It’s Sunday morning and I’m hurting.

My brother’s bachelor party was Friday night and I’m still trying to shake off the after effects. My pounding headache morphed into fatigue about the same time my joints began to throb. Goddamn that scantily clad shooter girl and her $2 tubes of poison. Why did she pour that stuff down my throat? Oh that’s right – I asked her to. Things are still kinda of hazy.

I hole up behind the hostess stand with a newspaper and an extra large cup of coffee. My eyes feel like the inside of an empty beer bottle. I’ve got to be on the floor twelve hours today. I have no idea how I’m going to make it. I turn to the paper and start reading about the lusty fight brewing over Sandra Day O’ Conner’s replacement. I remember when she was appointed.

Engrossed in thrilling reading about Originalist versus Deferential Judicial Conservatism I begin to forget how much pain I’m in. The Bistro’s slow. Everyone’s away for the holiday. I take a sip of my coffee and settle in for a slow afternoon. I pray no one bothers me.

Suddenly a shadow falls across my paper. God’s seems to be ignoring me today.

“Excuse me how long has that dog been there?” a female voice says.

I look up. An intense looking middle aged woman hovers over me.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?” I ask painfully.

“I said how long has that dog been in that car?” the lady says pointing towards the street.

I look outside. A little dog is sitting inside a Mercedes Benz.

“I don’t know Madam.”

“Well it’s been cooped up there since we’ve been here,” the lady huffs.

“And how long have you been here?” I inquire.

“Half an hour.”

“So what’s the problem?”

The woman glares at me. “You shouldn’t leave a dog inside a hot car.”

“But Madam, it’s not hot out.”

“Look at the poor thing. He’s suffering,” she says oblivious to me.

I look back at the dog. His tail’s wagging.

“He seems alright to me.”

“I can’t enjoy my meal with this going on,” the woman pouts.

The woman’s a kook. The dog’s fine. What do I look like? The ASPCA?

“Madam, if it appears the dog’s in distress I’ll call the cops,” I say trying to humor her.

The woman shakes her head and returns to her window table. I turn back to my paper.

Five minutes later the woman comes back.

“Did you call the cops?” she asks.

“No Madam.”

“Why not?”

“The dog’s fine.”

“How do you know?” she counters harshly.

I reluctantly put down my paper and go outside. The temperature’s a pleasant 76 degrees. I walk up to the luxury automobile. The car’s parked in the shade and the windows are open halfway. I reach inside. The dog licks my hand. His nose is cold and wet. He waves his tail excitedly. The interior of the car is cool. No problems. I walk back inside.

The woman is back at her table. I go over to reassure her.

“Madam, the inside of the car is cool. Everything’s fine. Enjoy your lunch.”

“You see Rachel,” the woman’s husband says, “the dog’s ok.”

“It’s still wrong Bob,” she counters.

“The waiter will keep on eye on him,” Bob says.

Thanks for the promotion Bob. Now I’m the dogcatcher.

“I can’t stand when people mistreat animals,” Mrs. ASPCA growls cutting into her $25 hunk of charred animal flesh.

I smile to myself. That dog’s chilling in a $100,000 car. The bovine she’s eating wasn’t so lucky. The last thing that went through its mind was a stainless steel bolt.

“Enjoy your steak madam,” I say returning to the hostess stand.

I have a little dog. I take good care of him. If the pooch in the Benz was suffering I’d call the cops in a heartbeat. But there’s no abuse going on here – just an overwrought woman whose passion has no connection to reality other than her need to indulge in some gratuitous self righteous anger. I turn back to my paper.

The door chimes. A pleasant looking lady comes in to order some takeout. As I’m writing down her order I notice the owner of the Mercedes has returned. His little girl’s contentedly eating an ice cream cone. The dog tries to sneak in a lick. The girl giggles.

Suddenly Mrs. ASPCA runs out the front door almost running my takeout customer over.

“What’s her problem?” Takeout Lady asks alarmed.

“I think she’s seen one too many episodes of Animal Cops.”

Ms. ASPCA goes up to the owner of the Benz and sticks her finger in his face. I can’t hear what’s she’s saying through the window but it can’t be good.

The man flushes with anger, but to his credit, makes a quick recovery. He talks to his accuser in what seems to be an even manner. The man’s daughter looks frightened.

Meanwhile the little dog barks angrily at Mrs. ASPCA.

“I’ll bet there’s an interesting story behind all this,” Takeout Lady remarks. I fill her in on the details.

“I love my dog too,” she sighs, “but that lady’s an idiot.”

The Mercedes Benz pulls away. Mrs. ASPCA storms back inside.

“I want to leave Robert,” she barks at her hapless mate.

“Let me pay bill first for Chrissakes,” her husband growls. His wife returns outside to wait for him – her face contorted in a rictus of seething anger.

The husband asks for the bill. I ring it up for him and he pays it. He shakes his head.

“I’m sorry for the scene,” he says quietly.

“What can I say? She likes animals,” I reply.

The man smiles ruefully and leaves.

“That poor man,” Takeout Lady says.

“Something tells me his wife loves her dog more than him,” I reply.

“Well – you know what they call a female dog?” Takeout Lady asks grinning.

“Indeed I do madam,” I chuckle

I hand the lady her order and wish her a nice day.

“Don’t let this place go to the dogs,” she laughs.

You ain’t kidding,” I reply.

Takeout Lady leaves. I turn back to my paper.

“Please God,” I whisper, “no more lunatics today.”

I hope He listens to me this time.

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