Animals Don’t Criticize But They Do Judge

 

“Animals are such agreeable friends . . . they ask no questions; they pass no criticism” … George Elliot

 

Mister rose to his feet and tip-toed three steps to the metal door of our mobile home. The hair on his back rising as he reached the door. Three sharp knocks announced a visitor. Rosalie struggled to her feet then leaned back to balance the watermelon-size protrusion that was to be our firstborn. Mister positioned himself between her and the door as she waddled towards it.

 

A hard-looking woman had been standing on the top of the three wood steps. She was forced to move down to the ground as Rosalie pushed the door open. The woman was dressed in dirty Levi cutoffs that rode high on her overly muscled thighs. A much washed and faded orange T-shirt did nothing to hide she wasn’t wearing a bra. The sweet/sour odor of unwashed armpits caused Rosalie to wrinkle her nose. The apparition’s face was leathery from too much sun, her hair a curly mop, dyed bright red. Her too thin lips were drawn into a sarcastic half sneer. She held her right hand behind her back.

 

“Yes,” Rosalie inquired?

“The Vet here?”

“No, I’m sorry. He’s out on calls.”

“You recognize me?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“Thought you might, my picture’s been in both the Republic and Gazette. I was just acquitted for the murder of my girlfriend.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Mister leaned harder against Rosalie. She took a step back.

 

“I’m a professional wrestler, Killer Amy, maybe you’ve heard of me?”

“No, I’m sorry, I haven’t.”

She brought her hand from behind her back, holding a chunk of skin covered with thick gray hair. Mister rumbled.

“I need to have the Vet tell me if this is human or not. I found it on my property. I don’t need more trouble. Will that dog attack?”

“My husband should be back soon. Can you come back in an hour or two?”

“Can’t I just leave it and he can call me when he gets back? I’ll leave you my phone number if you’ve got pen and paper.”

 

The woman put a foot on the first step and extended the scalp. It smelled like meat left on the counter overnight by mistake. Mister rumbled louder and leaned against Rosalie forcing her back another step.

 

“I think it would be much better if you kept it in your possession until he can look at it.”

 

“Well, if you say so. You think he’ll be back in an hour?” She backed up a step as Mister growled again. “That dog’s pretty protective ain’t he?”

 

The mobile home was parked behind our still under-construction veterinary hospital. We expected to overcome the delays and get the hospital open within the next few months but meantime I was taking horse and other animal house calls. I even neutered a few dogs on our kitchen table, much to Rosalie’s obvious consternation. However, she never voiced her displeasure.

 

I was back and eating lunch when the lady wrestler returned. I went outside to examine the scalp. “Looks like jackrabbit to me. I doubt it’s human, but I can’t say for sure. If I were you I would take it to the police. They have labs that can identify human remains.”

 

We never found out if she took it to the police. We did see her name in the newspaper, the sports page, two weeks later. A story about a wrestling match.