Letting Life Lead
The Golden Retriever greeted Inez with a few licks and she itched a tender spot at his neck as she let him take a treat from her fingers. Finding the animal’s home hadn’t been difficult. Their daily, well-traveled route meandered pleasantly from the central park through a more affluent neighborhood and back. Since their meeting of chance, she visited this property in the early hours after Paula, his owner, released him to the small yard before leaving for work and again in the late evening on warm nights to sleep in the doghouse. A small home in a middle income, quiet neighborhood with an overgrown corner and high fence. She watched the fluffy, golden tail disappear through the automatic doggy door and heard the electronics reset just before it opened again and he returned excitedly breathing hard through something in his mouth. The dog sat obediently in front of her then dropped something round, formerly green, and ratty. It rolled — fresh slobber picking up new dirt — and came to a rest against her shoe.
“You are a terrible guard dog, Winston,” she admonished, before throwing the tennis ball in a hard bounce.
She emerged from behind the corner where Winston had hard packed the ground from rolling and enjoying the shade from three trees growing as one and overrun forsythia and spirea bushes. The fence there formed a very narrow alley with the neighboring yards just barely chest wide. Had her bosom been more ample she would not have been able to side shimmy between to reach the the fence boards and loosen them. Paula left when the morning was still new, dew still on the grass, and most of the neighborhood still asleep. Inez picked up a soda bottle from the green recycle bin and used her Swiss army knife to cut a long strip of plastic from it and reburied it under the other items. Winston returned with the ball and she tossed it again. Inez ignored the rear and front doors which had sturdier locks and instead turned her attention to the below ground cellar door covered only by a rotting green bulkhead. The right doors would always open. Winston whined when she disappeared, but she heard him pacing then enter the house.
Using the long piece of plastic shoved between the door frame, she quickly disengaged the old knob door lock and the bar lock inside. Light gloves protected her hands. Inez stepped inside the surprisingly empty cellar and found the stairs where Winston was shoving his nose under the door and scratching the floor. She passed a treat under the narrow space before she opened it and shook her head. No effort nor challenge.
“And where is the ball?” she asked, shooing him off. “You aren’t much of a retriever either, hmm?” Winston answered with a snuff and turned his attention to making a puddle of his water bowl.
She touched nothing and had no interest in anything other than the layout of the home. The door had lead her to the kitchen and looking towards the living room. Upstairs she peered at two bedrooms and a bathroom. The spare room, designated for storage, looked as if it hadn’t been entered in some time. The master bedroom, modest in size, had it’s own bathroom and just one small window. It was drowned in shadows even in the day. Inez sat in the middle of the floor and sighed and the dog rested his warm body in her lap and stared at her expectantly. Inez drank in the scents and anticipation. Paula was healthy; the aroma of her blood tempted.
“Don’t rush me. I’m thinking,” she whispered into a fuzzy ear. “I might stick around here — in the city — for a while longer. ” Winston looked at her and snuffed through his nose. “True. I can take what I want when I want; it’s easy enough. But, if I’m going to stay I shouldn’t just ‘eat and run’,” She laughed at herself, then rubbed her neck with a heavy sigh. “I’ve been feeling kind of tired of the skulking lately. People are exhausting, right? But I wouldn’t have to squeeze through that damn fence anymore. What do you say? Will you help me make a friend? I promise, I wasn’t going to hurt her. Either way, she’ll be fine and I won’t tell anyone what a shitty watchdog you are.” Winston shuff-barked and thumped his tail on the carpet.
playing by my own rules
We take the heat 'cause we gotta eat.
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