Blog tour: When Harry Met Minnie

Welcome to the blog tour for When Harry Met Minnie: A true story of love and friendship by Martha Teichner. Published by Aster, below you will find an extract that will hopefully capture your full attention!

One o’clock came and went. No Carol. No Harry. No Stephen. I fussed. I petted Minnie. I looked out my front windows. I checked my cell phone. I paced. I tried to read the newspaper. Two o’clock came and went. My fussing notched up. Finally, I got a text from Carol. Stephen was late. I heard from her again. Horrific traffic on the West Side Highway. There are other routes, but normally, as long as it’s not rush hour, this expressway along the Hudson River was the quickest, twenty minutes between Carol’s place and mine, no more. At two thirty, she texted to say they were still on the West Side Highway. They were stuck. No way to exit. I began pacing and fussing all over again. Where were they? Why was I so anxious?

Finally, just before three, Carol phoned to tell me they were on my block, looking for a parking space. I grabbed my keys, rushed outside, and stood on the top step looking around. Nothing. I kept looking. Now what? Maybe five minutes later, I saw a woman a few buildings along, squeezing her way between parked cars onto the sidewalk. She was looking down. She stopped and started, tugging at something, coaxing, pleading with whatever it was in a high voice. A large black-and-white bull terrier appeared, stepping out from the flowers around one of the trees that line the street, a little garden fenced to keep dogs away. He took his time to pee and sniff as the two of them made their way slowly in my direction. Carol and Harry had arrived. I saw Stephen in the distance standing by the open tailgate of an old Land Rover staring after them.

I knew what Carol looked like from my online search, but she was much taller than I realized, six feet or very close to it, full-figured but not fat. She was wearing huge black glasses, even owlier than the ones in the pictures I’d seen, and a loose gray dress with sleeves just covering her shoulders, a thin white T-shirt underneath. I wondered whether it was one of her own designs. Something about her demanded attention, to how she looked, to what she had on. I, on the other hand, was wearing my customary black leggings and a black jacket with a bandanna at the neck. Not exactly the ideal outfit for someone with a white dog.

Carol’s gray ringlets circled her head like a cap, springy in the summer humidity. She had a long neck, and for some reason the way she carried herself—head held high, chin and jaw erect—reminded me of the famous bust of Nefertiti in Berlin’s Egyptian Museum. No one would ever have called Carol pretty. She was arresting, with her nearly nonexistent eyebrows carefully penciled in, with her very red lipstick, her long face, long nose.

Her voice was the surprise. It was high and wistful, vulnerable as she introduced herself. Such a soft, almost girlish sound coming from someone so imposing; not what I expected. When I’d heard her trying to get Harry out of the flowers, I assumed she was talking dog baby-talk to him, but I was wrong.

Harry was handsome, much taller than Minnie, lean. He had a big white splotch on his back. I can’t decide whether it looked like a boomerang or Harry Potter’s lightning scar. Maybe that’s why his name was Harry. Bull terriers are supposed to have large, egg-shaped heads. Harry’s was perfect, and he had lovely, soulful eyes, but as he reached my front stoop, I saw he was limping, favoring his right front foot. What was that about? And there was the matter of his three collars. Three. One was a serious black-leather, punk number at least two inches wide, studded with inch-square brass pyramids. Another was a necklace of linked steel prongs intended to dig into his neck whenever he tried to pull. Yikes. The third was the kind of braided cord dog handlers use in the show ring, also black. Did he belong to a gang? Was this dog dangerous? He reminded me of the front door of a New York City apartment with three hulking dead bolts to keep intruders out.

By this time, Stephen had caught up and said hello. He and Carol and Harry settled themselves on the stoop outside the brownstone where my apartment is, a brownstone being a row house faced with soft brown stone or stucco. A stoop, for anyone who doesn’t live in New York City, is the staircase leading to the front door. New Yorkers hang out on their stoops or on other people’s, eat on their stoops, people watch on their stoops. On this particular Saturday, my stoop was meant to be neutral territory; in theory, a safe place to introduce the two dogs.

Looking at Harry, I wondered whether it was safe to bring Minnie out to meet him. What had I gotten myself into? Minnie had no intention of cooperating as I hooked on her leash. When bull terriers don’t want to move, so help me, they lower their centre of gravity and make themselves heavier. Wrangling her out my front door and through the lobby was an ordeal. Minnie didn’t seem particularly eager to meet anyone. Outside, she took one look at Harry, turned around, and plopped down with her backside to his face. Very rude. I sat on the top step. Harry ignored Minnie’s slight and stuck his nose in my pocket, where the treats were. Stephen, by his own admission, talks a lot, which was good on this occasion, since none of us was too sure how to handle the meeting. Was it an interview? A social occasion? A dog date?

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