“You’re looking very smug tonight, Harold,” said Edith, as she set the table for dinner.
Harold took a long swig of his beer, leaned back in his favourite chair and smiled at her.
“I’ve fixed that yapper for good,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Edith turned and frowned at him.
“Never again will we have to hear that constant yapping from next door,” said Harold. “Never again will we have to watch where we step in our own front yard because that mutt has done his business on our property.”
Edith’s eyes widened as she stared at her husband.
“What have you gone and done, Harold?”
Harold shrugged and looked away.
“A dog needs a good home. It needs space; not concrete paths like in this street full of houses.”
“Harold! What have you done with their dog?”
Edith put down the plates and marched over to Harold’s chair, standing in front of him with her arms on her hips.
“You’d better not have done anything with their dog, or I’ll—well, I don’t know what I’ll do but I’ll be very angry.”
“Relax, Edith, I haven’t touched the dog.”
Harold waved her away and went back to his beer, refusing to say any more about the dog, or the neighbours, talking instead of his day at work, and by the time they had finished dinner, Edith had worked herself into a state over the dog. She kept getting up to look out of the window but she could not see all the way into the neighbours’ yard, and she did not want to look as if she were spying on them.
“They’ll think you’ve got something to hide, if you keep poking your head around the curtains like that,” Harold said, thrusting his arm into his coat and grabbing his car keys. “I’m just going out for a bit.”
Harold disappeared into the garage and a moment later she heard the noise of the garage opening and the car reversing out. Edith busied herself with the dishes and keep looking out of the window, hoping to catch sight of the dog, but instead she saw Joanna Marley from next door coming up their driveway. Edith hurriedly wiped her hands and rushed to open the door before Joanna had even rung the bell.
“Oh, hello, Joanna, I was, er, just, er—”
“Edith, have you seen Charlie?” Joanna asked, peering around Edith as if she expected the dog to be hiding inside the house. “He’s been missing for several hours and I know he sometimes likes to run around in your yard.”
“No, sorry, I haven’t seen him,” said Edith, glad that she did not have to lie about that, and wondering where Harold had gone and what he had done with the dog.
“Will you keep an eye out for him?” asked Joanna, who had turned and was now looking around the shrubs, clenching and unclenching her fists.
“Of course I will, and I’ll ask Harold if he’s seen him as soon as he comes home.” Edith kept the smile fixed on her face until she closed the door and then let out a big sigh. She was certain Harold had somehow got rid of the dog next door and that he would be found out and there would be a horrible fight with the Marleys. And all because the dog yapped. And left stuff in their yard. And there was the time it bit her nephew. And–
Edith stopped thinking of the dog and began to think about Harold. What could he have done, and where had he gone?
It was late before Harold came back and from the smell of him he had been drinking, but he was still very pleased with himself and he planted a loud,wet kiss on Edith’s cheek.
“Nice and quiet here, isn’t it?”
Edith pushed him away and frowned at him.
“Harold! What have you done with that dog? Joanna was here asking if we’ve seen it and I didn’t know what to say.”
“The dog’s gone out west,” said Harold. “There was a removal van two streets over; the people are heading out to the country and they had a big sofa in the back of the van. All I did was throw some dog treats into the van and that mutt was in there like greased lightning. I’ll bet those two young kids will be delighted to have a dog when they get to their new home.”
Edith stood staring at Harold, her eyes wide, not sure what to say.
“Come on Edith, you hated that dog as much as I did, with its constant barking. Think about it—the dog gets a new home, some kids are happy, the Marleys find something else to fill their time and we can walk on our grass in bare feet again.”
Edith shook her head. She was sure there would be trouble once the dog was discovered, but at least she could truthfully say that she had no idea where the dog was. She opened the window to let in some air and for the first time noticed the quiet, and even heard the frogs croaking. Perhaps Harold had done the right thing after all.