Jun 02

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In The Doghouse


Ari’s nature as a canidae causes problems at home.

Ari leaned against the kitchen counter with her arms crossed over her chest, and kept her sarcastic comments to herself as her landlord closed the door to the hallway closet. Leo Steadman was a bit taller than Ari and wore a work shirt despite the fact he looked like he’d be more comfortable in a football jersey. He rubbed his cheek as he slowly scanned the apartment. He looked like someone on a treasure hunt with a map that didn’t make sense.

“Well?” Ari finally said. “Unless you want to check my cupboards…”

Leo shrugged. “Due diligence, Ms. Willow. I’ve gotten reports from multiple tenants on numerous occasions that you’re hiding a dog in here.”

Wolf, Ari thought, but she wisely kept her mouth shut.

“You know the building’s policy on pets. We don’t even allow birds.”

“I know.”

“I don’t want to be a hard-ass here, Ms. Willow. You’re a good tenant. You might not pay on time every single month, but you’re regular with your irregular rent checks.”

Ari laughed. “I try. Look, I don’t know why people think I have a dog in here.”

Leo bent down and picked up a few strands of hair that had been pushed up against the baseboard. He held them up to the light coming through the balcony. Ari cleared her throat. “Those are mine.” He looked at her skeptically and she shrugged. “You want to do a DNA test on them? I have a condition.”

“Your hair looks fine to me.”

Ari smiled. “Thank you. I’m taking the medication. But there are… relapses.”

He muttered something non-committal under his breath and put his hands on his hips. “Okay. I don’t see any dander or messes or anything else that might suggest you’re hiding a dog in here.” He looked at her suddenly. “But you’re a private detective, right? So you’d know what I’d be looking for and know how to hide it.”

“Maybe I’m bad at my job.”

Leo sighed. “Look. Ariadne. I like you. You’re a better tenant than most of the losers I rent to. But this isn’t the only complaint I get about you, you know. People say you’re coming in all hours of the night…”

“Part of the job. That has some merit. I’ll try to be quieter when I come in at night.”

He stepped closer to her and lowered his voice. “And if you got a dog in here, like on the top shelf of the closet under some quilts, just… keep it as quiet as you did today, huh?”

Ari saluted him. “Aye, aye, captain.”

Leo looked around the apartment one more time before he walked to the door. Ari followed him. “I’ll keep the invisible dog quiet, and I’ll try to be more respectful of the neighbors when I come in late.”

“And try to be a little less irregular with your rent.”


She escorted him out of her apartment and then went back into the living room. She wished it was as easy as being more careful with her transformations but, from time to time, she changed in her sleep. She couldn’t help it if the wolf sometimes took over and wanted to take a stroll around the living room.

Ari dropped onto the couch and put her feet up on the arm, facing the balcony. She loved her little apartment. It was close enough to the office that she could walk if she wanted to, and the view was absolutely killer. She would hate to leave, but if she was eventually going to get kicked out anyway, it would be nice to land on her feet.

She took out her phone and dialed Dale’s number. On the third ring, Dale picked up. “Hey. Are you okay?”

“Fine. I’m at home, I don’t need to be picked up anywhere. I just wanted to hear a friendly voice.”

“Uh oh. That sounds ominous. Everything okay?”

Ari explained about the no-pets rule and the chance she might get evicted.

“That sucks. Why did you even get an apartment with a no-pets rule in the first place? Didn’t you see this coming?”

“Remember Glory?”

“The private investigator you trained with before opening Bitches. I never met her, but I know the name.”

Ari closed her eyes, stroking her forehead with two fingers. “When I started working for her, I had just moved out of Eva’s place. I was basically homeless, and Glory helped me find a place to stay that was within my reach. She helped me with the rent, she donated some of her own furniture… she gave me a home. I didn’t think to ask questions until it was too late. And Glory never knew I was canidae but she knew I didn’t have pets. So it would be hard to explain to her why ‘no-pets’ was a deal breaker. I guess I just hoped it would never come up.”

“Well, we’re doing okay now. You don’t have to stay in the apartment out of loyalty to Glory.”

