“—doing in here?”
I blinked at the woman across from me. She was not pleased, not even a teeny tiny bit. Her hair, which was once probably a lovely brunette pageboy, now looked as though the woman had been combing it with a wire whisk. Her face was red and shiny. Her clothes were a mess—a run in her pantyhose, her blouse un-tucked, one shoe missing—and she was standing ankle-deep in a drift of snow. Her brown eyes were really, really starey.
“I didn’t miss Christmas, right?” I asked. This wasn’t an idle question. The last thing I remembered was December, but hardly any snow—it had been a weirdly green winter.
“Didn’t you hear me?” the woman croaked. Her voice was hoarse, either because she was ill or she’d been screaming. Probably at me, poor thing. “The cops are on the way! This is...it’s...it’s destruction of property!”
Well, that certainly sounded bad. I nodded encouragement (“yes, my, sounds terrible”) but it didn’t calm her down, not even a little.
I tried to figure out where I was. There were no newspapers around, so I had no idea what city I was in or what the date was. No TVs running with a CNN stream. Windows, sure, but too high for me to see billboards or the Golden Arches or any sort of landmark. (Mmmmm. Arches! Suddenly I wanted a Filet O’ Fish, or five.) Nothing indicating the name of the building the poor thing and I were in. Just barking.
Lots of barking from, I would deduce (being a trained investigator for the FBI, I could do that; I could deduce all over the place) lots of dogs.
I looked down and observed that the “snow” I was standing in was actually mounds and mounds of poodle fur.
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say for yourself?”
“Um...oh, crumbs?” (Profanity was for the unimaginative.) “And...I’m sorry?” An apology seemed like the right move. When I woke up in a strange place with enraged strangers who were wearing only one shoe while standing in poodle fluff, it was almost always the right move.
“And there they are!” she shrilled, pointing with a flourish at the approach of two police officers. “You boys! You come over here and...and get her.”
“Get me?” I asked, appalled. “But you don’t even know me.”
“Don’t say that like we haven’t spent ten horrible minutes together.”
Well. We hadn’t. She and I, is what I meant. She had spent time with my body, but not with me. Don’t worry: it’s not as depraved as it sounds.
“She committed felony assault on all my show poodles!”
Scratch that. It was at least as depraved as it sounds.
“Ohhhhh, that sounds bad,” I said as the officers hurried up. They were St. Paul police, I noted as I nodded politely and tried to look the opposite of dangerous. Both cops were big and blonde and puffy, one with blue eyes and one with brown.
“You called in the assault, ma’am?” Blue Eyes asked.
“I think, yes, officers,” I said, well into helpful mode.
“You shut up! I did,” she agreed, blowing a hank of hair off her forehead with a gusty, egg-scented puff. “She committed assault all over everything and I’ll lose now and months—months! Down the drain! We've been working toward this dog show for months!”
“You should probably arrest me,” I agreed. I went to set down my milkshake, then realized my hands were empty. No wonder I was thirsty. “I’ll come along quietly.”
And I did.