Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chapter One

She does not like to be woken up early.

She has screamed at the fat one time and time again, but the thin one should know better - he’s only made that mistake once, and after receiving stitches to his head because of a thrown ashtray, he’s always been sure to let her sleep in.

But if that’s the case, then why is that idiot knocking on her door at this ridiculous hour, before the sun’s even up?

“Miss?” His voice is hesitant, his knock just soft enough to annoyingly, relentlessly pull her from the clutches of sleep.

She opens one crusty, makeup-hardened eyelid and scans the darkened room for something to throw at him. Her hand reaches out, claw-like, for the mostly empty bottle of sherry on her nightstand.

“Miss, I…” He flinches back as the bottle thunks into the doorway.

Usually, this would be enough of a hint for the gangly thug, but he doesn’t even close the door. If anything, it sounds like he’s stepping foot over the threshold – a forbidden rule!

“Just what,” she says in a surprisingly calm voice, “do you think you are doing?”

“I’m beggin’ your pardon, Miss, but it’s them puppies. I think you should come see. I mean, well, there’s something wrong.”

“The puppies?” She wakes up. They’re her latest investment, dozens and dozens of Dalmatians. Now that their spots are coming in, they’ll soon be ready to be harvested. “What about them?”

“Well, d’you remember the one that was sick, the one who kept fightin’ wiv the others?”

An angry sigh hisses from within the plush, mink-covered bed. “I told you to drown the little beast. I told you that last night.”

The puppy had been bitten, badly, in the tail, foot, and ear. Dogfight, most likely. Most natural, she assumed, for the strongest of the litter to pick on the runt.

A pelt like that would be no good, and she, being a savvy businesswoman, had decided to cut the loss early.

“I know, Miss…”

“Then what is the problem?”

“Well, we did drown ’im!” He shifts from foot to foot. “We drowned ’im good. But he, he didn’t die, Miss. So we brought ’im here, we thought maybe you could…”

“You brought it here?” she snarls. She slithers from her bed and into her coat and slippers. “What were you thinking? What if you were followed? You imbecile, I told you to keep them away from here!”

She continues cursing all the way downstairs to the kitchen, where the fat one is bandaging his hand. His stink of cheap cheese and lunchmeat mingles with the detestable odor of wet fur. She lights a cigarette to clear the air.

The drowned puppy, still in the sink but too small to climb out, bares its tiny teeth and growls.

She stares down at it. The other animals have learned to fear her cruel eyes, but this one doesn’t whimper or avert its gaze. It only looks back, blankly, as it scrabbles at the walls of the sink.

“Throw him in the oven,” she finally says.

“But mum,” says the fat one. “The li’l bugger bit me!”

“Bite him back,” she says absently, and returns to bed.