“Shawn, did you dump Chess somewhere?
“’Course not. Shut up.” He kept his eyes on his phone, his thumbs in a frenzy.
“You dump off every dog I get. Emery gave me that one, said she’d be quiet and not dig anywhere. So why’d you dump her?”
“Shut up. You think I dumped you stupid mutts somewhere, go look for ‘em.”
“You know I have a phobia about going outside in the open. You are so cruel to me. Are you really my brother or did they find you crawling around in a pile of pig shit?”
“You want cruel, how about I tie you to the clothes pole out there and whistle for the birds to peck your eyes out?”
“You did that when I was nine. I was in the hospital for a week. Hilarious, right?”
He put the phone down to let the thing charge a while. “I got the tar beat out of me, all because you keep playing that scaredy-cat ‘I cain’t go outside pity me’ thing. He checked his phone, 30% charged. “I still have the bite marks from the time you sic’d that poodle-mutant mutt on me.” He hiked up his jeans leg and pointed at the faint scars.
“You rolled me in a blanket and left me at the post office.”
“The mailman brought you back in the blanket, that was a hoot and a half!” He grinned until the memory kicked in. “You made that mutant mutt bite me and I got beat for that too, while I was bleedin’ all over the floor. Meanwhile Mom made over you like you was gold, the witch. I still got strap marks.”
“Don’t talk about Mom that way.”
“She chased Dad away and shot herself. You’re weak just like her.” He retrieved his phone and scooted over so the cord would reach.
“I do take after her.” She pointed a Ruger .38 at him. “Only I’m not gonna shoot myself.”
He glanced up. “It ain’t loaded.”
“I have a phobia. I am not stupid. It is loaded.” She clicked the safety off.
As he stared into the barrel, she heard a flurry of paw scratches on the front door. She lowered the pistol and pushed the safety back on.
She peeped through the curtain and focused on the dog. “Chess!” She put her back to the curtained door and closed her eyes. She let in three dogs.
Shawn stood a dozen feet away, frowning. “Where’d they come from?”
“Chess brought Minkie and Growlzilla back!” Petting the shaggy Schnauzer Chess, she cooed, “Clever doggie, oh yes, you kept me out of prison, didn’t you?” She smiled at her brother. “If they stay, the bullets stay right where they are.” Minkie, the very muddy Pomeranian-Dachshund mix, whined for some lovin’.
Growlzilla, the Chow mix, advanced on Shawn with a tightly curled tail and hackles rising.