HOW TO BOIL A DOG
Frieda and Walt were young honeymooners looking for a place to live and Levittown, Pa. “tract houses” built by the thousands, 1,733 to be exact, were up for grabs. Bill Levitt had a brilliant idea he would build the houses quickly and cramped together. His intention was not to sell to “blacks” so whites would prominently inhabit them. It was the nineteen fifties. Frieda and Walt liked the proximity of the other houses close together; plenty of neighbors to chit chat to and borrow a saw or a lawn mower when the occasion arrived.
They fell in love with the “Cape Cod” style house on Division Avenue. They hugged each other in front of the friendly realtor and put down $100 on the 17,440 home, with its two bedrooms, a washer under the stairs, and sunny windows. Walt thought the aluminum siding was the best thing ever; he’d never have to paint the house, and the tiny lawn would need little upkeep. They were thrilled as they stood with the realtor on the short driveway. “When can we move in?” Inquired Walt. His wife was walking around the house, watching the neighbors watch them. On her third time around, panting a little she stopped and asked the realtor for the key. They stepped inside the little foyer, viewed the living room and kitchen, and then climbed the narrow stairs to the two bedrooms. “This is perfect don’t you think Walt?” “What ever you decide “little wifey” as he was prone to call her. It was his way of showing his love for her.
“Good luck” said the realtor and shook their hands rapidly. He had eight more houses to show and badly needed a cup of coffee and a Dingdong.
That was then, and Frieda and Walt had been married now for forty years and knew all the neighbors. Their two grown sons lived on Oak Tree Lane with their wives and children. It was so very cozy. Frieda had just retired from The Avalon Diner, and was filling her empty hours decorating and doing crafts. She put up her waitress legs and rested them while she watched cable. It felt good to be finally off her feet. Walt, also retired from a foreman’s job at The Uniform Factory spent his days at auctions, and at his watering hole “Randy’s Road House.”
Frieda was up early scrambling eggs and bacon and toast. It was Walt’s favorite breakfast Frieda noticed Walt had put more jiggle on his stomach, and had been encouraging him to cut out some of the grease. “I just can’t give up breakfast.” He pleaded. “Give me less dinner, I’ll try my best.” He pecked her on the cheek and pinched her butt. He had learned pinching from the “Travel Channel.” Where he learned those Italians pinched women’s butts on a regular basses. She giggled and pushed him out of the door. “Enjoy the auction Walt.” She watched him drive off in his Gremlin, smoke coming out of his pipe through the window.
She saw Mrs. Burstein come out of her house, which was the same as hers. She had a big bag of birdseed, and was tilting it into her bird feeder. A squirrel was watching, smiling to it’s little gray self, waiting for her to go in. Then he climbed up the pole and tipped the seeds on the grass and ate them in his tiny hands. Frieda was chilly by the window and gathered her pink chenille robe around her tiny middle. Her breath fogged up the window.
Her sons Barry and Mike lived on a nearby street with their wives. Jill who was Barry’s wife was a secretary to the mayor. She was proud of her position and the mayor was proud of her. Barry sold old used cars, mostly Chryslers and Fords, things were brisk at the car dealership, but he made a meager wage and was jealous of his wife’s status. He worked long hours with people he disliked and wouldn’t in a million years have them over for his famous barbeques. His wife Jill encouraged her husband to go to night school and learn a trade. She was worried about him. They had some savings and Barry intended to take her somewhere special for their twentieth anniversary. He was beside himself with the surprise. Barry had trouble keeping a secret, but he kept his trap shut. He wondered if Jill had heard him talk in his sleep. He had been dreaming about “the trip” romancing her, making love in a big old hotel. He called his brother Mike at the Five and Dime. He was the manager. “Mike it’s Barry I have a secret, a good one, I need to share it with you, it’s about our anniversary.” Mike listened intently while pressing his phone into his ear, making it sore and possibly red. “I have to get off the phone Barry I have a dozen customers in line.” He lied. He was jealous of Barry and Jill, they seemed so together, always holding hands and smooching with wet lips on their old plaid couch. It sometimes made him nauseous, because he didn’t have what they had, romance and seemingly a lot of sex. “I’ll talk to you later okay?” Mike was a together kind of guy. Handsome as Michael Angelo’s “David,” flirted with the women customers He had even had clandestine affairs at the “Hot Stop Motel.” His wife Betty seemed not to notice, but she did.
