Dallas, TX –
Ah, those teenage school days of summer yore when our parents encouraged us to, "Get a job". And I did, scoring big time! House sitting for a wealthy neighbor named Susan. What a gig! Lounging around the palatial pool. Raiding that lavishly stocked fridge. Raking in the big bucks tending "Fluffy", the pre-teen daughter Michelle's new pup.
Advance press had it that Fluffy was a "black and white bundle of fun-lovin' fur". But "beware" they warned: "Once Fluffy gets out, he's impossible to catch." Oooo, how true! Moving in, before I even saw Fluffy, a black and white bolt of lightening streaked out the back door.
Frantically pacing the street, I called, "Fluffy, Fluffy." No one had seen Fluffy. Except one kid pointing, "Fluffy dare." Sure enough, hiding in some mangy shrubs was the missing mongrel. Crouching and whispering "Fluffy" like a lothario to a reclining goddess, I was finally able to grab him. Never mind that heinous hound began biting me. I was not letting this meal ticket loose!
Fluffy hated me. The Chucky-like demon beast began demolishing daughter Michelle's upstairs bedroom where Fluffy's World had been erected. The dust ruffle, shredded. Pillows, ravaged. Dolls eaten. And don't even ask about Michelle's Capezio ballet shoes! I frantically called Susan who assured me that Fluffy was just suffering "separation anxiety".
Ultimately, Susan cut her vacation short. And despite my warning that the upstairs was a bomb blast crime scene, little Michelle ran up the stairs calling, "Fluffy. Fluffy." Reuniting in the Mt. St. Helens debris field, the sounds above us were an unearthly duet; Michelle's blood-curdling cries over the depraved barking.
Susan raced up the stairs to console the blubbering Michelle and she too combusted into torrential hysteria, like Scarlet O' Hara returning to scorched earth Tara. "Everthang's gone!" Where's Fluffy!!??"
Seizing the snarling savage, I snapped, "Here."
"Are you insane?" Susan snarled. "What's that dog doin' in this house?"
"This isn't Fluffy?" I wailed incredulously as Michelle whimpered, "Mommy, did Rawlins kill Fluffy?"
As I opened the front door and the faux Fluffy fled, three kids on the street chanted, "There's Tony. Tony! Why did you take Tony?" A question their parents and, later, the police asked me at curbside. While I watched a calm spotted animal walk through the front door prompting a euphoric Michelle to bellow "Fluffy's home!" About the time the industrial cleanup crew began carting out the war-torn remnants of a suddenly legless Victorian vanity. And that once lovely floral chintz carcass, the disemboweled loveseat.
Rawlins Gilliland is a writer from Dallas.
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