Giving an old dog a new bone for Sadje’s photo prompt challenge. Woof!
“You mangy son on a bitch, get your ass off my lawn! Go on … get the hell outta here!”
That was Old Man Jenkins. He and his wife Harriet live next door to us and the source of his rage was none other than our pet French bulldog, Jacques. My husband Ted would run out of the house, apologizing profusely.
“Sorry, Mr. Jenkins! Jacques a handful but he’s just playing. He’s really lovable once you get to know him. Just look at that grin.”
“Get to know him!? Are you freaking nuts, Peterson? That bastard just crapped on my fruit trees!”
“Think of it as fertilizer, Mr. Jenkins” Ted suggested sheepishly and dragged Jacques away.
“FERTILIZER!?! I think you mean just plain shit!
“Hush now, Aaron!” chastised Harriet. “Using such language … why, there’s children next door!”
“Don’t hush me, Margaret! That damn dog’s a menace! If you can’t control your frigging mutt, Peterson, I’m gonna call the cops. Or maybe I’ll just put a bullet between his beady little eyes.”
And the kids started crying.
“Now, Mr. Jenkins, please don’t say things like that. You’re scaring my kids.”
“Well, that’s just too damn bad! You solve this problem or I will … permanently!”
Ted brought Jacques back inside, promising the kids everything was going to be ok, that Old Man Jenkins was just sputtering angry syllables he didn’t really mean.
The next few days we kept Jacques on a short leash. Old Man Jenkins seemed to calm down and busied himself with his fruit trees.
On Saturday morning Harriet Jenkins approached me in the grocery store. “Thank you, Alice, for keeping Jacques out of our yard. Now Aaron can care for his beloved fruit trees in peace. In fact, he’s been so preoccupied he hasn’t noticed the family of critters living in our wood pile. They’re just so darling, I even named them – Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar!”
And off she went, chuckling suspiciously.
Sitting down to dinner later that day, we suddenly heard Old Man Jenkins yelling at the top of his lungs. We never heard him scream like that before so we knew it had to be something awful. Please … not Jacques! We raced outside, stopping dead in our tracks: there stood Old Man Jenkins, pricked by at least 100 porcupine quills.
So that was the “family of darling critters” Harriet was referring to!
“Excellent aim, my little darlings!” exclaimed Harriet. “Guess they know a prick when they see one, Aaron!”
NAR © 2023
Originally published 2018