She did know especially when he came home late sweating and red in the face. “Where were you, I rang the store and they said you left hours ago?” “I had to stock the inventory and it’s boring and time consuming.” He held her tight and she smelled the newly applied “Old Spice” She backed off with an angry look on her tight lipped face. “I know you’ve been cheating on me, admit it Mike.” “What’s for dinner?” He asked. “Answer me Mike, right now!” “I have never cheated on you.” “Sure you haven’t.” She yelled. “We haven’t had sex in over a month, why is that Mike?” He sat at the kitchen table knowing full well she saw the ruddiness in his cheeks. “Again dearest one, what’s for dinner?” “Glazed ham, red potatoes and tapioca. After dinner he led her up the small staircase to the bedroom. He turned her on, and he had sex for the second time in the same day. Lying back satisfied Betty said, “I believe you Mike, you could never have sex twice in one day. She nuzzled up to him, and they fell asleep.
Frieda went into her kitchen to make more coffee, when her scrawny little chiwawa Scrappy rushed yapping into the kitchen. Frieda hated the tiny dog. Walt had bought it for her last birthday, thinking all women liked little dogs. Not Frieda, she despised it, but couldn’t find it in her heart to tell Walt. She couldn’t stand it’s yapping and running around. She took her coffee over to the Formica table when Scrappy the nasty piece of shit wove around her legs. She wobbled, spilling her coffee over the original orange linoleum. She took out the mop and wiped up the spilled coffee. The dog got excited and lapped up the spillage, making Frieda wobble and fall again.. “God Damn it!” She yelled at Scrappy. “I hate you, you little pest. She tried to get up but kept slipping on the floor she had just waxed to it’s shiniest. She lay splayed unable to move. She despised the little dog.
Walt with Aluminum tied to his car strode over to “Randy’s Road House.” He needed “refreshments” His mouth was dusty and his thinning hair was greasy. The auction was in a muddy field and the pick-up trucks flung the dry dirt around. He had been on his feet all day buying up all the Aluminum he could tie to his car. It would bring a good price from a builder. He entered the dark bar with its flickering “Bud” sign. His buddies were there with a space in the middle waiting for him. He plonked himself down between Arthur and Jack, his buddies from way back. Arthur had served in Vietnam alongside Walt and they had a million stories to tell between them, while the other patrons listened fervently. Jack a former Linebacker for The Philadelphia Eagles talked “sports” and would often get into heated arguments about the game. They talked guy talk, hauling junk, sports, and women, not their wives. There were a couple of “lookers” as they called them. They were on their forth beer and had downed shots of whiskey. Joking around making fun of their possessive wives, and rightly so, everything was up for grabs in a bar like that. Walt had never cheated on his wife but had had plenty of opportunity. Busty Pam seated her ample butt down next to them. Her boobs swelled over the polished oak bar. “Hi fellas.” She said. “Wanna dance?” “Yes” they all said. So Busty Pam eased herself off the barstool. “Come on guys let’s do it.” They took it as an invite to sex, but no, Busty Pam led all three guys to the center of the bar. Walt was pulled by his sweatshirt, Arthur was led by his tie, he always wore a tie, no matter how ugly. Jack was grabbed by her free hand, and her long pink nails. The Jukebox was playing George Jones. They danced in a wobbly circle, despite the heehaws of the other drinkers. Busty Betty was liking being a tease, and they liked her “amorousness.” “Hey Fellas, want to go round back? I could make you real happy, real happy!” They reluctantly declined, but it was awful nice of her, even though she wanted some dough for her efforts. Her boobs rubbed up and down the horny guys, making them want to rush back home to their innocent wives. Perhaps get a “Porking” in where hopefully their wives were waiting home in bed, a good old “in and out.” They said their goodbyes. Jack grabbed Busty Pam’s breast. Then they left saying their goodbyes.
Walt was anxious to get home to dinner. He wondered what culinary plate Frieda would serve him. She would put down two placemats shiny cutlery, and two napkins. His stomach rumbled like an old tractor. Then he would “Do” her.
