She knocked on the door with three rapid taps of her knuckles. Who needs a doorbell when the beast at the front gate serves a better purpose?
"Who is it?" a voice blurted out.
He knows full well ... okay, I'll play along. Exasperated, Oda looked down at the welcome mat, with its plastic green grass and sunflower and exhaled a soft smile at the irony. She bent forward, and threw her voice in the direction of an open window.
"It’s Oda Raines, Mr. Nelson; we spoke on the phone earlier."
As the front door squeaked open, Oda suppressed her gag reflex as a gale of air that smelled of cigarette smoke and garbage rushed up her nostrils. A short stocky man wearing a white tank top, short pants, and flip flops stood in the door way. He looked as if he had just gotten out of bed. The hairs on his face were like worn out bristles on a brush, and matched the color of his tussled dirty auburn and gray hair. A cigarette butt smoldered from the corner of his mouth.
Oh man, this is going to be disgusting, she thought.
"What'd you do to Munk?" he said.
Oda turned, and saw that the dog was panting and sitting on its hind legs. Its front legs were like two rigid posts driven deep into the ground to hold up its large head. Its muzzle that only a moment ago was contorted with rigid teeth exposed, and thrusting at her, was now agape with a limp tongue hanging, and dripping saliva.
"I just showed him that I wasn’t afraid of him," she said.
"You gotta show me how you do that. I don't ever bring him to the house because he'll maul me to death for sure."
The man then removed the cigarette butt from his mouth, and gave Oda a quick look over. "I figured you to be an older woman.
So what is this about?"
"May I come in, please?"
"By all means," he said as he stepped aside allowing Oda to enter.
"Please excuse the mess, I don’t get many visitors."
Oda stepped inside forcing herself to get accustomed to the smell. She saw what might have been last evening’s dinner plate, with a half eaten ear of corn, and a clump of rice with a cigarette butt stuck in the middle of it on the coffee table in front of the couch. A fork and steak knife rested on the floor underneath the table, along with two empty bottles of lite beer.
She looked over at the dining table next to the kitchen, and saw a plate that displayed the remnants of this morning’s breakfast in similar fashion, a clump of scrambled eggs with a cigarette butt sticking out of the middle of it. Sections of the daily newspaper were scattered on the couch, and around the coffee table.
"Please have a seat Ms. Raines."
Oda took a seat at the end of the couch, purposely sitting on a section of newspaper rather than the soiled seat cushion.
"Mind if I light up?" he said as he fondled a pack of cigarettes.
"No, go ahead." Maybe the smoke will help mask the stench in here.
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