitting Phoebe with her free hand.
Lisa finally realized what possessed the dog – the purse had a large embroidered purple flower on its side.
“Your purse!” Lisa yelled, grasping Phoebe around the middle and pulling. “She hates purple!”
Debbie gave one final yank and the purse sprang free from the dog’s mouth. The woman opened the door and threw it onto the porch. Then she slammed it hard and spun around, her face red with anger.
“That dog is a menace,” she roared. “When I take the beast to the pound tomorrow I’ll gladly pay any amount to make sure they put it down!”
“Excuse me?” Lisa almost shouted. “You weren’t going to keep her?”
“Of course not.” The woman’s tone suggested she thought Lisa dull-witted. “Me and my husband Jasper have birds. Parrots. Six of them. Can’t have a dog around birds.”
Doggies beware! There are five more just like me!
Lisa had to force herself to breathe slowly. She left the room and returned with a piece of paper and a pencil.
“Where’s all the dog stuff?” Debbie asked. “Not that she’s going to need it.”
Lisa glared at the woman.
“Tell you what I’m going to do–I’m going to draw you a map,” Lisa told her. “It’s an alternate route to Lansing that bypasses US-23. You’ll make it home in less than an hour.”
For the next five minutes the woman stood uneasily next to the door and said nothing as Lisa carefully drew the map.
“There,” Lisa said, giving the map to Debbie. “Clear enough?”
“Yeah…I guess it’ll get me there,” Debbie reluctantly agreed.
“Good. You take the map. I keep the dog,” Lisa said, still glaring at the woman.
“But…” Debbie started.
“Phoebe will be my responsibility,” Lisa said simply. “And I won’t even tell Bill what you had planned to do with her.”
Debbie actually seemed embarrassed, and Lisa had a sudden impulse to say something to shame her further. But more than that, Lisa wanted the woman gone.
“Wait a minute,” Lisa ordered.
She left the room again and quickly returned, this time with a bottle of drinking water.
“For the ride home,” Lisa explained. “Some of the roads on the map aren’t paved. Lots of dust.”
Debbie grabbed the water.
“Crazy woman,” she muttered, going out the door. “You and that wacko dog belong together!”
The woman slammed the door after her, and Lisa collapsed on the floor with a sigh.
Phoebe, tattered purple shorts dangling from her mouth, crawled into Lisa’s lap and began shredding with renewed enthusiasm.
There was something she had to do, and it had to be done tonight.
Next up: Part 7
Feature image by Tumisu from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
Road construction video by Anamul Rezwan from Pexels
Woman image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
Parrot video by Roy Buri from Pixabay
Map illustration Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay (typography added by kathleenjae.com)
GPS image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
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