Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pet Sitting

Bonnie's parents dropped her off at the Stephenson's home and waited outside in the truck. She waved them away anxiously, terrified and embarrassed that Mr. Stephenson would see her perky suburban blonde parents sitting in their Ford, eating McDonalds. Bonnie jumped up and down, waving desperately for them to leave, yelling "You're embarrassing me!" at the top of her lungs while strangers peered out their curtains to see what the commotion was. "Stop being so overprotective!" Mr. Stephenson nodded from his window with a raspy chuckle. Bonnie's parents drove off and left her there without waving goodbye.

Relieved, she walked up the grey, peeling steps to Mr. Stephenson's house and rang the doorbell. There was a broken down truck in the driveway. After what felt like an hour he came to the door in a wife beater tank top, his pale hairy belly hanging out the bottom. He had prematurely grey long hair and smelled like cigarette smoke. Bonnie smiled politely and held out her hand to shake his.

Mr. Stephenson shrugged, grunted and ushered her inside. In the house was a disgusting smell, bits of old food and dirty laundry lay all over. Dog poop piled up in the corner. Bonnie stood there for a moment, afraid to look anywhere and settling on her own feet. She waited for Mr. Stephenson to say something and he waited for her to say something. Eventually he cleared his throat.

"So this is where I keep the food and water tins," he grunted. He proceeded to show Bonnie the basic proceedings to care for his dog while he was out of town. Bonnie shifted her weight anxiously from foot to foot.

A woman in a long off white nightdress made out of sweatshirt fabric came down the stairs. Her grey hair hung down her back in a greasy tangle. She stopped when she saw Bonnie.

"Who the hell is that?" the woman inquired to Mr. Stephenson.
"I don't know," he answered with a shrug.
"What?" Bonnie chirped. "Hi, I'm Bonnie." She stuck out her hand at the woman. "I'm pet sitting next week when Mr. Stephenson is out of town and he just wanted to show me the house.
The woman neglected to shake her hand and barked at Stephenson, "You're going out of town!?"
"WE are going out of town," he answered.
"Are you Mr. Stephenson's mom?" Bonnie asked.
"Yes," she answered.
"No," he said simultaneously. "This is my girlfriend Charlotte,"
"I'm his... okay, whatever," she said.

Mr. Stephenson continued to show Bonnie around the house, now seemingly pointing out things that had nothing to do with the dog. "This is the ironing board; this is the beer bottle Charlotte pees in when I'm tying up the bathroom..." Bonnie wondered if he had forgotten why she was there.

"May I meet the dog?" she asked.
"What?" Mr. Stephenson said.
"The dog... I'd like to meet him before...."
"What dog?"
"What the hell is going on?" Charlotte yelled.
"I'm supposed to dog sit, right?" Bonnie asked.
"I thought you were going to bring your own dog."
"Is this some kind of sick joke?" Charlotte asked. "My dog died several years ago. Is this the kind of bullshit manners your parents teach you? Get the fuck out of here."

Bonnie left in a nervous flutter, cheeks burning and tears behind her eyes. She walked home and as she did so she saw a truck race past her towards her house. She thought she saw Mr. Stephenson driving it. When she got home someone had dumped piles of dog food out on her front lawn. Her parents stood on the front porch with their arms crossed, scowling and waiting.

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