“Charlie,” Nan began, after taking a deep breath. She would take the high road. There must be a logical explanation for this. “So could please explain to me again why this dog is here?” She know she probably sounded a bit pushy. But this situation was all rather upsetting, now wasn’t it?
“I told you,” Charlie insisted. “She just ran up to me… well, then she ran into the house, from across the street in the park… maybe she’s lost… and then I went to chase her after her, and she sort of followed me home. And here she is!”
Nan considered. “I see that, Charlie. Not that it is any of my business if you want to befriend the neighborhood dog, but to bring the dog in like this, well…” And she let that hang there. After all, she was sure he remembered her no pet clause.
For as long as she had rented out the house, she had never allowed pets. Even her husband had been surprised, but she insisted on this from the very first day they put the house up for rent.
Her husband had questioned her on this. “But lots of folks like them. Can’t they have a cat… or a dog? What’s wrong with that?” He had asked, making her feel immediately like the bad guy.
“George, you know how I feel about pets. We have never had one in this house, and I’m not going to start allowing one just because we have moved out. I want to keep the place clean and neat, and pets do damage to houses. It’s a proven fact!”
“But Nora”–this was his nickname for her, which he had used affectionately for many years– “Most people have pets. And we don’t live here anymore. What’s wrong with being open to it? There might be some lovely couple with–“
“No! I don’t want to discuss it!” Nan had insisted. She knew she was on the verge of throwing a tantrum. She knew that she probably sounded quite inflexible and unpleasant. But she couldn’t help it.
Something about the issue had stirred up a lot of emotion for her. Then as it did now.
But rather than bringing it up to her tenant, she hoped the silence in the air would remind him.
No pets allowed.
Apparently it did not. “What can I say? She just followed me home!” Charlie concluded, with a shrug and a smile on his face that was as big and dopey as the dog’s. “Isn’t she wonderful, Nan? She’s so friendly!”
Nan said nothing. “Well, Charlie, I don’t think that it’s a great idea to have a dog here.” Because I don’t want to have to evict you, she thought to herself, not without a little bit of guilt.
And anger. Because she was unexpectedly upset.
Nan did not like evicting tenants. She had only had to do it one time before. But this situation was quickly raising alarm bells for her. For some reason, Charlie was coming to the dog’s defense, a dog that had followed him home and barged into the house not once, but twice! Though Nan knew that the dog wasn’t Charlie’s, there was a manner about how man and dog interacted which said otherwise.
“Well,” Charlie went on. “You know, I just found her. I don’t even know if someone is looking for her. Can’t I just keep her in the backyard today while I make some calls, see if someone is looking for her? Maybe the pet society or, you know, an animal shelter. Maybe someone put out flyers!”
He has forgotten the terms, Nan thought to herself. This was not good.
Suddenly, her cell phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. She looked down and saw it was from Laura.
“Hello, Honey,” she said, trying to keep her voice level, but eager to get off the phone.
“Hey Mom,” said Laura. “You need to come quick.”
Nan, thrown off for the second time in as many moments, replied, “What is it?”
“There’s been an accident.” Laura’s voice was darkly foreboding. “Tom fell off the boat. We think he’s injured.”
Suddenly, Nan’s mood changed from anger-laced upset to worry-laced upset. “Oh no!” she nearly shrieked. “Is he alright?”
“We think so. We are taking him to the emergency room at Baldwin. You need to come. Quick.”
“Okay, Dear,” Nan said distantly. She could not quite believe how quickly her perfectly planned out morning of gardening had unraveled.
Suddenly feeling quite aloof to the circumstances with the dog and Charlie, she hung up the phone and said to him, “Uh, Charlie, I need to go. I will call you later.”
“Okay, Nan,” Charlie replied eagerly. “I hope all is well!”
“And keep the dog in the backyard… mind the bougainvillea’s!” was about all she could get out before disappearing back into the house to go to her car.