It was a hot summer in the early 80’s. Miss Elaine and Pauly lived just off Clinton Street, where Cheektowaga, Buffalo and West Seneca meet. Miss Elaine and Pauly, being soldiers of the General Mills army, worked hard but worked swing shifts. Pauly worked day shift, having a lot of seniority, but Miss Elaine toiled away while the rest of Buffalo slept- making fudge brownie mix possible for Planet Earth. Thus, at 8am Miss Elaine was relaxing and putting on her nightie for a good day’s sleep.
Pauly, the avid animal lover he was, was really taken with the idea of having a doberman. He’d pour over the classified ads for several Sundays in a row, while pouring himself another bourdon, until he was good and drunk one day and actually drove the family out in the country to purchase a doberman from a breeder in the country. Thus began an unusual ordeal.
You see, Miss Elaine was living in a duplex and her Uncle lived upstairs. He took one look at the new doberman puppy and proclaimed that the goddamn Germans were coming. That did not deter Miss Elaine from supporting her precious Pauly in his dream to have a doberman.
The one flaw in the whole idea was that neither Pauly nor Miss Elaine were known for their nurturing personalities, nor their compassion for animals. And so, in Mid-July, under stagnant city air and stiffling heat, Elaine and Pauly chained the newborn pup in the back yard to figure out his own separation anxiety. Pauly would get back with him when he was a full grown intimidating doberman pinscher.
Day One included nine full hours of barking and screeching, under the hot sun, while Pauly was at work and Miss Elaine was trying to sleep for her midnight shift. The Uncle looked down from his second floor apartment shaking his head at the arrival of the Germans into his backyard.
Day Two was pretty bad, as Pauly again chained out the puppy and left for work while Miss Elaine came home to sleep. The puppy screeched, barked, howled and cried all day long no matter what he was given, because he was alone and Miss Elaine was in the house attempting to sleep.
This became a neighborhood matter as the noise stretched several houses in circumference- and the heat already had tempers short. Miss Elaine was perplexed at what to do, sleep deprived, driven to insanity by nonstop barking and had been yelled at by almost every neighbor. People gathered on the street.
Day three and the neighborhood kids waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, Pauly chained up the puppy and left. Sure enough, Miss Elaine came home and went to bed. Within fifteen minutes that puppy started barking. Kids sat on porch railings just waiting.
Miss Elaine came out and yelled at the puppy. He stopped for 30 seconds. Miss Elaine brought him food and water. He dumped it all and began screeching. Miss Elaine was back in bed. Time passed. The screeching became more pronounced. The barking started to rattle inside people’s brains. Vibrations from hell of barking that would not stop- rattling rattling eardrums right up against brains. The mercury rose.
Click-clack, Miss Elaine’s screen door unlocked. She emerged in a mist green silky summer nighty. Her bleached blonde hair stood on end lended to the dishevelment. She sort of waddled a sleepless waddle down the driveway. The children fell silent. The puppy: silent. His tail wagged in anticipation of her approach. Even negative attention is attention.
Miss Elaine carried in her hand an item that was hard to decipher from a distance. It turned out to be a thin leather shoelace. The type that would go in a pair of topsiders or deck shoes. Was she going to murher the puppy? Was she going to strangle it. A child swallowed hard, staring at what might be the last moments of that puppy’s life.
Miss Elaine walked up to the puppy. She unfurled the shoe lace. Her hand stretched out with the leather strap extended. She took both hands and cupped the puppy’s snout, pressing it shut. He looked up at her in puzzlement. His tail still wagged but he started looking suspicious.
Miss Elaine took that shoelace and she tied it up and under and across his snout. From the face out to the end of his snout, she tied it up like a pork roast. At the very end of his snout, she tied a big bow right on top of his nose. His snout was tied shut- effectively he was silenced.
Miss Elaine stood back up and turned around. She saw the kids looking up at her and flipped her hand dismissively as if to say, “Took care of that”. She sort of swaggered in her victory down the sidewalk, out of the sunlight and back into her newly peaceful darkness.
The kids exchanged glances briefly then looked to the puppy who cocked his head right, then left. His eyes sort of crossed as he looked at that big bow at the end of his nose.
He was sort of confused at this new game. It wasn’t much fun. His playmate had left and gone in the house. He put his snout down to the ground, placed his front paw on his snout and promptly shoved the shoelace right off. He began to bark again. “Come back and play!”
The doberman was victorious!