I arrived at the party, already one in, with an entire bag of bacon treats evenly spread between the pockets of my jeans and my left sock. The aim was to be loose and irresistible.
Trevor called at 7 am this morning, desperate. His girlfriend’s aunt died two weeks ago, and they had adopted her dog. Her uncle is the executor of the will, and they had just been notified that the dog was to be euthanized and buried next to the deceased aunt. It had already been paid for. The rest of the family was outraged, but her uncle was insisting; they assumed it was to settle some long-forgotten sibling rivalry. My friends had been permitted to keep the dog for the weekend, but they had been ordered to surrender her to the participating veterinarian Monday afternoon. By 7:11 am this morning, we had a plan.
“OK, great,” said Trevor. “It’ll be just like high school. It’s like we were born to do this. It’s a bit sick, but I’m totally stoked. Do you think it’ll work?”
“Absolutely. You know me. I have a sweet face, and criminal mind. No one will ever suspect it was me. Just be sure you leave the back gate open. When the party goes left, we’ll go right. Invite as many people as you can, and tell no one – not even Fran. Her reaction has to be real or we’re done. We’ll tell her in a few weeks when the smoke clears.”
“Got it. She’ll want visitation rights.”
“You bet. Your only job is to let the dog out when I text you. Oh, and make sure the smokers stay on the patio. We’ve only got one shot, Trev. Don’t fuck up.”
Admittedly, I was a bit excited too. It was like high school shenanigans, but the stakes were higher. There was an actual life at risk, and I wasn’t really sure what the penalty would be if we got caught. I don’t expect jail time, but I definitely expect to fall in love with this dog. Trevor sent me pictures, and I had already purchased a hand-crafted leash and the Mercedes of dog beds. When four feet ask to land in your living room, on the back of this kind of caper, you don’t ask questions, you get invested.
When I arrived, the party was in full swing. I didn’t recognise a soul, which was perfect. I could be invisible, that woman who shows up without a date, and spends the entire night talking to the dog. We agreed not to introduce me to anyone, and Trevor nodded when I walked in. I waved to Fran, put my beer in the fridge, and made my way to the back door. Conversations were hopping, and the hum of the room was just about there. Not one person made eye contact with me, just parted to let me by as I made my way to the back door. I made adjustments to the plan. The time was now, and I knew it would be one clean shot. When I opened the door, there was no one on the patio except Trevor and the dog.
“Marta. Meet Virginia.”
And we were gone.