Thursday, May 31, 2018
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Here is his imaginative idea of why Maddie is in her current situation...
The dog had to go, thought Maddie Hammerhand. Of that she was sure. But how? She shuddered at the thought. The murderous considerations that winked and blinked through the cracks of her otherwise vigilant and well-order mind concerned her. The dog had to go? Yes, it had to go. How had she come to that conclusion? How had things reached this point? She took another sip of cheap wine, then sucked in a lungful of cigarette smoke. The articles she’d written had brought her to this.
She was a circumspect woman, a successful woman, the publisher of the much respected Conservative Singles Journal of Proper Courtship. To the journal’s staff, and its loyal readers, she was a model of proper conduct and appropriate behavior. Yet here she sat, smoking again after a decade of abstinence. And drinking house wine. Beside her panted the animal who she could not bring herself to kill. The dog who’d sunk a wedge squarely between herself and her perfect match, Kevin.
Oh, the dog, Olivia, was lovable, of that there was no question. That was the problem. Kevin loved her. The two were inseparable. She slept with him, fetched his slippers, patiently curled next to him while he watched the news, and licked his hand at the least provocation. The amount of affection she showed her master was sickening. The first time Maddie had witnessed Olivia greeting Kevin upon his return home from work she had to averted her eyes. It bordered on pornographic. Yet Kevin gobbled it up. That was her first hint that the dog had to go.
It was Maddie’s habit to check submissions to her publication’s Lonely—but Proper—Hearts Club, strictly for quality control purposes. That she was unmarried was of no real consequence. At least she told herself that. Kevin’s companionability survey showed up on her desk, and to her surprise, it matched her own at every point. He far outstripped any others she’d ever seen—not that she kept track. In a nutshell, he had it all—technically, a perfect romantic match—and Maddie was intrigued. She chose to handle his interview personally and was quite impressed. He exceeded her expectations. Had she not been the owner and publisher of a conservative journal renowned for its sensible courtship practices she might have felt like a school girl enthralled for the first time.
Being pragmatic, she saw the marketing potential in pairing up with Kevin, and wrote a personal article extolling the virtues of the Journal’s match-making capabilities. Keeping Kevin’s identity anonymous, she used herself as an objective example of romantic success, and predicted, in print, that if she could find Mr. Right anyone could. Her article went viral. The Journal’s subscriptions jumped ten points. Letters to the editor flooded in. It was rumored Fox News would invite her in for an interview, if their relationship blossomed.
Using approved proper courtship dating procedures as outlined in the Journal’s dating handbook, Maddie had allowed Kevin to ask her out for dinner. That evening, as fate would have it, Olivia had been at the vets after macadamia nuts, in a birthday cake Kevin had baked for her, caused severe intestinal disruptions. Their topic of conversation centered on Olivia’s condition, which, though improper dinner talk, Maddie found endearing. Kevin appeared to be a compassionate and caring pet owner. Granted, he showed signs of obsessive concern, but Maddie was willing to grant him leeway. She knew dog owners could be a bit crazy about their dogs. On Kevin’s submission form, Olivia had been listed in glowing terms as a beloved pet. Unfortunately, the form had no questions regarding excessive or abnormal animal attachment.
During the meal, Kevin was charming and attentive. When not talking about Olivia, he expressed his sincere belief in hard work and the American Way. They shook their heads as one over the disintegration of family values. A glass of excellent Pinot Noir later, Maddie found herself staring into Kevin’s rugged blue eyes. She became strangely aroused by his descriptions of his church volunteer work. And his staunch conservative views put butterflies in her stomach, and points south. During dessert she mentally undressed him, while drafting a follow-up article about their first date for the Journal. She decided the mention of wedding bells would not be out of line.
In hindsight, Maddie could see her gaffe in announcing the complete success of their first date. The increased volume of letters and further augmented subscriptions demanded she pursue a successful courtship—and look to consummate the relationship with a third, and possibly fourth, article. She’d written herself into a romantic corner. The reputation of her publication hung on their association. But, it became all too obvious on subsequent dates that Olivia was an obstacle to their true love. The dog forced herself between them, demanded Kevin’s complete attention, and even chewed up Maddie’s best shoes on a picnic. Kevin attempted to scold her, but it always ended in complete forgiveness. Maddie had had enough.
She wrested Olivia away from Kevin, explaining the dog and she needed a girl’s night out. He was surprisingly receptive, even encouraging. He’d began to sense the tension between Olivia and her and saw the gesture on Maddie’s part as an olive branch.
Maddie’s initial plan had been a trip to the Minnehaha dog park, with an unplanned stop midway along the Mendota Bridge. Engine trouble would be the excuse. In Maddie’s mind, Olivia sprang from the car, tragically slipped between the guard rails, and plunged into the turbid Mississippi. Maddie had dimly anticipated the need for her to physically assist in the accident, but in reality, one look into Olivia’s big brown eyes and Maddie lost her resolve. Tossing her under the wheels of a passing truck entered Maddie’s mind, but she was unable to act. Her spirit had been defeated. The dog had unnerved her. The motivation was there, but not the will.
Now, they sat in a tatty restaurant bar, around the corner from Kevin’s place, the dog park forgotten. Maddie worked on her second glass of red wine. If Olivia were to be disposed of, someone else will have to do the dirty work, Maddie concluded. Another try at the bridge was out of the question. However, the speeding vehicles that had whizzed so closely by them had given her ideas. The appearance of an accident was needed. Dogs were hit by cars all the time. Maddie imagined one of the large trucks that delivered her publications catching Olivia crossing the road. Kevin did often let her off her lease. Who would suspect? Ah, but what were the odds of a truck being in the right spot at the right time. Maddie needed another glass of wine.
The waitress approached cautiously and said, “Would you care to see a menu?”
Olivia barked. To Maddie’s ear it was a definite “Yes” to the menu offer. She looked up at the waitress and noticed her name was Milly.
“’Nother glass of wine.” Maddie said.
“Coming up,” Milly said and smiled, nodding her head. “Say, if you don’t mind me asking, is that your dog?”
“Not mine,” Maddie said with antipathy. “Belongs to my boyfriend, and I use the term loosely.”
“Looks a lot like a dog that comes in weekends. Regular as clockwork. Loves meatloaf. The guy that brings her feeds her like she’s his kid. Named Olivia.”
Olivia barked at her name and wagged her tail.
“Hi, girl. It’s you, isn’t it?” Milly scratched her ear. “Yes it is.”
Maddie’s face brightened in a somewhat untoward fashion. “Her name is indeed Olivia,” she said. “What a coincidence.” Like the worm gears of a demented clock, Maddie’s orderly brain recognized a possibility.
“Pardon me, Milly. But I wonder if you could tell me exactly when Olivia comes to your restaurant on weekends?”
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Thursday, April 19, 2018
In July I am headed to the 9th Symposium of the International Urban Sketchers in Porto, Portugal. Upon my return I'll offer playful workshops on Sketching in the City in collaboration with my solo show at Landmark Center in Saint Paul - July-Aug. Join me for a free spirited experience that will open you to your hidden creative self. More scheduling details to come.