|A younger Emmy, Pootie (left) and Bingo|
I sat. No one ordered my mother around, not even her 6-foot-1-inch son, but she sat. My father and sister sat.
My brother opened the screen door. Behind him slunk a big skinny dog, belly touching the floor, eyes darting wildly about.
"Keith!" shrieked my mother.
"Oh my God," said my father.
"Sit still. He's nervous around people," said my brother.
"You didn't," said Mother.
My brother grinned. He held the dog's leash firmly. That dog wanted out of our house in the worst way.
"Can I pet it?" I asked.
"It's 'May I?' and no you may not," said my mother. "It's filthy. Keith, you can not keep that thing. There is no way I'm going to have that dog in my house."
"I can't believe you, Keith," laughed my sister. "It'll eat Pootie alive."
I caught my father's eye and we both smiled. That wouldn't be such a bad thing.
"Down," murmured my brother. Slowly, the dog placed each of its four limbs stiffly on the floor. I could feel the tension in its neck.
"What's her name?" I asked.
"Bingo, and it's a he. See, he's calming down. Nothing to worry about."
"Look at him! He probably has fleas. Get him off my carpet, I just vacuumed."
"He's been hanging around the radio station for a week. We mentioned him a couple of times on air but nobody called. We've been feeding him. He can eat six cans of food a day." My brother chuckled.
"Six cans!" said my sister. "He's going to be as big as a horse."
"Is he hungry now? I'll get him something to eat." I jumped up from my chair. The dog lunged. All I saw was snapping, white teeth. Luckily, my brother had a firm hold on the leash.
"I told you to sit still. He's not mean, just scared. Give him time."
"Bingo. What kind of a name is that? 'And Bingo was his name-o,'" my sister sang off key.
"Keith, this is the last time you pull a stunt like this. I'll tell you this, he gets two cans a day and no more. And you keep him away from Pootie."
In. The dog was in!
I smiled. Sitting very still, I looked into the almond-brown eyes of the scared, lonely dog that would become my best friend.