Carmen

“…and the syphilis was just icing on the cake!”
  
Carmen licked the inside of Beryl’s ankle. Beryl had heard this story before, the last time she’d been in Miami. She’d also heard the story back in New York, from the other side.
  
There it had been: “Can you believe it? All these years of her saying she’s a giver, and I’m a taker, and what’s she give me? Syphilis!”
  
Beryl tried to stay neutral. She gave Carmen a pat on the head and a scratch under the collar, right where she liked it. She’d almost forgotten to change collars this time, but she’d caught herself in the cab. Carmen wore black in New York and desert plum in Florida.
  
These were the details a Canine Liaison has to keep straight. Carmen’s nails clicked on the Spanish tile of the entryway and Beryl scooped her up.
  
“Well, someone really missed you,” Beryl said, holding the Pomeranians out to Annalise Nelson, recent divorcee, current syphilis sufferer and the dog’s every-other-two-weeks-and-on-alternating-holidays-owner.
  
Annalise buried the dog’s face in her neck as if to mark it with her scent and padded off into the kitchen, whispering conspiratorially.
  
“I bet he fed you gluten, didn’t he, mon petit chou?” Beryl heard her mutter before the swinging doors of the kitchen swallowed them. She was left alone in the front hall, but she knew her way to the pool house, where she would spend the next two weeks before Carmen was due back in White Plains.
  
Beryl had been Carmen’s Canine Liaison for four months, shuttling the dog between its warring owners, who shared nothing now except the Pomeranian and an urgent need for antibiotics.
  
She wasn’t sure either Annalise or her ex-husband really loved Carmen, but neither was willing to let their furry pawn go.
  
Sprawled on the guesthouse futon, the air heavy with chlorine from the infinity pool, Beryl fantasized about letting Carmen out of her carrier when no one was looking and tell her to run.
  
A veterinarian she’d consulted had explained to her what a terrible idea that would be.
  
“Pomeranians weren’t bred for freedom,” he’d said. “Pomeranians will never be free.”

 

 

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Front page image by Anita Carril.

 

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