The morning air is especially bitter to Ann as she leaves the restaurant. The taste of beer lingers in the back of her throat from the night before. She hadn't been able to sleep; she couldn't stop thinking about what could go wrong as a dog owner. She headed to O'Harley's, thinking the alcohol would clear her head. Instead it filled her stomach with foamy remorse for having never owned a pet as a child. Why hadn't she gotten a dog when her son still lived with her? Well, things were different. That was before they took her away from him- before they accused her of murdering her husband. Before the jury ruled that she was mentally unstable and threw her in the asylum. Thankfully she'd only been there for six months before DNA evidence proved her innocence. Her husband's mistress had killed him- sliced him to pieces when he refused to marry her.
Still, Ann had never found her son to tell him the truth, nor did she attempt to. She couldn't bring herself to dishonor Archie's father in order to exonerate herself. She remembered Archie's miserable face when he looked down on her from the witness stand. She figured it was better for her to remain a villain than for the father he admired to be diminished to a mistress-keeping sleaze. She had no plans to find her son to tell him the truth.
As the sun lingers higher into the brisk sky, Ann heads down the road to the grocery store, intending to stock up before her theoretical new dog takes up all her spare time. She blows past the medicine aisle, intending to grab a bottle of Advil for the headache that is beginning to accompany her bloated stomach. Just as her slender fingers pull the little blue bottle from the shelf, her eyes meet Archie's. Her beautiful little boy, grown into the spitting image of his father, stares straight at her, through her really. She drops her K. Roger's basket to the ground and floats, like smoke, towards the automatic doors at the front of the store. She doesn't want him to see her. Not like this. Not when she hasn't thought out what she'll say to him, how she'll explain herself and her deceased husband.
She hurries, grocery-less, across the parking lot to the corner of Blue and Main, turning the corner and continuing towards the pet store on Boulevard Boulevard. Maybe he hadn't seen her? She figures that because she hadn't said anything, he'll most likely convince himself that it in fact had not been her in the store. Maybe he'll assume she's still locked up in that asylum on Herbert Johnson. The chances of him making that mistake are about as slim as the chance that a puppy could fill the void of the family that was taken from Ann so many years ago. Nevertheless she's going to buy that damn puppy.
Roaming around the pet store, Ann grabs the necessities: food bowl, red leash and collar, and a dog bed. She checks out and makes her way back towards the front of the store where the adoption center is, smacking heads and just about everything else with a cinder block of a man just outside the door. They exchange a few words, mostly about dogs, while Ann paces back and forth beside the cages filled with longing eyes and wagging tails. He says he has to get home to feed his own dog, although he seems to have more on his mind than canines. She smiles and lets the man go, although something makes her want him to continue talking to her. His pet owner advice is comforting, and his muscly figure makes her feel safe, like he could leap to protect her if one of the mangier dogs were to get out of its cage and attack someone. She watches him walk away, and so does a little white pit bull in the cage next to her. Though she may not be the biggest fan of dogs, Ann does believe them to be a good judge of character.
"I'll take this one, please."