Frances browsing a thrift store, operated by the animal shelter, noticed a wire cage on the floor. She leaned down to have a closer look, “Well, well, what do we have here?” She glanced at the salesclerk. “Is this puppy for sale?”
“Yes, he is. Would you like to hold him?”
The salesgirl came from behind the counter and handed the nine-week-old puppy to Frances.
“Oh, he’s so cute.” Frances didn’t realize how much she missed having a dog. It’d been year since Benny, her toy poodle, died.
“Would you like to come home with me?” Frances petted the puppy.
A soft whimper.
“How much?” Frances asked.
“One hundred. Just to cover the cost of neutering and his first shots.”
“How big do you think he’ll get?”
The clerk pointed to a cat sleeping next to the cash register. “No bigger than that.”
“I’ll take him and name him Ralph.”
Three years later…
Frances gazed through the kitchen window. “Looks like another hot day.”
Outside, Ralph sniffed the ground, ran in circles, stopped under an ash tree, and lifted his rear leg.
“Good boy.” Frances laughed and let him back into the house.
The doorbell rang.
Peering through her screen door, her neighbor, Lisa, a constant complainer.
Ralph’s terrier instincts kicked in. He dropped his treat, ran to the door, and barked.
“Ralph! Quiet! It’s only Lisa.”
He barked louder.
Frances picked him up. Ralph growled at Lisa.
“Hi, Lisa. What’s up?”
“Your lawn is dead.”
“I know. It’s just—”
“Just nothing. A real estate friend asked me if your house was section eight.”
“Section eight? That’s low-cost housing.” Frances said laughing it off. “Anyway, we’re in a drought.”
“Pooh, pooh,” Lisa waved a hand in the air.
“Yeah! Well, mind your own business.”
“You’ll be sorry.”
“Go away. Plant some flowers under your maple tree.” Frances sarcastically said, “Pretty. Very pretty.”
Lisa left in a huff.
The barking stopped.
The next morning…
Frances stepped outside to pick up the Sunday newspaper.
Someone had dumped a fried fish, head and all, onto her porch. Grease spattered the concrete and stucco wall under the picture window.
“Lisa.” Frances grumbled. “I’ll show her. She’s gone too far.”
“Ralph!” Frances called.
She held out her arms. Ralph leaped. Frances looked him in the eye. “I’ve got a job for you.”
Frances put Ralph on Lisa’s luscious green lawn. “Shit!”