Things That Happen When I'm Minding My Own Business...Part Two
“Well thank you so much for your kindness but I must be going.”
I offered to make him another drink but, to be honest, I was ready for him to leave. Especially back in those days, I was a virtual hermit and guests, invited or uninvited weren’t one of my favorite things. I liked the little old guy but…well you know.
We exchanged pleasantries as he walked to the car with Barney escorting him step for step. As he opened his door to get in, the strangest thing happened.
Barney jumped in the man’s car, went to the passenger seat and sat down!
Mr. Thornton hadn’t done a single thing to encourage the dog other than pet him a few times and Barney HAD sat at his feet while we were on my front deck but…nothing else.
We both laughed in amazement at the sight of big ole Barney sitting ramrod straight in the passenger seat staring straight ahead as if saying…
I went to the passenger side door and opened it.
“Barney, get the hell out the man’s car.” I chuckled and gave Mr. Thornton an embarrassed look.
To my shock and irritation, the dog wouldn’t move. Didn’t even acknowledge that he’d heard me.
He did not so much as glance my way.
I repeated my ‘command’.
I started to get a little perturbed at this point so I reached in, grabbed him by his collar and literally had to haul him out of the man’s car.
I think I’ve mention Barney in a couple, hell, maybe a few posts but, for those who don’t know or remember…Barney was truly more of a friend than a dog at that point in my life. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the ‘tortured artist/jaded human being/rugged loner’ stage of my life when I got Barney as an eight week old puppy. I never tried to ‘train’ him much; we just kind of hung out together and became incredibly close and co-dependent.
Non verbal communication was the norm for us and he wasn’t so much obedient as he was eager to please.
We loved each other.
Four years after he was stolen from us, I still think about him almost everyday.
My point is this…..while Barney was incredibly friendly and lovable and EVERYBODY loved Barney….he was strictly a ‘one man dog’!
Don’t get me wrong….he loved to roam but he always came home.
This next part of the tale is gonna sound like b.s. but…..when I look back on his behavior that day and a couple of other times…I believe my analysis of the situation is correct.
He had a remarkable ‘gift’ which I’ll explain in a bit.
I’ll have to tell ya’ll some other Barney stories in the future.
Almost every day, the big old goofy bastard would go through the automatic doors at Lowe’s grocery store (a mile from my house) and act like a friggin’ Wal-Mart greeter!
He never stayed outside the store nor did he wander around inside the store, he would simply sit by the door and shake hands with anyone who wasn’t terrified of a 135 lb dog that looked a bit like Astro on the Jetsons.
Most everyone loved it and the local paper even ran a story about him but, due to the article, the county health inspectors decided to ban Barney from his ‘duties’.
People actually cried and wrote angry letters to the editor about how a horrible injustice was being done to Barney!
He was a hoot.
BACK TO THE TALE
After I pulled Barney from the car and shut the door, I let go of his collar and he immediately went around to the driver’s side where Mr. Thornton had just sat down and closed the door. Barney hopped up, put his paws on the window frame, stuck his head in the window and ‘talked’ to the man.
I think that most intelligent dogs are truly PISSED that they can’t speak and Barney was no exception. He would growl, sigh, whine and moan as though he were trying to talk to you and was damned upset that you couldn’t understand him!
The little man looked at me as I came around to his side of the car to get Barney again.
“He IS a friendly chap isn’t he?” He smiled. “I think he rather fancies me.”
“Don’t be too flattered Mr. Thornton…Barney loves almost everybody.”
With that, I grabbed Barney’s collar again and damned if he didn’t pull away from me and GROWL!
I was absolutely stunned and I don’t mind telling you….a little bit scared.
We’ve all heard stories about dogs suddenly ‘snapping’ or ‘going postal’ out of the clear blue.
Hell, if a friggin’ Yorky or a Pomeranian goes bat shit crazy well…it’s no big deal but Barney was one big S.O.B. who loved to chew on lumber for the hell of it!!
He could devour beef rib bones like dog biscuits!
Instinctively, I let go of his collar and he immediately jumped back into the car window.
I looked at Mr. Thornton, he looked at me and we both wore uneasy expressions I’m sure.
