I needed help, and I needed it from someone who knew their way around both dogs and grand larceny. There was only one person I knew who fit that description – Carolyn Emblehoff. She was a lawyer, which covered both ends of the larceny problem, and she loved dogs. All kinds, but especially big ones with sharp teeth. She and I had been, well, close for a while, if you know what I mean, and there was a time when I really thought she was The One. She’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, and she’s a healthy devil in the sack.

Unfortunately, she’s also a devil out of it. She has a lamentable fondness for one of the most juvenile forms of humor in the known universe, a form I despise with every fiber of my being – practical jokes. I would almost have put up with it (I mean, this is a picture of her I took at the beach that summer –

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– so you can see what I was up against) if it hadn’t been for the Great Dane Hustle.

We had broken up over a practical joke that also happened to involve a dog, an enormous Great Dane that she had installed in my apartment without bothering to tell me that it had acute indigestion and had to be fed Maalox at every meal or it would vomit on the sofa (it preferred sofas for vomiting purposes, don’t ask me why). She waited a week before informing me of both the condition and its cure, meanwhile deriving many a hearty guffaw at my expense.

I hadn’t even wanted the damn dog. As a rule-of-thumb, I generally don’t care for pets who are bigger than I am, especially if they’re bigger than I am when they’re sitting down and I’m not. It was her idea and, like the premium chump I always am when I’m around her, I wanted to impress her. I impressed her, alright. One day she sniffed my suit and asked me if I’d been sick, poor dear?

“No,” I grumped, “the dog has been sick. Again. It is sick every night.”

She arched an eyebrow and glared. “And just what have you been doing to that sweet, helpless little thing?”

Sweet? Helpless? Little? It was none of the three. “Me?! Nothing. I fed it. I understand that’s required in these sorts of circumstances.”

She arched the other eyebrow, to break the monotony, I suppose. “It never was sick when I had it. What did you do to it, you fiend?”

“N-Nothing, I swear.” I found that, rather abruptly, I was frozen to the spot despite a deep and ardent desire to run after the nearest moving vehicle waving my arms and screaming “Take me with you!”. At the same time, I had suddenly developed an inability to swallow. Anything, even my own spit.

After a terrifying moment of panic, I realized that what I was experiencing was what an opposition witness must experience when Carolyn was cross-examining them on the witness stand. She had the uncanny knack of convincing you with no more than the glint in her eye and the certainty in her bark – er, voice – that you were unspeakably evil not to mention utterly depraved, that you were hiding a dark, dank, and probably deeply perverted secret that even the Marquis De Sade would be ashamed to lay claim to, and that no such secret could ever remain secret once Carolyn Emblehoff, The Supreme Light of Justice and Stomper of Scum Like You, got wind of it. And she just had.

Her ability in this way was positively occult. In ten more seconds I would have confessed that, yes, I had kidnapped the Lindberg baby and started the Civil War while on vacation from instructing Vlad the Impaler in the finer points of torture, village-burning, mass murder, and general mayhem. It was at that moment that I suddenly saw, as if through a glass darkly – very darkly – exactly what married life with Carolyn would look like, and my soul shriveled to a husk of its former robust self.

When, a few days later in a fit of giggling, she told me about the GD, I stiffened my spine and ended it, blaming the dog incident (which was, after all, as raw as a 10-sec egg). But it wasn’t the dog, it was the thought of being on that witness stand every day for the rest of my life. I couldn’t take it. My spine would have melted like wax on the way out of the church.

Carolyn in full battle array was something no mere human could ever hope to withstand, not even one with the courage of a lion and the heart of a panther such as myself. This was a tyrannosaurus who ate lions and panthers for breakfast and then cast around for a wild boar or two for dessert the way you or I might hunt down a couple of sticky buns.

Lucky for me, Carolyn had taken the break-up gracefully. She laughed immoderately for only a quarter hour, and then called me a feckless twit, a dumb-ass geek, and a dork. I expected much worse and considered that I had got off lightly. A few weeks later when we bumped into each other by accident, she couldn’t remember my name until I reminded her. But that’s Carolyn – she lives in the moment.

We had lunch together and since then have become friends – distant friends. Or perhaps I should say that as a friend I keep her at a careful distance. Arm’s length usually works. There had been only one bad incident when I had succumbed to her charms and ended our time together by helping her steal a policeman’s badge because her best friend Audrey had said she wouldn’t. She got the credit but Audrey was right. Carolyn didn’t do it. I did. The way I worked it out, Carolyn owed me – and I intended to collect.

Braithwaite’s Theorem: A badge in the hand is worth a trophy on the hoof. Two trophies, goddamn it. I almost went to jail.

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