I awoke feeling great. Couldn’t wait to start my day. After a pit stop to the bathroom, I hit the start button on the coffee maker and grabbed the newspaper off the front porch.

Stocks were down, gas was up, and sales were on in downtown Princeton. I could feel my credit card burning a hole through my wallet at the thought of browsing at Cloak & Dagger Books, Hulit’s Shoes, and Hamilton Jewelers.

I poured my coffee and sifted through the news. On page two was a recall of a popular pain medication. In fact, it was the one I’d taken last night before bed. I grabbed the bottle from the counter and checked the reference number. Crap, there went my buoyant mood. I called the pharmacy and was told not to worry, just return the leftover pills for a refund or a new bottle. Yeah, like I’m going to trust a new bottle.

I’m still not totally thrilled that my new cholesterol drug, prescribed to me by my doctor might kill me anyway by destroying my liver or at the very least, cause headache, rash, or weakness. The pamphlet said “if any of these, or death (seriously? ) occur, notify your doctor immediately.” I’m guessing here, but I think my doctor is hoping to get an excellent rating in the cholesterol curing department while planning to eventually refer me to a liver specialist or the undertaker.

Enough of the paper. I turned the radio on while I loaded the dishwasher, poured in some detergent, and proceeded to wipe down the stove and counter. “Soapy Suds has been found to cause cancer in rats. If you use Soapy Suds, you may want to switch your dishwasher detergent.” Again-seriously? How long had I been buying this detergent? As long as I could remember.

I sat down to finish my coffee and saw the water and sewer bill where I’d left it as a reminder to pay. I’d received it last week along with a notification that rates were going up. It hadn’t come as a shock, except that the envelope also included the most recent water testing results for my town informing me that the parts per billion of some chemical compound I couldn’t pronounce if my life depending on it (which it actually might-and if I can’t pronounce it, what’s it doing in the water to being with? ) was slightly elevated. I felt a little dizzy reading it. Maybe it’s because I drink the water to swallow my cholesterol pill in a glass washed in Soapy Suds.

My cell phone rang, a welcome distraction. The caller ID read “out of area.” With the way the day was going, what harm would there be in a little caller roulette? “Hello?”

“Hi, Ma’am, how are you today?”


“I’m glad to hear it. Now Ma’am, I’m not trying to sell you anything. I’m just calling to tell you about how you can save money on your cable bill. Do you currently have internet and phone service? You can combine all three and reduce your cost by $60 a month for a year. How does that sound to you?”

On second thought, I really wasn’t in the mood for this. “I’m not interested, sorry.” Click. I hated to hang up. The guy was only trying to make a living. But he sounded 20 years younger than me and is probably not on a recalled medication combined with a lethal dose of Soapy Suds and tap water. If I wanted to make that downtown sale, I had to leave now before my vision blurred or I began to slur my speech.

I threw on some jeans and a T-shirt, grabbed my purse and, what the heck, decided to take the dog along. Come to think of it, where was Bonnie? She hadn’t been outside yet. “Bonnie!”

I checked her bed in the den. Not there. Not in the kitchen, bathroom, hallway. Not under the bed. I looked on the back porch where I found Bonnie chewing on half a flipflop.”Oh, you didn’t,” I said. She growled upon my approach to retrieve the leftovers. After a brief tussle, I got the beach shoe and took her outside. I love my dog. I really do. How she accidentally got locked on the back porch last night is anyone’s guess. Maybe the Soapy Suds causes memory loss and confusion, too.

After a walk around the yard and nothing to show for it, I loaded Bonnie in the car and headed to the Princeton Animal Hospital. Her Shih Tzu fur blew around her head like a supermodel in a photo shoot as she stood with her front paws on the passenger seat’s door handle, head out of the slightly rolled down window.

A police siren startled me. I pulled over to let him pass, but instead he pulled behind me. Not a good sign.

“License and registration.”

I handed them over. Did I miss something? I wasn’t speeding, hadn’t run a light, and was sure I had stopped at the stop signs.

The officer took my documents to his vehicle and while I sweated out the wait (literally) wondering if the sweat was menopause, nerves, or a side effect of the supercalifragi-water that ran through my pipes, I reached over to pet Bonnie, who had settled into the passenger seat and rested her nose between her paws. I looked in the rearview mirror. What was this guy doing? C’mon already.

He stepped from his cruiser and didn’t look happy on his return. “You do know it’s against the law for your dog to ride without a seatbelt?”

Um, no, I didn’t.”Seriously?”

“Just went into effect. First offense is $250.” He handed me my credentials and a ticket.

“I’m taking her to the vet. She just ate a left Vera Bradley flipflop and half a right one. She’s not well.” I wasn’t feeling too good myself. Why had I been so happy this morning?

The cop returned to his car without providing a clue as to what I was supposed to do with Bonnie the vandal and lawbreaker. Until I could get to PetSmart and buy a car seat, I sat her up and slipped the passenger seat belt over her shoulder. “Don’t give me that look. If you hadn’t added rubber to your diet, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

At the vet’s office, Bonnie received an x-ray and I received the news of the bill on top of the cost of the traffic violation. They decided to keep her for observation (i. e. passing of the shoes) and, if necessary, surgical removal. I returned home alone to wait it out.

By dinner time, Bonnie was home, a shoe and a half lighter, and hadn’t needed surgery. The vet had run some routine blood work and discovered my dog had high triglycerides. “So, my dog needs cholesterol medication?” I asked, wondering how this day had come full circle.

“No, we just try to cut fat from the diet. Hopefully that will do it. But, of course, we’ll have to monitor her progress.”

Well, that was good news. If I had had a stomach issue, I’d have had to see my primary doctor to get a referral for a specialist, then wait three months to get an appointment to see the specialist, who would then send me for tests, which would take another couple of weeks to schedule. I’d be waiting for results, then going back to the doctor to go over them with him. Maybe more tests would be needed. Or maybe more medication. Yikes!

But the dog was home in a day.

“Do you have any questions,” the vet asked.

“Just one. Do you see people, too?”

Martin, a South Amboy resident, recently took part in Sisters in Crime’s 25th anniversary celebration by volunteering for a day at the Sadie Pope Dowdell Library in South Amboy as a way of giving back to librarians (and booksellers) who “solve mysteries every day.” She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America.

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