Amy and Clyde

by Richard Zacks

Amy called before breakfast. “Clyde’s dead. I don’t know what to do. Please help me.”

Clyde, a twelve-year-old, lethargic, overweight Border Collie, was Amy’s only companion. They shared a studio apartment. Amy and Clyde were inseparable. At her office he slept under her desk. On weekends they walked together through the neighborhood to restaurants with outdoor tables where Clyde could sit on a chair facing Amy while she ate.

“How can we help?” I asked.

I can’t think of a decent, affordable way to dispose of Clyde’s body. I’d bury him in my garden, if I had a garden. The super and the other residents won’t let me bury him in the apartment courtyard.”

I called 311. Amy angrily rejected their solution: Just put the animal in a plastic bag, label the bag “dead dog’” and leave it out on the sidewalk on your garbage collection day.

Someone suggested cremation. “It’s expensive.” Amy said. “My vet will charge more than $500, but I’m afraid I have no better option.” We all closed our eyes and tried not to inhale as we inserted Clyde into a garbage bag. Amy put the garbage bag in a red suitcase she said she never wanted to see again. Carol, a young neighbor, volunteered to take Clyde to the vet’s office, a thirty-minute, taxi ride.

Fifteen minutes later Carol returned to Amy’s apartment, sans Clyde. “It’s done.” she told us, “And it cost you nothing.” 

“What happened?” Amy asked

“I rolled the suitcase four blocks uphill to Water Street, left it on the sidewalk and stepped into the street to hail a taxi. When one stopped I turned to get the suitcase. It was gone, stolen. Clyde is now someone else’s problem.”

For most of my life I was a lawyer who wanted to be a writer. I joined the IRP hoping to become a writer who used to be a lawyer. This essay was a Writing Workshop class assignment.