A Hell of a Dog

A Hell of a Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin

Book: A Hell of a Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carol Lea Benjamin
talking about someone she’d been with in Phoenix that she might be with again here. That’s all.”
    â€œRachel, it was an accident. That’s what the police said. Please keep in mind that any other conclusion could ruin me. Anyway, most of them have been in Phoenix. What you heard, it didn’t mean anything. And if you do find out who was there with Alan, then what?”
    â€œI only wanted to return these,” I said, holding my pocket open so that Sam could see what was inside.
    â€œ There they are,” she said, slipping her hand into my pocket and gathering the bikinis into her fist.
    My mouth opened, but nothing came out. Anyway, don’t the Chinese say, One pair of underwear is worth more than ten thousand words? What was there to add?
    â€œWhere’d you find them?” she asked, opening her purse and dropping them in. “Never mind. I don’t want to know. Anyway, thanks, Rachel. I knew you’d earn your wages.”
    I tried to imagine Sam and Alan, but it was as unthinkable and distasteful as trying to imagine one’s parents having sex, which everyone knew only happened very early in their marriage, and only as many times as there were offspring.
    â€œI’m grateful it was you who found them and not the police,” she whispered. “Can you imagine how much fun that interrogation would have been?”
    She turned and held the door open for me. “Come along,” she said. “Rick is about to begin. It’s nap time.” And with that she led the way, then continued on up to the stage to introduce him after I dropped off near the back and slid into an empty seat two rows behind Martyn Eliot and Cathy Powers, signaling Dashiell to lie down in front of me.
    â€œThere’s been a slight change in the program,” Sam was saying. “This afternoon, we are lucky to have Rick Shelbert, dog behaviorist to the stars and author of Positively Perfect , talking about some of his most fascinating cases. Dr. Shelbert, as you know, has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been working with dog owners for twelve years. Let’s give him a warm welcome.”
    Dashiell lifted his head during the applause and put it back down as Rick approached the microphone, hoping perhaps to be first to fall asleep, but he didn’t come close. Rick’s Saint Bernard, Freud, who had been asleep near the chair in which Rick had been sitting during Sam’s introduction, never woke up when his master moved. From where I sat, I couldn’t be positive , but chances were good he was snoring and drooling too.
    As Rick began, I noticed that not everyone was listening. Martyn seemed to be more engrossed in his conversation with Cathy than he was in what was happening on the stage.
    In fact, I seemed to being having trouble concentrating on Rick myself. I thought the acoustics might be better if I moved up a row. But I thought that might be too obvious, so instead I leaned forward, resting my arms on the empty seat in front of me, then leaning my chin on the back of one hand.
    â€œHer father left the family when she was just a kid, you see,” Martyn was saying. He was so wrapped up in Cathy he hadn’t noticed me practically breathing down his neck. “It really messed her up badly.”
    Cathy nodded as he spoke. She was pretty wrapped up herself.
    â€œThere’s no way I could leave her at this time,” he said. “It would seem a repetition of her past, as if I were doing to her what her father had done, as if it were happening all over again.”
    â€œHow sad.”
    I thought I detected a touch of sarcasm in Cathy’s voice, but Martyn didn’t seem to notice.
    Rick was talking about a collie he’d worked with. The dog was afraid of men, so Rick had had the owner play a tape of men speaking and offer the dog bits of liver while it played.
    â€œNext,” he said, “we took him out, and whenever a man came into view,

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