The Neighbors, Part 3
There are those among us who live stormy lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. You will never see them. They pretend normalcy; friends and neighbors and co-workers. Inside they are monsters.
Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.
It was storming the day the dog disappeared. Pumpkin. Janice’s little mutt.
She showed up at my door, with James, to ask if I had seem the little thing. Such a sad little tear-stained face. Boredom for James.
I knelt down, smiled my smiliness. “No, I haven’t. Maybe Pumpkin ran away.”
“Pumpkin would never run away,” she replied, eyes red-rimmed and serious. “He loves me.”
“Perhaps he got lost in the storm.”
I looked up at James. “Have you called the Shelters?”
They didn’t deserve her really. Boredom. The curse of modern life.
“Come in,” I continued. “We’ll call to see if anybody found Pumpkin.”
This was the first time she’d crossed my threshold. I shuddered at the thought, but one must make sacrifices.
Phoning produced nothing. Nobody had seen, or found, Pumpkin.
We printed up flyers to post after the storm. Walked the neighborhood the next day, stapling up posters, looking for the mutt, calling its name.
We all lose those important to us. Except the monsters.
The next afternoon, I knocked on their door, offering in my hand. James answered. Funny, but I hadn’t seen Jane since that first day. Move-In day.
He tilted his head like a cocker spaniel.
“How is poor Janice?”
“She’ll be fine,” he replied. “It’s just a mutt.”
My sentiments exactly, but it wasn’t my place to say.
I offered him the dish. “Pumpkin Pie?”