Nan was back home, sitting at home with phone in hand about to call Charlie. She always aimed to contact him only sparingly. She wondered if perhaps there was something inappropriate about her calling him up under these circumstances, as she felt that she was mostly trying to check up on him, something she generally considered a no-no in the world of landlording–about the dog.
She knew that she should give Charlie time to work things out. Hopefully, the dog had already been found by its owner. If not, maybe Charlie had already brought it to the pound. She knew that matters were very simple: if Charlie wanted to keep renting her house, the dog had to go.
She hoped that Charlie had realized this too.
Nan felt a twinge of guilt at this. She had never had to test her anti-pet resolve before. All the other tenants had cooperated. Her husband hadn’t pressed her on it after that uncomfortable conversation when they first decided to rent the place. Nan did not like being in this position, and she resented Charlie a bit for it. Didn’t he realize how tough this made things for her? She didn’t want to kick him out. He was a good tenant… well, had been, before the dog.
She hoped that Charlie did the right thing.
Nan caught her mind spinning as she sat at the kitchen table. Tim was in the living room, holding a crayon proudly with his cast-covered hand as he drew at the table. He had been sitting there in fixed concentration for twenty minutes.
Nan pushed the “Call” button on her cell phone, and it dialed Charlie. He picked up.
“Hello, this is Charlie!” said an enthusiastic voice.
“Hi Charlie, it’s Nan. Remember, I said I would call you back. Is this a good time?”
“Oh hi, Nan! Sure it is. We’re just here, um, we’re just here in the backyard.. um, in the backyard, playing with Rose… er, with the dog!”
Rose? The dog had a name already? Nan felt her emotions drop into the pit of her stomach as she realized things were getting as bad as she had feared. Damn! She knew that dog was trouble!
“You gave her a name already?” she questioned. “That was quick.”
“Well, you know,” Charlie began, “It just seemed… to be a good name for her. She’s beautiful… like your flowers, Nan!”
Nan had no idea why Charlie would compare a dog to her flowers. “I see,” was all she could muster. This was not going to be easy.
“Yeah, she’s such a beautiful dog. We bought her some dog food, and some other supplies, you know, that dogs need: a leash, doggy bags, a bowl. Stevie has been real helpful.”
So Stevie is in on this too! Nan’s resentment suddenly spread out across the neighborhood of the Park House. She imagined the kids–and the adults too–conspiring to work together to give innocent Charlie a dog and make Nan become the evil bad guy landlord.
Quiet! Nan shouted at herself in her mind. She needed to get a grip. This was a rational situation. She needed to keep her calm and not let her mind take her down a negative wild-good chase.
“I see, so Stevie is… helping you. And no one has come looking for the dog yet?” Nan thought she sounded calm enough.
“Oh no, definitely not.” Charlie seemed to pause. “I don’t know… I think, I think I’m really starting to like her. I mean, I know I just found her, I mean met her… but something tells me that she… that Rose is my dog. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s pretty incredible.”
And pretty stupid, Charlie. You should know better! Righteous indignation ignited within Nan. She had about had it. She was about to lay into Charlie, and remind him what was what. He had made an agreement. She didn’t mind if he had a dog, but if he wanted to live there, then—
But before she could start speaking, she turned her head and saw Tim standing right next to her at the table, eyeing her intently. “You scared me, Tim! I’ll be off soon, ok? Keep doing your coloring.”
“What dog are you talking about, Ma Ma?”
Nan shrugged. “No one, Timmy. Don’t worry about it. I’ll be off soon. You keep coloring.”
“Who ith it, Ma Ma? Who got a dog? I love dogth!”
You do not love dogs! Nan screamed in her mind. She could not believe it. In all her years raising Tim, he had never once talked about dogs. She was getting annoyed.
“Timmy, it is no one, will you please go back to your coloring? I will be off soon. Sorry, Charlie. My son keeps asking me questions.”
“Tell Tim I say hi, will ya?” Charlie said animatedly. He had met Tim several times, and had gotten along really well. This was something Nan had liked about Charlie when she first rented the house to him.
That was then. “Okay, I will, Charlie. But… you know, I’m sorry, I gotta tell you, about this dog…”
“Charlie hath a dog? Charlie hath a dog? When will I meet it? I want to meet it!” Tim’s rapture was evident, and he clapped his hands as he regarded his mother with anticipation.
Nan lost her patience. “Tim, you are not going to meet Charlie’s dog. Now I have had enough of this. You will go right now into the other living room. Right… Now!”
Tim knew what this tone meant, and did not argue or resist. The excited smile did not leave his face as he left the room. “Okay, I go color, Ma Ma. But pleath tell Charlie I want to meet hith dog. What ith her name?”
Nan could not believe how badly everything was going. But she relented just a little. “Her name is Rose. Now let talk to Charlie. Back to the living room!”
Nan’s adrenaline had kicked her. She was sure she was going to get a headache. This usually happened if she got really upset.
Tim shouted from across the house as he resumed his position at the living room table. “Okay, Ma Ma. Bye Charlie, I can’t wait to meet Rothe!”
Ugh. Nan’s headache hard started to creep in, just as she expected. And another voice she did not like hearing came along with it:
Get a grip, Nan. It’s going to be alright. Why does this bother you so much?