Part 12

The dog has been having a visitor. Mrs. Jordan, who goes to the Jehovah’s Witness Hall around back and who supports Thelma Harper for state senate and who has some pamphlets on breast-feeding she just had to share, has been coming over in the afternoons, knocking on the front door, and waiting for Rufus to let her in. She’s our across-the-street neighbor’s grandmother.

She makes herself a cup of tea—which is how we first discovered we were having a visitor: tea was missing—and sits at the end of the couch, her enormous purse resting on her lap. At some point, after she’s gone through her whole spiel, whatever it’s about on that particular day, Rufus leaps up on the couch next to her, puts his paw on her arm and she places her hand over his paw. She then proceeds to cry.

After a few minutes, the dog will press his head against her head and she’ll pet his neck until she’s soothed.

We don’t know what she cries about. We only know it’s her who’s been drinking our tea because Bart set up a camera to see what was happening here during the day.

“You want me to try to get some sound on this?” Bart asked me, as we watched the video together. “I know some guys who could mic the couch.”

But even watching her feels like an invasion of her privacy, even though she’s sitting in our house, with our dog, as of yet having never met us.

She gets something from Rufus that just feels like it would be cruel to take away from her.

And it’s hard not to imagine ourselves in similar circumstances—in need of kindness and with few options for where to get it.

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