$10,000 REWARD for LOST DOG - Name: BOKU, Breed: SHIBA INU Sex: Male, Tail: Curls up and tip bends to the right. Size: Medium-Small (18 inches high, 28 lbs.), Color: Light tan with White Chest, Age: Born in 1996. Escaped from our Chinese friend’s house in Monterey Park, California on Sept. 5, 2002 when we were out of town. Boku’s home is in Silverlake. Boku could be carried by car to any city. Needs medication. We have distributed 20,000 flyers from door to door and to countless TV and radio stations. We are senior citizens but won’t stop searching until we see him. Please keep this flyer until 2016.
Flyer seen posted in Runyon Canyon
“$10,000 by Monday,” said Mr. Big, coolly, “or you can expect a new visit from these gentlemen.” Calling their likes ‘gentlemen’ was an oxymoron; they were a walking advertisement for Darwin’s theories. “If you have any attachment, sentimental or otherwise, to your kneecaps, I would advise you to cough up the dough. Pronto.”
With a curt nod from Mr. Big, the bodyguards hot footed it down the wooden stairs of Norman and Valeria’s shabby garage apartment. When they were gone, a pool of flop sweat remained below Norman’s sneakers. (Upon closer inspection the sweat appeared to have a yellowish tinge.) A cogent, lucid person would have grabbed a mop, but Norman and Valeria, strung out on Snapple and unnerved by Mr. Big's visit, were anything but cogent.
Their knees went wobbly, and recriminations followed:
"It all started with that Pell Grant for phony Beautician's College," Norman reproached.
"There was no way for me to know it wasn't fully accredited…"
"Well, it wasn't what your mother had in mind when she said she wanted you to finish college," Norman snapped.
"Look at you, Mr. AFI. Your graduate screen writing program really put us in a hole."
Norman put his hands to his temples in a bereaved expression so extreme as to bring Edvard Munch back from the grave to paint it
“These are dangerous people," Valeria said. "You should have thought twice before you dropped out of the screen writing program."
“Let’s take Zoe out for a walk,” Norman suggested.
"That's your answer to everything: an argument over credit cards, take Zoe for a walk, a nuclear reactor has leaked contaminants in the topsoil, take Zoe for a walk."
"Why don't we get married, Val? We argue just like married people."
Outside they went and trudged up the hill and through the rusty gates of Runyon Canyon, Zoe leading the way. As the trail became steeper under their feet, out the corner of his eye, Norman saw a paper on a bulletin board with a ‘1’ followed by a lot of zeroes, and came elastically back to flyer with the sure snap of a red ball returning on its rubber tether to the wooden paddle. Ten thousand clams for a lousy lost dog!
“If we had a shiba inu. . .” said Valeria wistfully. “We could get Mr. Big off our back.”
“But we do have a shih tzu.” .
"Shiba inu and shih tzu are almost spelled the same."
“Yes, but she doesn’t look anything like the shiba inu.”
“A lot of time has gone by since 2002,” said Norman. “A lot can happen in five years. So the dog got smaller, it changed into a different breed.”
“Wait, wait,” said Valeria.
She remembered a hairdresser who owed her some favors. She had helped give him a cheat sheet in beautician school. He’d aced the pedicure exam, thanks to her.
“Rodrigo owes me.”
They went to the salon on Las Palmas, near Sunset, and asked for a favor from Rodrigo.
“Can you do a big dye job?” Valeria asked after they hugged effusively, and she got pricked by his multiple body piercings. “It’s top secret, very on the QT.”
“How big?” he replied, sweeping up hair from the floor at day’s end.
Just then Norman came into the shop with Zoe on a leash. The shih tzu barked ruff ruff. Rodrigo took one look at the canine and rolled his eyes. His eyes rolled right back into his skull and his head hit the base of a salon chair as he came down in a dead faint, hitting the floor with a thud.
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