After a few seconds, he opened the car door, got out and stood before Barney. He reached down and petted him while looking at me.
“Well….you said that dogs love you Mr. Thornton.” I said apologetically. “I don’t suppose you want a dog?”
“Actually, I would love a dog but I’m afraid I don’t care to own a bloody horse!”
As we stood there trying to figure out what to do about this strange situation, a car came across the little bridge and pulled in behind Mr. Thornton’s.
“I wished I was dead.” I muttered.
Mr. Thornton looked at me.
“I beg your pardon.”
“Here comes trouble.” I said.
It was Susan’s asshole husband…..Bill.
As I mentioned earlier, Bill was a retired NYPD beat cop. He was in his early seventies and one of the surliest men I’ve ever known. I pretty sure the man was weaned on sour milk and vinegar. He was one of those people who could say ‘I love you’ but it came out as ‘kiss my ass’ if you know what I mean.
He sprung out of his Crown Victoria with the nimbleness of a man half his age. Like him or not, you had to give the man his ‘props’. He was in incredible shape for a man his age and loved to regale anyone who would listen as to how physically superior he was to anyone he knew. He began this proclamation with a handshake that would make a Marine drill sergeant weep and a steely eyed glare.
I’m not making this up folks….
When I first met him, I was inspecting the rental house in anticipation of signing the lease. Susan and I were just about to enter the tiny guest house when all of the sudden, a candy apple red Mercedes 450 SL whips into the driveway and a man dressed like a cricket player vaults out of the convertible like something out of a Magnum P.I. episode!
Unfortunately, the wannabe Magnum’s tennis shoe must have failed to clear the top of the door and, as a result, the man pitched quite literally ‘ass over tea kettle’ onto the leaf covered ground.
It was such a hideous landing, face first into the ground and at an impossible angle with no hands breaking the momentum that I was pretty well certain that I was witnessing a ‘Christopher Reeve’ moment!
Damn!! He had to have broken his neck!!!
I heard Susan chuckle and I looked at her in disgust.
“You think THAT’S funny?” I asked.
I watched as the man miraculously rose to his feet albeit a little cautiously.
“Hell yeah it’s funny.” She snorted. “That dick with ears is my husband.”
She opened the door to the guest house and motioned me inside.
“Are you gonna check on him?” I asked.
“Hell no honey….he does enough ‘checking’ for the both of us…..the jealous prick.”
No sooner had we entered the little house than Bill came bursting into the room.
“So dis guy heah is the new tenant huh Susan?” He asked.
She ignored him so I pitched in.
“Well, I’m just sort of looking for now.”
“What’s he looking at Susie?” He growled. “He lookin’ at the fuggin’ house or the gadamn ‘amenities’?”
Geez….what an asshole.
Susan whirled around and faced him.
“Bill, get the fuck out of her right now!” She shouted. “You wanna handle this job….handle the fucking job but don’t tell me to handle the job and then give me a fuckin’ hard time when I do handle the fuckin’ job!”
I was amazed.
Even though I had been in the Navy, I don’t believe I had ever heard such a short statement utilizing the ‘F’ word so many times!
The ‘lady’ was an artist.
Bill glared at me.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
I’ve never liked assholes even though I’ve been one myself many times in my life so naturally……I had to speak up.
“I’m the guy who ain’t gonna rent this place from you.” I said as I headed for the door.
Suddenly, Susan rushed over and grabbed my arm.
“I’ll cut the rent by a hundred a month and I’ll do all the yard work.”
“For crissake Susie, why don’t you just let the fuggin’ guy stay here for free?” he groaned like Archie Bunker.
“Shut the hell up Bill!” she screamed. “Get out of here or I swear I’ll shoot you with your own damned gun when I get home.”
Oddly enough, Bill turned and left but not before delivering a parting shot.
“You just remember that I know where my guns are too!”
There were a few uncomfortable moments after Bill departed and then she turned to me as if nothing had happened.
“So…..you wanna see the darling little room upstairs?”
What the hell could I say?
As you know….I ended up signing the lease.
The rest is history.
To Be Continued……