“It’s not that. If it was that, I’d move in a heartbeat. But I love this place.” She sat up and looked around the apartment. The idea of packing up her things and leaving it behind was heartbreaking. She sighed. “I’m just calling to mourn a little, I guess. I’ll get the paper on Monday and start looking for someplace else.”

“Don’t do anything drastic before Monday, Ari. I’ll see if there’s anything I can do.”

Ari smiled. “I appreciate it, Dale, but I don’t think there’s a loophole here. But thank you.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just promise me… you won’t tell your landlord you’re moving out until at least Monday.”

“I promise.” Ari smiled. “What are you up to?”

“Never you mind what I’m up to. Bye, Ari. Talk to you soon.”

Ari hung up and shook her head. She already dreaded the idea of hunting for a new place, so her promise to Dale was another excuse to procrastinate. She was willing to wait until Monday to see whatever trick Dale had up her sleeve.



Ari was in the middle of getting together her laundry when someone knocked on the door. She was in a pair of green running shorts and a number 7 baseball jersey when she answered the door, only aware of how much skin she was showing when she saw that her guest was Mrs. Wheatley, the woman who lived directly below her apartment. She pushed her hair out of her face and tried to look as composed as a woman in her state of undress could manage.

“Mrs. Wheatley. Hi.”

“Hello, dear.” She didn’t seem to notice Ari’s near-nudity, focusing instead on the way her fingers curled around the handle of her cane. “I just wanted to say… well, I wanted to apologize for causing you any trouble. You see, I was the one who called Mr. Steadman about you having an animal up here. I could hear them moving around sometimes, and I just thought, rules are meant to be followed.” She sighed heavily. “If I’d known the truth, of course I never would have said anything. I’ve withdrawn the complaint from Mr. Steadman, so hopefully you won’t have to move out. If he tries to make trouble, I’ll make some trouble for him.”

Ari nodded slowly. “Okay. Sure.”

Mrs. Wheatley stepped forward and lowered her voice. “And if you ever want to bring one of your little friends down to my place, I could sure use the company.” She winked.

Ari’s eyes widened and she tried to keep the disgust off her face. She didn’t know what Mrs. Wheatley was talking about, but she was sure they weren’t on the same page. “Okay. Sounds, uh, sounds good.”

“Keep up the good work, sweetheart. You’re doing the Lord’s work you know.”

Mrs. Wheatley turned and shuffled away, and Ari closed the door behind her. After a moment of staring into space with her mind twisting and turning, she went to the phone and dialed Dale’s number. This time she answered a bit more promptly.


“What did you do?”

“Who’s this, please?”

Ari rolled her eyes. “Dale, what did you do?”

Dale laughed. “I went to by your building and had a little talk with your downstairs neighbor. I told her that you definitely did not have any pets, but the sounds she heard were animals.” She let the words hang for a few seconds before she took pity. “Service animals. I said we supplement our income at the agency by taking care of seeing-eye dogs between their training and when they can be placed with new owners. I assured her you rarely had a dog in your apartment for more than one night a week, if that, but they would be the source of any sounds she might hear.”


“So what did she say?”

“She withdrew the complaint. The landlord wasn’t too keen on kicking me out anyway, so… I guess I get to stay.” She smiled, surprised to find her eyes were wet. “Thank you, Dale. I’m glad your diabolical mind is on my side.”

Dale laughed. “Incentive to never, ever get on my bad side.”

“I’ll remember that.” She drummed the fingers of her free hand on her hip and narrowed her eyes. “Since you saved me the cost of a new apartment and the frustrations of dealing with Mrs. Wheatley, how about I buy you dinner tonight?”

“Really? Um, sure. I was just about to warm up a frozen dinner, but a free dinner sounds a lot better. See you in about thirty minutes?”

“Make it an hour. I have to find something to wear. And Dale… really. Thank you.”

“My pleasure, Ari. See you soon.”

Ari said goodbye and hung up the phone. She took another look around her apartment, her home, and went to see if she had any nice clothes that weren’t already in the hamper.

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