As the eyes of the swooning hairdresser fluttered back open, Norman shoved the missing dog flyer in his face. Below "$10,000 REWARD" in bold letters appeared a fuzzy snapshot of a hound with white and tan patches, and demented red eyes.
"Rodrigo, it has to look just like that," Norman said. "Can you do it for us?"
"Sorry," he groaned, "I cut class the day they taught us how to make red contact lenses. Why are you doing this, if I may ask?"
"You know how they have casting agents for children?" Valeria said. "Our neighbor is a pet agent. He got my dog a part in a movie as Lassie's double."
"You can't fool me," Rodrigo said, wagging a finger. "I know what you're up to. Yeah. I see you two lovebirds, you want to collect the reward for the missing dog and get married. The money's been holding you back."
Norman glanced nervously, Valeria tittered, and Rodrigo started combing out Zoe's stringy fur.
Dyeing a four-legged animal was to an ordinary dye job what piloting a 747 is to traveling in one. Rodrigo sweated bullets as the skittish dog kept shaking the peroxide off its neck fur. It spattered onto Rodrigo’s designer jeans, outré silk shirt and stung his skin. He squealed at each harsh drop. Finally, utterly defeated, Rodrigo sat on the floor and hyperventilated as Zoe ran circles around the salon.
"Let's nail her to the floor," Norman suggested.
Rodrigo, a devoted animal lover, protested fiercely.
"How would you like it if you had your feet nailed to the floor? It's cruel, inhuman, degrading…"
“O.K., let's try super glue,” Norman suggested. “I have some right here.”
Norman was a guy who always carried around a backpack with everything you need: an Allen wrench, WD-40, a Swiss Army knife, a tube of super glue, and even a battalion of the Swiss Army. With great dexterity obtained as an Eagle Scout, Norman quickly managed to weld his own hand to the floor with super glue.
The mishap was a blessing in disguise. While the dog eagerly licked Norman's face, it stayed still long enough for the color to set.
By the time Rodrigo hosed off Zoe and shampooed the color out, she had white patches marbled with “honey-glow amber.” The resemblance between her and the missing dog was astonishing.
"Well?" Rodrigo asked, cheerily manipulating a hand mirror around Zoe's hind quarters.
“Beautiful, Rodrigo,” Valeria complemented him.
"I was talking to the dog," Rodrigo said.
“There is one teeny tiny problem, though,” Valeria pointed out.
“Zoe is a girl. The missing dog is a boy.”
A collective sigh filled the salon. What had been a sunny, bright day turned to gloom.
"I think it's best we go home now," Valeria said to Norman, who still struggled to detach his hand from the floor. .
"But we must believe," said Norman panting, "Ouch! This is pulling the skin off my hand. . . Yes, belief is the indispensable element."
"Get real," Valeria said. "We'd be just as likely to get a reward for a Pinks hot dog."
"You're scared, Val. That's what it is. You don’t want to give up Zoe. You've had this dog since you were seven years old and Nana gave her to you. When she goes, she's gonna to leave a big empty place in your heart."
"List to Mr. Empathetic," Valeria snarled. "You can't wait to get rid of Zoe. Admit it. You always hated her leaving hairs on the couch, and slobbering in your scrambled eggs. But nothing will change the fact that Boku is a boy and Zoe is a girl."
Seeing tempers rising, Rodrigo did a two-finger whistle and shouted, "Time, guys."
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