July 7, 2006

The two officers strode up the sidewalk with such resolute machismo that I almost turned around and ran back inside the house. There were two of them, a strapping tall blonde one and one that was rather, well, hirsute.

"Mrs. Filthy?" the second one said. He had the pleasing aspect of an Irish setter.

"How can I help you, ossiFUR?" I squeaked out, immediately quailing at my faux pas. Why must I act guilty when I am innocent as newly driven snow? I was lucky they didn't book me then and there, mes amis.

"We've received some reports of a prowler in this neighborhood, and we wanted to know if you had seen anything suspicious." The hairy officer paused, and I wondered what shampoo he used to keep his pelt so shiny and soft. I had to shake myself to pay attention to what he was actually saying.

"I just got home from work, sir. I haven't even had time to sit," I quipped over-brightly. "Stay! I mean, lay down!" I was digging myself deeper and deeper into trouble.

My husband appeared at my elbow. "Looks like the K-9 unit is out on patrol," he muttered.

That comment, dearies, was distinctly unhelpful. So, I told the officers that my husband had indeed been home for much of the day and they should ask him. I knew that would get Filthy's goat, having to talk to the fuzz. I stayed close, though, fearing that this prowler-person was really a disoriented and distraught Karl.

"The only strange thing I've noticed all day was all the police cars," offered my beloved spouse. "What is going on around here?"

"Is the prowler dangerous?" I put in, trying for my best concerned suburban housewife voice.

"We don't believe he's dangerous, ma'am" said the blond one, with that stereotypical cop swagger." However, he seems lost, and might be a danger to himself."

"What exactly is this guy doing?" asked Filthy.

"He's wandering into people's backyards, mostly. Lying down on the grass, crying, that sort of thing. We don't believe he's stolen anything," answered the Irish setter looking cop.

"He sounds very sad," I couldn't help but whisper.

The blond cop just looked at me blankly, but the Irish setter cop seemed to understand. His thoughtful expression made me want to run out to the nearest animal shelter and adopt a puppy.

"Well, ma'am, if you happen to see anything, please call us so we can help him."

I nodded my assent, and then Filthy said, "Thanks, Officer MacGruff." I just had to elbow him in the ribs for that one.

I had a bad feeling about this, mes amis. Who else could the prowler be but our long-lost Karl? What had happened to make this normally suave executive lose his grip? I wondered if I was to blame and cringed with guilt. Then I cringed at my egotism; of course I hadn't driven him off the deep end. There must be some other explanation.

I turned to my husband. "Darling," I said, "I'm going for a little walk."

"Out to look for Herr Karl, eh?" he replied slyly. "You won't have to go too far."

"What do you mean?" I asked with my own brand of wifely menace.
"Just go out back," said Filthy. And then he whistled, actually whistled, and walked down the street towards the siren song of the Tavern.

I dashed through the house, opened the back door, and there was Karl. He didn't look like a weeping, crawling prowler, though. He had a glass of lemonade and an old New Yorker (you can pick them up for a nickel at the library) and he was absentmindedly petting our dog Scooter. Scooter is a complete petting slut, and adored the attention.

"Karl!" I exclaimed. "Are you all right?"

"I have some explaining to do," he admitted with a solemn air.

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth