Little guy

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Author: Glenn Deutsch
Date: Spring 2014
From: Confrontation(Vol. 115)
Publisher: Long Island University, C.W. Post College
Document Type: Short story
Length: 6,755 words
Lexile Measure: 1080L

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I couldn't take care of one more thing. That's what I learned within a couple of months of my mother's bringing Little Guy out from Long Island to live with me, Lilia and Anja, our three-year-old, in Madison. Positive that Anja needed a toy poodle who was house-trained and beyond reproach temperamentally, and with my exercise-obsessed father shopping for a new second dog he could walk harder than old Hey-U, my mother by phone sawed and plucked on Anja's anticipation until one evening at the end of August she plunged through Dane County Regional Airport bearing our one-and-a-half-eyed adoptee in a cat carrier.

She'd advertised Little Guy as a "puppy," though he was already five. He was eight inches tall and eight pounds, with a grown-out, fuzzy apricot coat. Certainly he was puppyish in showing no mating instinct despite anatomical intactness. I had been away at college and my sister in high school when my parents bought Little Guy for less than one fourth of the going rate for a purebred toy poodle. He'd been drastically discounted for an eye defect: a too-tight opening between his left upper and lower eyelids. The breeder had mentioned the possibility of corrective surgery, but I never saw the need, and didn't now. He could see from both eyes, and they appeared bright and sharp. He was cute even with the flaw.

"Here's your new puppy!" my mother pealed when I opened the apartment door. Dressed in summer PJs, her ropy hair still damp from bathing, Anja was sitting with a book on Lilia's lap. Lilia released her and my mother knelt and unlatched the carrier gate. Little Guy stood still. Anja bent sideways to see inside the carrier. "Oh, hi, Little Guy," she said.

"Oh, hi, Lilia," my mother managed to greet my wife. "How're you?"

"Fine, Myra, nice to see you. How was the flight?" With that, Lilia pushed Anja forward, saying, "Go see your puppy, and don't forget to say thank you to Grandma."

Anja shuffled toward the dog as he exited the carrier, head held high. He nodded at me, licked Anja's fingertips, glanced at Lilia, and circled back to stand next to my mother. "He's happy to see you," my mother told Anja. "He just needs to get accustomed here."

"He'll be here when you wake up," 1 called out as Lilia carried Anja off to bed.

At last my mother took a place on the giant orange corduroy pit sofa that nearly filled our living room. I dragged a dining room chair across the carpet to sit opposite her. The dog came over to me. My mother smiled. "I remember thinking he would like it here. It's so cozy."

"Ma, stop with the selling," I said.

Lilia and I owned a starter income property in central Madison with two efficiencies upstairs, our one-bedroom downstairs (Anja slept in a converted walk-in pantry), a two-car parking strip for a front yard, and not much more space in the back. Such...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A370753061