At first sight, it wanted to kill me.
A moment later, the feeling was mutual.
All I wanted to know is why it was tethered to the railing outside my condo – then I spotted my old buddy Stan.
“Could you take care of Chester?” he asked.
I hadn’t seen or heard from Stan in months. Now here he was on my doorstep asking for a favor. But that was Stan.
“It’s just for an hour,” he assured me, “I have to take a bus downtown to straighten a few things out and Chester is banned from riding the MTC.”
I told Stan no, but my refusal caught him halfway to the street, leaving Chester leashed to my rail.
He called an hour later from the county lock-up. “I didn’t make bail,” he told me.
“So what does that mean?” I asked.
“Six months,” he said.
“What am I going to do with Chester in the meantime? He hates me.”
“Don’t take it personally,” Stan said, “Chester hates everybody and everything. He has socialization issues. He hates other dogs. He hates his shadow. He even hates his tail: he will bark at it for days.”
“Is there anything he likes?” I asked.
“He loves the Home Shopping Network,” Stan said, “it’s why I brought him to your place. You have cable.”
It made a certain kind of Stan-sense.
Sure enough, after hanging up on Stan, I wrangled the mutt into my condo, set the cable box to HSN and Wow! The little guy scampered up onto my lap, curled into ball and dozed off watching the nice lady sell jewelry.
Over the next few weeks we managed to work some things out. Chester likes HSN whereas I prefer PBS. So we compromised by watching Masterpiece Theater together.
It turns out that Chester loves Downton Abbey but he hates Bates. Whenever the star-crossed Bates appears on-screen, Chester rips large chunks out of my coffee table, so I ordered the DVD boxed set and edited out the scenes with Bates.
This went on for three months until I learned that Stan had been out of the workhouse on early release for two of those months. I tracked him down.
“Come and get your dog,” I told him.
“I heard you two were getting along,” he said.
“It’s your dog, not mine.”
“People don’t choose dogs,” he said, “dogs choose people.”
“Where are you living, Stan?”
“With Darcy, she took me back in,” Stan said, “I’m blessed.”
“And she hates Chester.”
“Bingo!” he said.
So I packed up Chester’s food, his bed, his Dowton Abbey DVD’s and headed out the door for Darcy’s house. At the door, Chester attacked me. He had done it before – but not like that. He went at me with a rage far beyond his normal psychotic self. He knew the score. Darcy does not have cable.
He would have killed me had not my neighbor Helen opened her door.
“Call 911!” I yelled.
At that very instant, Chester froze in mid-flight and cocked his little head toward the murmur of the Home Shopping Network wafting out of Helen’s apartment. He landed gently on his paws and scampered into her living room.
“People like you shouldn’t own dogs,” Helen said, slamming her door.
I can’t say it was the last I saw of Chester.
Until I moved to Almost Iowa, I passed by Helen’s every day and there he was, bouncing off her window in a psychotic rage – but he had found a kindred spirit. Helen hates everybody and everything as much as Chester; the only thing she likes is the Home Shopping Network.