Maybe I’m just old now but I think medicine is going to hell in a hand basket.
Everything’s gone turnstyle, click, click, click, so when I get the whole story, it leaves me two hours behind. Most of the type A’s fired me long ago, bless their hearts (Southern for ahfuckem), so at least that pressure is off.
I had a little time to spare when Lisa Michelle Murphree came bellyaching from Woodstock. Not THAT Woodstock. The little country town in Bibb County, recently featured on a podcast titled S-town, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast), never saw it, but Joey Hubbard, a native, said it was killer.
That Woodstock. Salt of the earth, dirt farmers and coal miners, lately dignified by the Mercedes plant in Vance, some pretty nice bass boats now. Mostly not meth, there’s a confederate war monument in the tiny town square, a nod to an antique pride.
Lisa Michelle is an achetype, a solid if inefficient churchgoer. Methodist, she said. She came to me with a sense that food wasn’t moving through. Busted seams attest to an efficient metabolism, weakening her argument.
Regardless, all that fell away when she saw the pictures of our dogs, Brindle, a 15 year old scattershot rescue mongrel- see if you can guess her color- and Jack, the incontinent cocker spaniel. He’s a car chaser who never thinks twice whether he’d like to piss or go blind, the puddles accumulated til we took up the rugs.
She told me about her pit bull- Muffy. The name won’t null my suspicion of the breed, but apparently she’s a sweet cuddly sort of pit bull, attentive to her mistress, no slasher.
Twain’s long dead, but picket fences still hold- in Woodstown, NJ, and in Bibb County AL, it could still be 1890, Edison and Bell on the march, Booker T reinventing the peanut.
Nobody reads Frost anymore, except possibly Dr Rossi.
These fences don’t make for good neighbors- too easily overed and undered, as Muffy demonstrated, which created a social problem. Mrs Allen, the neighbor adjacent, has something of the haughty about her. Lisa Michelle thinks an Episcopalian. Perhaps that would explain it, but I never met her. Mrs Allen didn’t search long to name her rabbit, Fluffy, a fat black and white, of the checkered giant breed, kept in a raised wire pen.
Three or four times, Muffy got over the fence, sat under the rabbit pen, barking obsessed until Mrs Allen came out looking more like Calvin than we’d expect from the church of England. Harsh words were passed, Lisa Michelle hauled Muffy home, embarrassed as only a child can make you. Swore to tie Muffy to a post if it came to that, or to ruin the aesthetic with a chain link fence to pen her.
But it’s hot down here, and heat leads to inertia, or maybe optimism, so she mostly kept Muffy in the house, or on a leash.
Lisa Michelle has kids. Trust them to leave a door open, in and out all day. With hindsight, it was inevitable.
A Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Michelle, home a little early, found Muffy with Fluffy in her jaws, growling, shaking like a paint can.
I know you wouldn’t, but if you did happen to murder someone, what would you do?
For me, I know my guilty choice. I’m right there with Lisa Michelle for this next part, an accomplice.
She pried the rabbit loose from Muffy, no small task, though apparently Muffy was a little guilty, hid under the back porch afterwards. Lisa Michelle ran into her house carrying the crumpled mess. Sat at the kitchen table with the ruined rabbit in her lap, catching her breath, thinking of consequences.
Own up, face the wrath of Mrs A, the I told you sos? Unbearable.
Disappear it, Jimmy Hoffa? The circle of suspects was too small.
She came to it slowly, then jumped up in a rush. Movement allays anxiety, creates its own logic- this’ll work.
She bathed the corpse, shampooed its long hair, set her blow dryer to work, fluffed it with comb and brush.
Quickly now, before Mrs Allen returns, jump the low fence, crouch across the yard, open the pen, deposit the evidence, lock it up, scoot back even faster. At the fence, remember to scrape the mulch back over her footprints, pretty smart. Hop over the fence, into the house still in the ungainly crouch, then straighten up. Boil water… look busy. Begin to giggle after a few minutes. Is this how bank robbers feel after the escape, dumping the gym bag’s cash onto a bed?
Tachycardia fades, a little nausea, then back to normal.
At 7, a pounding at the door, the buzzer bypassed. Walk the plank to the door, open it halfway, nose around it, left foot bracing the base,
What is it?
Who has been messing around in my yard?
Who did it?!
Who was in my yard, did you see them?!
Speaking through the globus now, WHAT are you talking about?
My rabbit! Fluffy!
Fluffy died and we buried her two days ago, and now she’s back in her pen! How did that happen?
Dumbfounded was easy. Lisa Michelle pulled it off.