New Dog, Old Tricks

animal dog puppy pug
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on

“Ooooh, look, a puppy!”

Larry paused obligingly to let the beautiful young girl admire his dog. “That’s Scout,” he said, “you know, like the little girl in To Kill a Mockingbird.”

He’d hit the good-guy trifecta – a puppy named after a child in a beloved book – and it had the desired effect. The girl smiled at him warmly.

“Aw, that’s so sweet. Isn’t she adorable!” She bent to pet Scout, who wriggled in delight.

Later, Larry abandoned the girl’s unconscious body in the secluded part of the park where he often took his victims. She’d wake eventually, dazed and disoriented from the drug he’d slipped into her drink. She wouldn’t remember going to a sidewalk café with him, making much of Scout who sat under the table. This one wasn’t even old enough for a beer; she’d had a Diet Coke.  She would gradually realize what had happened to her. Probably she’d be too embarrassed to report it, they usually were. Even those who did call the cops couldn’t give a good description of Larry because they’d been focused on the puppy. He’d lay low for a while, and next time there’d be a new Scout.

It was a foolproof formula and Larry had been using it for years. He’d pick up a cute puppy at the shelter and take it for walks in the park. Dog lovers always spoke to him, especially young women. When the urge got too strong to be denied, Larry would make his move.

Afterward, the puppy was an easily-identified liability so Larry’d drive into the country, open the door and push it out. Sometimes it ran after his car, but he’d accelerate and leave it behind. Then it was time to get a new Scout.

Larry didn’t think of himself as cruel. When it was time to dump the puppies, he tried to find a spot near a farm so they’d have a good home, better than the shelter. As for the girls, well, they deserved anything they got. The way women laughed and rolled their eyes when he approached them! The scorn with which they turned him down! But he got even. Oh yeah, he got even.


Honey and Sugar weren’t their real names, of course. They worked the park every night, lurking beside the paths, watching for a certain look that meant a guy was in the market for it. Then they’d step forward and offer their services. It was a tough way to make a buck, but a girl’s got to live, right? There wasn’t much that went on in the park they didn’t know about, including Larry and the succession of Scouts. They’d both rejected his advances; not that one, not even for money, they giggled to each other. They saw the young women fall for the puppy ploy and shrugged. None of their business. But the last girl touched something in their calloused hearts.

“She wasn’t no more than eighteen,” Honey said. “And that old bastard left her layin’ there like garbage.”

“She was crying so hard. I wanted to help her, but I couldn’t afford to get involved if she called the cops,” Sugar said.

“Larry needs a lesson.”

“And we’re just the girls to give it to him.”


Larry could scarcely believe his luck. Honey and Sugar were coming on to him. He immediately forgave them for their previous humiliating rejections. From the way things were going, he wouldn’t even need to use the drug. They suggested a ride in his car to a place where they could go skinny-dipping. Larry’s head buzzed with excitement as he pulled the car around and the women got in. Even if he had to pay, it would be worth it.

He followed their complicated directions and after an hour reached a gravel lane that ended in a grassy meadow. They parked at the edge of a lake – more of a pond, really – and Honey produced a flask. He drank deeply.

“C’mon, Larry, let’s have a swim.” Honey and Sugar pulled off their shirts.

Larry, goggle-eyed, stripped, too, and they waded into the dark water. Things got hazy after that. There was a lot of shrieking and splashing. Sometimes there were two girls, sometimes one. Once he thought he saw three of them, but he rubbed his eyes hard and then there were only two. After a while, he floated dreamily on his back.

When he heard the engine start up, he stumbled out of the water shouting, “Hey, you forgot me! Wait, wait!” But the car didn’t pause as it bounced over the meadow in the direction of the road. Larry ran after it, but it accelerated and left him behind. His clothes, cell phone and shoes went with it.

In the distance, he saw the golden windows of a farm house. He started toward the promise of help and shelter, but stopped short when he realized he was more likely to meet a farmer with a shotgun and a dislike of naked midnight trespassers.

There was nothing to do but walk away from the light. Somewhere nearby, he heard a dog bark.

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