“Let Slip The Dogs”


Clewt usually ate a leisurely lunch sometime between one-thirty and two, after he took the last of his noon time clients home. But that day, he grabbed an energy bar and an apple at a corner deli and munched as he made his way back to the Pummfritt home. He let himself into the building with his pass card, then rang the doorbell as usual.

Sirillian was not at all prompt in answering the ring. Clewt was a bit put out when she finally did open the door.

“You said a little before two, I believe, ma’am,” he said, with more than a little growly accusation in his tone.

“Oh, Clewt, don’t be cross with me. I’m feeling very fragile today.”

“Really? How is Slick feeling, do you suppose?” he said, rubbing the animal’s head.

The dog had come to Clewt at once, bouncing with excitement at the man’s return.

“I’m sure he’s fine, why? What is this about?”

Instead of answering, Clewt took the woman’s hand, and she pouted hard when he led her down a short hallway to the den. She had on a teal silk lounging set and feathery, medium heeled mules, but her hair and makeup were just so, ready for business. Telling the retriever to stay outside, he shut the door behind them, and went immediately to sit at the end of chaise longue, her hand still firmly gripped in his.

“How many times have I told you that paté and cream cheese and caviar and shrimp in cocktail sauce are not dog food, Sirillian?”

Her frown turned to a heavy scowl. “But I never …”

“Nah!” He stopped her with a warning finger, then pulled her right across his lap. “Don’t tell me that, young lady. We have had this discussion before, but it seems we must start over.”

“Clewt, no! I learned my lesson last time, honestly! Ow!”

His hand smacked hard into the seat of her silky trousers, then he grabbed the elastic waistband and pulled them down. She wore nothing beneath the trousers, and she squeaked when the next swat landed on bare, round cheeks.

“That is completely untrue, missy. I see what comes out of your dog, so I know what you put into him,” he said, somewhat untruthfully, “and you will be getting extra for fibbing to me.”

“Please, no! Ow! Ouch! Clewt! Not so hard! I don’t mean to!”

“You don’t mean to bring home doggie bags full of ridiculously rich party leftovers and watch him gobble them up with a big smile on your face, young lady?”

“Ow, ow, ow, Clewt! My bum is on fire, please stop!”

“You didn’t answer my question, Sirillian. Did you accidentally feed him that garbage? Did you?”

“No! Yes! Owee! I won’t do it anymore, I swear, I’m sorry!”

“Are you sorry you fibbed to me, too, trying to cover up for this outrage?”

“Yes, yes, ow, ouch, please, Clewt, I won’t be able to sit for a week!”

“Say it, missy, say you’re sorry you fibbed to me.”

“Yes, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I fibbed, Clewt, please, no more! I’m dying!”

He reached high and came down hard right across her cleft to finish, drawing a heartfelt howl from the woman, then slipped the trousers back, more or less, into place before turning her over and seating her on his lap. She sniffled, cuddling into his broad chest and kissing his cheek.

“You are really, truly awful, Clewt, and you’ve ruined my makeup, and my hair, too, no doubt. And I have only half an hour to pull myself together before Maybella’s car comes to collect me.”

“Uh huh? And?”

She sighed. “And I’m very sorry I was bad, and I won’t bring any more doggie bags home.”

“Then you’re forgiven.”

“But he just looks so happy when I give him those things.”

He shook his head. “Believe me, Sirillian, he’s just as happy with a new rawhide chew as with those nasty little treats.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I know dogs.”

She nodded and kissed him again. “Yes, I expect you do. You certainly know me.”

“I have to believe I do. Feeling better now?”

“Very much so, thank you. I’ve just been so on edge the past few days, but I’ll be dazzling at the fundraiser this afternoon. A scorched bum always brings out my best game.”

Clewt chuckled, took her hand, and kissed it. “You could just ask, you know.”

“No, I couldn’t.” Kissing his cheek again, she got to her feet. “There’s an envelope on the table by the door for you, if you’d like to see yourself out.”

Giving her the crooked Gritt grin, he bowed. “Thank you very much, ma’am.”

“I must start putting myself to rights.” She almost turned away, then reached out and caught his arm. “And I’ve decided to give up drinking during the day, before four, I mean. No more mellowing in the midmorning or at lunch.”

He nodded, giving her his least Gritt look. “That’s very health-conscious of you.”

“I will need help.”

“I am here for you, ma’am.”

His grin and wink became exceptionally Gritty at that point. Sirillian whimpered softly when he turned to leave.

The envelope on the table contained a fifty-thaler note. He slipped it into his pocket, then gave Slick a goodbye head rub.

“See you at six, big guy.”

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