I had just fixed myself a drink and was smoking a cigarette. Looking out the kitchen window into the backyard, I saw Annie”s two girls making ready. This was all new to me. I thought that maybe I should make ready, too. But I didn”t know how. The girls had little party-dresses on with ribbons in their hair. Cute.

It was a sticky-hot July day and I was already sweating on my neck and other parts. I stayed over at Annie”s last night. It was the first time we”d done such a thing. You see, we”re seeing each other. Annie says that me staying over wasn”t good for the girls to know, their dad having died just a few months ago. So I had to park down the road and stay in the bedroom until we could make like I”d just shown up for the service. I bet I got a parking ticket. These cops in the suburbs have nothing better to do than write parking tickets.

Last night we went to the theatre in Detroit. Then we had us some drinks. I drove us back to her house here in Troy and she beckoned me to come on in, making all seductive-like. She was tipsy. But we never made love. Rather, we fell asleep. I bet I was more attractive on the porch than I was in the house. I figured that we were sleeping in the same bed that her husband used to make love to her in. I admit that”s creepy, him having been unfaithful and moving out and dying.

Those poor little girls. On top of their dad dying their dog died, too. It was an old dog, from what Annie tells me. I admit that I don”t know the first thing about dogs. I”ve never had one. So I don”t sometimes get why people get all jazzed up about their dogs. I don”t get jazzed up about much these days. But Annie”s girls really loved this dog. They used to kiss this dog and let it lick up all over their faces and such. Disgusting.

“Is this normal?” I said to Annie.

“Is what normal, Ray?” she said. She turned from the counter where she was making lemonade.

“This whole dog-burying thing. I mean does everyone bury their dead dogs in their backyard? I must tell you that I haven”t a clue as to what”s protocol here, Annie. But it just seems funny, those girls having to grow up with a dead dog in their backyard and all

“Stop. Please.”

I fixed another drink. A big Gin and Tonic. It was going down nicely. I looked at the girls. They looked very solemn on their faces and were kneeling, holding hands. “Are they praying?”

“Ray,” Annie said, palming a lemon and looking irritated.

I looked out again. The grass was very green except for the rectangular ditch in the back that had been dug by a neighbor. The landscaping and such looked ratty, but I didn”t mention that to Annie.

“Let”s go,” she said, and she started for the sliding door to the deck. I followed. She turned and glared at me. I thought for a second before leaving my drink on the counter.

I tried to make serious while we walked to where the girls were. The sun was hot and I was squinting and my head hurt. My neck was wet and felt disgusting.

I looked into the ditch and saw the dead dog. I almost couldn”t get over it. The big black dead dog was in the ditch. This was too much! They were really going to do it. It wasn”t some way for Annie to trick the girls into feeling better. I couldn”t believe it.

Annie was looking down at her feet. So I did that, too. The older girl began with the Lord”s Prayer. Annie joined in. I joined in, too, surprising myself that I remembered the words because I have to admit that I mustn”t have recited it since I was little. I”m not the praying type. But I knew it, just as well.

Before the prayers are done, the girls start to cry, and Annie starts to cry, too. Annie runs around the ditch to embrace the girls. The dead dog is still there. I put my hands in my pockets and wait for a signal. Nothing.

Out of nowhere, the younger girl breaks away from Annie and grabs my leg. Her head only reaches my waist. She cries and cries and makes my trousers all wet. I reach down and pat her little back.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *