“Let me guess,” Larry said. He dipped his chin and tilted his head toward his wife. “Mother Madeline?”
Veronica slammed the phone onto the table. A low groan pitched into a controlled scream through her clenched teeth. “She makes me crazy!” Veronica stood over the wooden cutting board and began to dice the carrots with renewed vigor. Her ponytail flailed side to side with each stroke of the paring knife.
Larry wagged his finger teasingly. “Now, now. Remember we can choose our friends, but we are blessed with our relatives.” He leaned back against the counter, hands in his pockets, facing her.
“Smart aleck,” she said and tossed a carrot at him. It bounced off his chest and landed on the tile floor.
Ginger gave a short bark. Larry patted the dog on the head and then scooped the carrot up and tossed it into the garbage in one smooth move. “So what's wrong now?”
“What's not wrong now?” She let her breath out, shook her head and then hurled the last bit of carrot into a nearby bowl. It gave a soft thud as it landed.“The same old stuff: the light bulb is out in the bathroom, the painters dripped blue paint on the white door, the hairdresser made her perm too tight, Elaine hasn't called her in a week, and by the way, 'how come I haven't heard from you lately'?”
Larry leaned forward and smiled at his wife. “Honey, you know that's the way your mom is. Why don't you do what your sister does?”
Veronica tilted her head in his direction and sucked in her cheeks. “Such as?”
Veronica let out an a deep sigh. “There is no such thing as ignoring my mother.”
Larry raised his eyebrows. “Then just do your penance, listen to her once a week, and move on.”
“Easy for you to say,” she pointed the knife at his chest. “I notice you don't try to make small talk with my mother.”
Larry laughed and splayed his fingers across his heart. “Me? That 'no-good bum' you married? The one who's going to give you defective children one day? No thanks. If I want to be treated like that I'd hang out at the Quaker Bar with the parolee crowd.”
Veronica lifted the cutting board, dumped the newly cut carrots into the bowl, and began to chop the onions. “I told her about my promotion. You know what she said?”
Larry grinned. “Congratulations?”
She rested her hands on the edge of the sink. “You are so funny.” She shook her head. “My ever supportive mother advised me to 'be careful'.” Veronica scooped up a handful of onions and tossed them into the bowl, where they slid across the top of the carrots. “She said, they usually give the 'underling' a boost right before they have a layoff.” Veronica closed her eyes, then opened them slowly. “She has such a knack for double insults. Before you can turn one cheek she's smacked the other one.”
Larry placed his hands on both of her shoulders and stared down into her fiery blue eyes. “Please, I beg of you, tell me you're not going to turn into your mother.”
She wiggled from under his grasp. “God forbid! Get this. Now she's obsessed with the puppies. She wants to come and see them.”
“Of course, you told her to hurry right over,” Larry said with a grin.
“Why does she care about the puppies?” The knife clattered as Veronica tossed it into the stainless sink. She turned to look at her husband.
“Because she knows you don't like dogs. Although I admit you have taken a liking to Ginger.” He absently reached down to rub the collie behind the ears. “Good girl. Good doggy,” he said.
Veronica glared at Larry and then at Ginger.
“Hey don't get mad at me.” He reached down and pulled Ginger to his side. ”Madeline's not my mother, thank God.”
“Amen to that!” Veronica began to scoop up the orange peel and onion scraps from the sink.
Larry moved behind her, slipped his arms around her waist, leaned his head onto her neck, and rocked her gently. “Want some good news?”
“Good news?” she asked.
“You'll be happy to know I've sold all the puppies, except the runt. She's cute, but breeders aren't interested in that crooked ear of hers.”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “Keep telling them how adorable she is; be convincing.” She rubbed her head against Larry's chin and sighed. “Love you though I do, I hope you get rid of that pup soon. I'm over the dog thing already.”
“You'd get used to another dog if she was around long enough,” Larry whispered into her ear.
Veronica broke free of his embrace. “Absolutely not. I love you, I'll love your dog, but I will not love your dog's dog. That puppy has got to go!”
Larry laughed and turned her around, grabbing both of her hands. He pulled her so close their noses almost touched. “You are soooooo mean.”
She pulled back. “No, I'm not. I just have limits and one dog is it.” She reached for the wooden cutting board and rinsed it in the sink.
“Okay. If it bothers you that much, I guess we can give her away, someone out there will love her.”
“Oh, please don't even try the guilt trip on me,” Veronica said.
“Okay, okay,” Larry said. “We made above cost on the other four pups, so I guess we can let this one go to a good home.”
Veronica looked at him and with hands on her hips she said, “You're such a sport.”
Larry started to pick at the freshly cut veggies. “As long as the pup's here, I think we should give her a name.”
“Give her a name? Why do that?” Veronica asked.
Larry looked into her eyes. “Because you keep saying things like 'Damn it, get out of the way' and 'Damn it, what are you into now?'” Mockingly he said, “You know your mother wouldn't approve of that kind of talk, even to a puppy.”
“My mother doesn't approve of anything.” Veronica paused and stared out of the window over the sink. A smile spread across her face and she started to giggle. Without turning around she said, “So, instead of 'Damn It' let's name her 'Madeline'.”
Larry burst out laughing and gave her a hug. “See. I'll say it again, you are soooooo mean.”
* * * *
Larry pulled into the garage and opened the back door into the kitchen. Ginger came running to him and nuzzled his hand. “Hey, girl. How's my gal doing?”
“Hey, how about me?” Veronica asked and tossed a dish towel over her shoulder.
Larry pulled off his suit jacket and hung it on the back of the chair. He walked to Veronica. “How's my favorite wife?” He gave her a quick kiss.
Veronica was moving leftovers from the fridge to the table. “I've got great news.”
