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He bent over and stroked her back, the short, bristly hairs there, and she cocked her head, alert, watching the woods behind his property with her intelligent and predatory gaze.He thumbed the safety off the gun, lifted it up to the back of her head, and pulled the trigger. Jacob buried her in Nora’s garden and waited up until almost four in the morning for Tommy to get back.
“Wait,” Jacob said: a promise as much as a command.
From the moment I read “Good Girl,” from Holly Goddard Jones’s new collection Girl Trouble, it has been one of my favorite stories of the year—so it was doubly happy news when she suggested it for Fifty-Two Stories.
Jones’s characters are confronting crossroads in their lives, and truths in themselves—and the moments she finds them in are ragged, tense, and real.
Now Jacob wasn’t one of those animal rights nutjobs, and he’d never really liked dogs, or any kind of pet, for that matter—always had to scrub his hands clean after petting one, and even then he’d go to bed sure that fleas and ticks were crawling all over him, setting up camp in the graying curly hairs of his underarms or groin.
But he was softer in his middle age than he’d once been—less casual about life since Nora’s passing—and he wouldn’t stand back while the poor animal was tortured, made crazy by one of his son’s misguided whims. He started feeding her when he noticed Tommy was forgetting to, scratching her belly when Tommy was gone and she seemed slow and disconsolate, and at some point—maybe the day he got home from work and she met him at the front porch, bouncing on her hind legs, eyes buggy and worshipful—he realized he loved her, he was grateful to have her.So Jacob had come to know Perry, respected him, and even drank a beer or two with him some nights at the American Legion. ” “She’s going to be all right,” Perry said, and if Jacob had been the crying type, he might have started right then. She called me, but the dog was gone by the time I got out there.” “What should I do? “I’m supposed to get the dog warden out to your place, have her put down. And the family could press charges against you.” “Shit,” Jacob said. “They’re good folks, though, and the little girl’s gonna be all right, like I said. Tommy was gone, of course; he worked fifteen to twenty hours a week for a construction company down in Springfield, Tennessee, spent the rest of his time either messing around with that girl he was seeing—Leela, who was twenty-six and had three kids already and a loose fold of stretch-marked skin that hung over the top of her low-slung jeans, but at least had her tubes tied—or getting wasted with his work buddies, pot or beer, whatever they could get cheaper that day.