James LePore: Project 52/2015: Frankie

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14814_1739007lFrankie, © James LePore

My mother is not a cat. I know she thinks that I think she is, but I have no way of telling her I know she isn’t, and wouldn’t even if I could. What’s the harm in letting her think this? None. The reason I know she’s not a cat is the way she dealt with the dog next door. Like most dogs he’s got a one-track mind. Play, slobber, eat, sleep, repeat, with a lot of barking in between. Completely un-nuanced. At first I thought he was gay. I’ve run across gay dogs and they sometimes get into a panic, I’m not sure why. Gay, straight, whatever. I’m neutered and therefore out of the sex wars. Believe it or not, his name was Bruce.

His owner kept Bruce on a long rope in their front yard. He barked at everything that went by and many things that didn’t, or perhaps that only he saw. He hated squirrels particularly and would leap at them. I thought he was going to break his neck doing this, but it never seemed to faze him when he got snapped back. Dogs have very short memories. His rope would get tangled around the tree it was tied to, and my mother would go over and unwrap it for him.

That’s how the trouble started. Bruce’s owner came outside one day and told mom to leave the rope alone or she would call the police. Mom obeyed but she wasn’t happy. She liked to sit on the front porch in the late afternoon, after her housework was done, and sip lemonade and watch the day go by. Seeing Bruce all tangled up ruined this for her. After a week or so of this I couldn’t take it any more. One night, I went over to the rope and clawed it about three-quarters through, near where it was tied to the tree. The next day Bruce leaped at a squirrel, and to his shock, and the squirrel’s, the rope didn’t jerk him back. The squirrel headed across the road to a playground where kids played on swings and otherwise ran around. Bruce ran over one of these kids at about a hundred miles an hour. All hell broke loose.

When the dust settled, the town gave Bruce’s owner a ticket and told her to keep Bruce tied up and even told her not to mistreat Bruce. Someone must have gotten their ear, perhaps my mom. A few days later a moving truck pulled up next door and Bruce’s owner and her husband loaded it with all their belongings and drove away behind it. They left the front door open, and sure enough out came Bruce onto the front porch, wagging his tail tentatively and looking first one way and then the other up and down the block. My mom, who was having her lemonade, called him and he came bounding over and started licking her like she was a huge bowl of ice cream. She was laughing and maybe crying too, I couldn’t tell. She loves all kinds of animals.

So now Bruce lives with us. Sometimes when I’m sunning myself on the couch in the living room, my mom will walk by and say something which I interpret as, It’s funny how that whole thing with Bruce worked out, isn’t it Frankie? Maybe she did handle the Bruce situation right. Maybe she does know that I know she’s not a cat. She’s pretty smart for a human.

Or is she a human?


About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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On April 23, 2015
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