This evening I came home from soccer and found my Polish landlady sitting on the stoop, wearing a black dress.
‘Is everything okay? I said.
Fine, she said, Fine [having come to the US as an adult, my landlady still has that awkwardness in her second language that makes it easier to repeat simple words than make sentences].
Did somebody die? I said.
Not exactly, she said, It was one year ago today that my dog died.
I remembered her little dog, Nunik, and his terrible fate. Nunik was one of those annoying, snarling rat dogs that women find so attractive (Nunik was a Chihuahua, but there are similar breeds). Nunik was old, stank, and had lost most of his teeth, a blessing, as he bit every stranger he could. Krystyna took him with her everywhere. Carried him. Adored him.
One day she was sitting on her stoop on Bedford when the phone rang and she went to get it, leaving Nunik there. Although she was only gone for five minutes, some do-gooder woman strolling bye decided Nunik was abandoned, and wanting to help, brought him to the pound.
Krystyna searched frantically for her dog, for days, but bye the time she tracked him to the pound, he had already been put to sleep. She was devastated for weeks.
‘I’ll say a prayer for Nunik tonight,’ I said as I went inside.