Dudley worked quickly and quietly that evening. He had thought of everything. There was no need to question or even think about anything any longer ….. he had made up his mind. This was a time for action.

He had spent most of the past month convincing Maggie that what they were about to do was the only way out for both of them. She resisted at first, but gradually Dudley had won her over. He was a smooth talker and both of them had a bit of the romantic in them.

Maggie was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. All Dudley had to do was protest his love for her and share his dog food, and she became open to his suggestions. Food was the catalyst, and food to Maggie meant love. She had long since given up trying to watch her weight and was always ready to eat a little more.

Maggie could still move with the same flare she had shown in her youth and a sliver of the rock hard and brittle beauty she had once possessed remained. But her “good days” were gone. She was a great deal older than Dudley and lately she had really let herself go. No one knew for sure, but Maggie was probably on the other side of 80 pounds.

And aside from all that, Maggie was from what people once called “the wrong side of the tracks”. Though she supposedly had a pedigree (which no one had ever seen), and Dudley clearly did not, she was far beneath him socially.

Now her breath often reeked, her bark had lost its vigor, and the hair on her back could best be described as course and unruly. Worst of all she passed gas at the drop of a hat.

I too had my problems with Maggie. Sometimes when she left a room I would find things missing. They were small things to be sure, but still, it was a sign that good manners and good breeding had eluded Maggie.

Perhaps it was a bit of all of these unpleasant traits, or it was something else…….something indefinable that caused him to break. But Dudley had had enough.

Though he tried hard not to show his true feelings, and continued to boyishly bite at her tail on their walks in the park, (a practice he had started when they first met), deep in the recesses of his soul, it was contempt that he felt, contempt as wide as the river he could see from the park.

Besides now he was sure ……. it was Angel he truly loved.

Before that fateful night Dudley and I had enjoyed watching crime shows on TV together. As different as we were we had always enjoyed each other’s company. Many evenings we would sit on the couch together, waiting for our shows to come on, while munching on popcorn and dog biscuits.

We particularly liked “Dexter”, and had seen nearly every episode. It is the ongoing fictional saga of a very nice serial killer. Murderers really should be nice and I was hoping to impress on Dudley just how important good manners are.

Recently, however, we had come to favor the true crime dramas, There are any number of them like “Notorious”, “Killer Kids” and “48 Hours”.

It is refreshing to see real criminals involved in solid criminal behavior. So often people who aspire to things fail to utilize their skills once they go out into the real world.

How many accountants started life hoping to write novels, or even just talk about “Moby Dick” to loved-ones in their spare time?

Many would spend huge sums of money chasing a degree in English Literature, only to find that once out of college, the local English Lit factory was no longer hiring.

Not only that, but as soon as they mentioned a great white whale, their loved-ones made it clear that they would have none of it.

These unfortunate people were then forced into re-educating themselves, and they have spent the rest of their lives pursuing dull careers, where adding long columns of numbers is the highlight of their day.

Not so with criminals. Once they set out to accomplish something, they do it. And rarely does a criminal stray from their path. The criminal life is theirs to pursue for as long as they want.

As far as Dudley and I are concerned, criminals are the last of the truly self-reliant American proletariat.

They also provide good entertainment value, especially on non-commercial TV.

It never occurred to me that Dudley would be dangerously influenced by these crime shows, and that he would one day decide to pursue a life of crime himself.

to be continued