By Amy Mullis
One sticky summer morning, the kind of day that peaks at dawn when the dew begins to boil and all the oxygen seems to have been sucked out of the atmosphere by a giant turkey baster, the roofers came. I was frolicking in the back yard with my new puppy playmate, Lucy, a mostly-Dachshund with baby lamb fleece fur and legs the size of paper clips. Frolicking entailed throwing a ball and then trotting off to fetch it while Lucy watched from a shady spot under a stand of tall pines.
Two large trucks roared into the driveway, chewing up the pavement and spitting out gravel. The door of the first truck creaked open and out rolled a man who should never wear horizontal stripes. He scratched his expansive belly, flicked a cigarette aside, and pulled off a black and gold CAT hat to draw a sweaty forearm across his brow.
“We’re here to do your roof,” he drawled with the same tones he might use to announce he was here to organize a Hell’s Angels rally. “I expect we’ll finish up in a couple of days.”
“Fine,” I answered weakly, backing toward the door. I reached to pick up Lucy who, as a general rule, is particularly demure around strangers, especially big, burly men who look as if they eat Dachshund biscuits for breakfast. At that moment, however, the door to the second truck opened and deposited a handful of shirtless, sweaty, multi-tattooed bodies in the driveway.
Throughout the ages, stories have been told and gently retold of delicate girls who fell prey to the ravages of love when they gave their hearts freely to the wrong man. Lucy was no different. She flew across the yard on the wings of puppy love and propelled herself into the crowd. All were silent for a moment.
“Is that a weasel?” one gentlemen asked, rubbing his belly.
“Naw,” answered his friend. “It’s a chipmunk. They’re all over the place around here.”
Blushing, I called Lucy. I waved doggie treats. She rolled onto her back, offering the opportunity for her new friends to stroke her fuzzy belly.
“Look at its feet.” Harsh laughter. “Looks like duck feet.”
"Her mother is a purebred Dachshund," I sniffed.
"Who's her daddy, Howard the Duck?" The group guffawed in unison.
I haven’t seen a group this witty since open mike night down at the Texaco station.
For the next two and a half days Lucy was a roofer groupie. She greeted them in the morning with wags and woofs. At lunchtime she joyfully shared their lunch, munching on sandwich crusts and cold fries. At night she watched them forlornly as they backed over my azaleas and down the drive. She was a lone wolf about to be fleeced. She was headed toward heartbreak.
On the third day, it happened. One last belly rub, one last ear tousled, and the Marlboro men loaded up their spare shingles, hauled their Heinekins into the truck and drove away for good. The truck jounced down the driveway like Model-T down a cobblestone road. Lucy sat by the steps, ears drooping and tail at half mast.
It’s the same old story. A good girl can try to change a bad boy, but he still turns out to be a dog.