“Really? I sure can use some good news today.”
She handed him two plates and nodded toward the table. “Bad day at work?”
“Boss was a bit cranky and I was in his line of fire.” Larry put the dishes on the table.
She stopped and looked at him. “What was it about?”
“I think he had a fight with his wife.” He pulled at his tie. “You know how you girls can make us mean.”
She pulled the towel from her shoulder and flicked it at him. “Right. It's always the wife's fault. Just for that, I should make you suffer before I tell you the good news,” she said.
“You better not or I might start to get a little cranky myself.”
Veronica widened her eyes and smiled broadly. “Madeline has found a new home.”
Larry reached for the napkins. “Really? Where?”
“The Oakside Rehabilitation Senior Care Center.”
“A senior center? What are they going to do with a dog?”
“They work with people recovering from strokes and heart attacks. My warm-hearted sister volunteers there.”
“That would be the sister your mother loves more than she loves you?”
“That's the one. You remember Elaine, the perfect daughter.”
“Yep. I've met her once or twice.”
“Elaine said they have birds and she thought a puppy might be good for them too.”
A furrow wrinkled Larry's forehead. “Stretching it a bit aren't you, from Tweedy to Fido?”
Veronica washed her hands and shrugged. “What's the difference? Animals are animals.” She pulled a casserole from the oven, grasping it with the ends of the dish towel, and set it on the table. She spooned out some chicken and rice and placed it onto each plate.
“I'm sure you didn't object to her suggestion,” Larry said.
“Heck no! Why would I do that? A puppy might be nice for them. They could talk to it, hold it, and play with it. It could be therapeutic.”
Larry sighed. “They could run over it with their wheelchairs, hit it with walkers, poke it with their canes.”
Veronica moved one plate toward him and narrowed her eyes. “That's not going to happen and we're not going to keep that dog one-minute longer.”
Larry reached over and patted her hand. “Poor Madeline. She's going to feel rejected if you give her away. She may need to see a shrink.”
Veronica pushed his hand away. “Stop with the guilt trip. You should be glad I found her a nice home before she came to a bad end.”
“A bad end?” He raised his hands in the air, palms out, and leaned backed in his chair. “You are sooooo mean,” he said with a laugh.
* * * *
Veronica rolled over in bed. Ginger was spread on top of the covers. Larry had just stepped out of the shower. Ginger looked at Veronica with mournful eyes. She reached over and gave the dog a friendly pat on the head. “Not to worry. I knew it was a package deal when I married him, you silly ol' dog. You're not going anywhere.”
Wrapped in a towel, Larry came into the bedroom. “So, did you and your mother have a nice visit last night?”
She rolled her eyes. “Right. If I would dye my hair a little darker, if my skirt wasn't so short, if I would just put on a few pounds, we would have had a great time together.”
Larry pulled on his shorts. “You got a call from Nurse Bloomquist today.”
“Nurse Bloomquist from the Oakside Rehabilitation Senior Care Center.”
Veronica jerked up against her pillow. “Don't tell me they're sending Madeline back!”
“No. Guess again.”
“You're a big celebrity.”
“Yes. Nurse Bloomquist wants you to come in for a photo op—with Madeline.”
“Is she crazy?”
“No, not at all. Seems the newspaper is doing a story about the therapeutic value of animals in trauma recovery. You and Madeline are stars.”
“You've got to be kidding!”
“Not according to Nurse Bloomquist. They've scheduled a series of monthly fundraisers and they want you to be the poster child, with Madeline of course.”
“I can't believe this craziness. I can't get that dog out of my life.”
Larry sat on the edge of the bed. Mimicking a reporter, he thrust a hairbrush toward her face. “So, Veronica, tell us how you came to name this cute little pup, Madeline? How could you part with such a darling little doggy?”
Veronica fell back onto the bed. She closed her eyes and slowly moved her head from side to side. “That dog is like someone else in my family. There's just no way to escape from her.”
# # #
Thank you for taking the time to read "Puppy Love."
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About the Author
Valerie Allen is a psychologist, educator, and author. She writes fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and children's books. She previously wrote a newspaper column, Family Matters. Her parenting articles have been published online and in magazines nationwide.
She is a popular speaker at book fairs, writers' conferences, and libraries, using her book, "Write, Publish, Sell! 2nd Edition."
She also conducts seminars for medical and mental health professionals using her self-help book, "Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony."
Her novels include: " Suffer the Little Children," "Sins of the Father," "Amazing Grace," "The Prodigal Son," and "My Father's Business." She has a series of popular anthologies," 'Tis Herself: Short Story Collection, Volumes One, Two, and Three ," "A Gift for Mom," and "Stories for the Man in Your Life."
She has written two chapter books for grades two to six, "Summer School for Smarties" and "Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends." She has also published a picture book for beginning readers, "The Sun and The Moon."
She has served as a member of the Space Coast Writers' Guild, The National League of American Pen Women, Cape Canaveral Branch, and is the co-founder of Authors for Authors.
She lives in warm and sunny Florida and enjoys reading and writing.
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Copyright 2013 by
All rights reserved
For more Information, please contact:
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America. All right reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.
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Short Stories by Valerie Allen
A Good Thing on a Bad Day
A License to Practice
A Marriage of Convenience
A Mother's Love
A Tooth for a Tooth
Ad Hoc Committee
Fire Engine Red
Fit for Life
Holiday House Rules
Home for the Holidays
I Remember Momma
Just Be Cos
Ladies in Waiting
Love is in the Air
Mother Knows Best
No Goin' Home
Split Second Timing
Thank You, Mr. Jackson!
The Garden of Love
The Lonely Life of Amanda Miller
The Penalty Box
Words of Wisdom