Five

"Grumble grumble, grumble grumble?" said Brian's father of the knocks at their door. "Grumble grumble grumble?"

"I have no idea," said Brian's mother. "I'm not expecting anyone either."

"Grumble?" said Brian's father to their visitor.

"Mr. Bannister," said Brian's mother. "Tom. It's late for a visit. What can we do for you?"

"Lottie, Will," said Mr. Bannister. "I know the time. I received a visitor myself just now. Knocking over my trash cans. It says it belongs to you. I'll leave it to you to dispose of the soiled diaper it's enjoying."

"Grumble grumble grumble?" said Brian's father. "Grumble grumble."

"Yes, please see that it doesn't happen again," said Mr. Bannister who then left.

"I worry about Tom," said Brian's mother. "Did you hear the way he rambled on about the dog talking?"

"Grumble grumble grumble," said Brian's father.

"Just the same, I do worry about him," she said. "I'll ask Becky about him the next time I see her. Confiding to the dog is all fun and games until discarded bodies start to turn up."

"This dog talks," said Brian. "He's a circus dog."

"Grumble," said Brian's father who then returned to sleep.

"The dog has been here for not even a day, Brian," said his mother. "Already I have to ask if you fed him."

"No, thank you," said the dog. "The great hunger subsides. But for how long?"

"You see?" said Brian. "Talks."

"Don't play throwing your voice when I ask you to account for yourself," she said. "If I learn Mr. Bannister is the victim of an elaborate prank—"

"He told me he's a circus dog," said Brian. "But I think he ran away, because he won't tell me from where."

"Brian, please," she said. "Just get the dog some decent food tomorrow. And let's hope his owner contacts the police soon."

"Sure, Mom, thanks," said Brian.

"Merci, Mademoiselle," said Spot.

"And don't let your Aunt Fern hear you throw your voice," she said. "She doesn't always know when she's had too much to drink. She makes enough excuses on her own without claiming domestic animals talk to her."