Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where Did You Roam?

About two weeks ago, I was given the task of looking after Pepper, a terrier of unknown lineage. Pepper's true owner was going to Florida for an indefinite period to spend time with her father, who was dying of cancer. I didn't think to ask her which kind or where the cancer was. People seem fascinated with details like that for some reason. For instance, when I was forced to explain to the superintendant (also, incidentally, of unknown lineage) the reasons for the barking emanating from my apartment, his first follow-up question concerned the nature of the cancer.

"Lung? Brain?"
"I don't know, I didn't ask."
"Prostate, probably," he concluded.

Rather than giving me the keys to her apartment, Pepper's owner seems to have decided that it would be more prudent to bring me the dog and have him stay with me rather than the other way around. I can't say I blame her. She offered some altruistic pretexts -- "Oh, I think it will be nice for you to have some company around your apartment, right?" "Having him around will make your place more 'homey.'" "This way, you don't have to come all the way out here to look in on him." And on the magnanimous charade went.

"Charade" because I halfway suspect that the real reason was something more along the lines of, "I can't be certain that you won't loot my house, pawn everything, and then blame it all on a band of opportunistic burglars." She knows vaguely that I've had a bit of a problem with money and self-control. But that she would entrust me with her dog, but not, say, her DVD player, is utterly beyond my powers of comprehension. But I couldn't really argue with any of her reasons and so I didn't bother trying.

On Tuesday afternoon, I got home from another satisfying job interview ("Seriously, why would you want to work here? You're a college graduate") and Pepper did not greet me at the door as was his custom. I couldn't find him anywhere in the apartment. But I did notice that the kitchen sink, which had been dripping incessantly, had stopped dripping. And one of my dish towels had some grease on it, in the vague outline of a wrench. I put the pieces together: the super had come by to fix the sink, he was careless about the dog getting out, and now the dog was gone.

I immediately took to the streets and began my canvass of the neighborhood. Finally, a reason to leave the house.


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