Frieda lay on the floor unable to get up, it was by then noon and she cursed the nasty little dog, it kept yapping around her barking, it’s high pitch trill antagonized her eardrums. Frieda tried and tried to get up, but she couldn’t. The dog in his yappy state lifted its leg and peed on her face. “I am going to fucking kill you yap dog.” Pain shot through her left leg making her unable to get up, let alone move. “If I had my cell phone I could call for help, I have to pee real bad. Maybe I’ll pee on you!” The agitated dog tore at Frieda’s polyester pants and ripped a hole exposing her thigh. “You are a real fuck, Scrappy. Wait till I get up, Bozo Dog!” “When did Walt say he was coming home? After the bar, of course—what else!” She was getting mad at Walt even though he had no part of her stuck on the floor. The dog circled her and ran across her stomach a few times. “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE.” She yelled. She looked at the kitchen clock, it was one of those fifties clocks that was metal, looking like a starburst.
It was three o’clock. What was she going to do? She yelled out to Mrs. Bernstein hoping she was still over by the bird feeder identifying the birds with her “All American Birds.” book. She imagined. The crazy old coot! Someone was knocking at the door. Frieda took a deep breath and screamed at the top of her soft-spoken voice. There was another knock. “Please, please someone hear me.” She pleaded.
Her son Barry worried if his mom was all right. She always answered the door. She was supposed to be watching her favorite Soap Opera. He reached above the door and got the spare key. He opened the door and went in. “Mom are you here?” “Barry I am so glad you came, I am in the kitchen. “Mom I have the brochures on Paris, I bought the tickets yesterday. Jill doesn’t know yet. Mom, are you okay? What are you doing in the kitchen? You always come to the door.” “Barry I am stuck on the floor, that damn dog tripped me up.” Barry rushed into the kitchen and saw his mother in such a state, spread out on the floor. Her legs going this way and that. “Mom are you hurt?’ Barry looked at her with great concern. He grabbed her under the arms and pulled her up. ‘What’s that smell, it’s God damn awful?” “The dog peed on my face, Barry. Can you believe that? I am going to put him to sleep come tomorrow, believe me, I will. I hate the bloody thing.” “Calm down Mom,” he said. Are you hurt?” “Just my hip, I think it’s bruised, not broken.” He looked at her with concern in his eyes. “Mom you could have broken something.” Barry stroked her hair, it was all mussed up, and her lipstick was smeared across her face. “Barry go home now, please. I have a meal to prepare before your dad comes home. I am making something experimental tonight, just for Walt. You and Jill should come for dinner tomorrow and tell us all about your trip. Jill will be thrilled. Tell your brother to come over too. We’ll make a celebration out of it. I will make you guys’ favorite roast , mashed potatoes, gravy and canned peas. Thanks, Barry for helping me up, I was so scared.” He held her tightly and whispered “sorry” in her ear. “Is tomorrow at seven good for you? Call Mike, don’t forget we’ll give you a proper send-off. Lucky you going to Paris and all. Now go call your brother about tomorrow. I have cooking to do.” Barry left, concerned about his mother.
The following day Frieda put on her flowery apron, ready for business. She took out her biggest pot and cut up chunks of carrots, turnips, and potatoes. Then she opened cans of beef stock and added a bay leaf. Grabbing Scrappy by his neck she carried him like that to the sink. He was wriggling like a live chicken. With the greatest of pleasure and with a grin on her face, she wrung the dog’s neck till its eyes popped out, more than they already did and rolled into the sink. He tried to bite her as his last nasty stance. His blood squirted out. But she had gotten the better of him: he was dead. She skinned it with her Ginzu knife; the fur and skin peeled away with little effort. It clunked down the garbage disposal, making a sucking noise. She gutted Scrappy. His intestines fell out like sticky tubes. Then she took the shit out of the dog’s rectum, holding her nose. Frieda stuffed him into the pan and pushed him down with her wooden spoon. She boiled him for forty-five minutes until he was fork tender, and then added the vegetables. She put the lid on tight and went to see the last part of her soap opera. Walt would back for dinner soon, smelling of beer. She rubbed her sore hip and smiled wickedly. She set the table, putting out steak knives, in case. Placed flowers and bottles of wine in the center, and folded the pink napkins into swans. The pungency of the cooked dog filled the house to a degree of nausea.
Frieda smoothed her hair and smiled, This would be the best supper ever.