Paws for Alarm

Paws for Alarm by Marian Babson

Book: Paws for Alarm by Marian Babson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marian Babson
in with my theory. ‘It was just a touch of that old anti-American spirit coming to the surface. “Yankee go home!” and all that stuff.’
    â€˜But how could they know I was American? They were too far away to hear my accent.’
    â€˜Arnold, you look American. It’s written all over you. You might as well go around wearing a star-spangled shirt and whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy. You’d even look hopelessly American in a Savile Row suit.’
    â€˜You think so?’ Arnold looked into space pensively. ‘I’ve got to admit it, honey –’ He paused and took a deep breath for the confession. ‘I’d really love to go home wearing a Savile Row suit.’
    â€˜If you do,’ I warned, ‘I’m buying a Jean Muir dress.’
    Arnold brightened perceptibly. ‘It’s a deal, Babe!’
    With Arnold hanging around the house all day, the week took on a different shape. Also, we had the car back, which was a great help. I had to do all the driving but Arnold, once he had painfully settled himself into the passenger seat, seemed perfectly happy there. Too happy — he went everywhere with me.
    Of course, that immediately doubled the grocery bills. Arnold is unsafe at any speed in a supermarket. Let me turn my back for one second and he loaded the shopping trolley with enough extras to provision an army.
    He was as bad as the twins and they all had the same sneaky trick: they buried their stuff under the things I was buying so that I didn’t know what they’d done until I’d reached the checkout cashier and it was too late.
    â€˜Okay, you guys –’ I whirled on my brood as the cashier’s hand unearthed yet another surprise packet. ‘Who the hell put in those pickled eggs?’ As though I didn’t know.
    â€˜I thought they might make an interesting cocktail nibble, honey,’ Arnold owned up. Behind him, there was a surreptitious giggle and I turned back to the cashier in time to see her tapping the cash register for half a dozen chocolate bars and a big cake.
    â€˜Okay,’ I said darkly, ‘but I’m confiscating those and only handing them out when you deserve them.’
    Another little giggle answered this threat. Arnold was smirking suspiciously, too. What else had they done?
    I soon found out. I took one look at the next item the cashier tossed on to the counter and almost fainted. The giggles rose to a crescendo. I swallowed hard and lost my temper.
    â€˜Don’t you dare ring that up!’ I thundered at the cashier. Her fingers froze over the cash register.
    â€˜I suppose you think that’s funny!’ I rounded on Arnold and the kids.
    They did. They thought it was the funniest thing they’d seen since Errol tangled with a skunk at home and we’d had to spend half a day with clothes pegs over our noses bathing the furious cat in tomato juice.
    â€˜And you -!’ The cashier had begun to snicker, too. ‘I think that’s revolting! I don’t know how you can sell such a thing. It’s obscene!’
    â€˜It’s a very popular item,’ the girl sniffed. ‘Particularly among our older customers. They like to make their own brawn.’
    â€˜All brawn and no brains,’ Arnold muttered. He still thought it was hilarious.
    I didn’t. I’d seen that ... that ... thing ... in the meat compartment and shrunk away in unbelieving horror. And one of my loving family had caught the motion and picked up the item and buried it at the bottom of my shopping trolley – doubtless hoping to send me off my trolley, and damn near succeeding.
    It was a pig’s head. To be precise – and even more disgusting – a pig’s head split in two. It was neatly laid out in a large tray; one half was cloven side up, displaying veins, brains, gristle and all manner of horrifying inner workings; the other half was perhaps worse, it was the head in profile, one

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