Maybe it was concussions Alva got playing football or lead gas exposure over the years but he was unable to focus or absorb new information by about the age of sixty. I mean he was always a bit like that, but he got worse. He was immune to facts about how the ranch was being run into the ground. And he was horrible at poker, just like his grandfather. That got worse too. Before Aunt Connie got involved he nearly lost the ranch.
Have you ever known someone where the only good thing you could say about him was that you liked his dogs? All of Alva’s dogs were great. There were always several with him at the ranch. While they stayed right by his side, he seldom expressed affection for them. But they didn’t take their eyes off Aunt Connie whenever she entered the room.
No, the best thing about Alva wasn’t even Alva’s. The dogs' job was to mind him like a flock of sheep - follow him around and alert Aunt Connie if he strayed far. He used to lock himself in the old outhouse just to get away. But after about ten minutes they’d start howling and barking. There was this one persistent terrier that dug right underneath so far so it started to lean. The door jammed and he was trapped in there for hours. Everyone missed the dogs first.
Rosa chuckled. She frequently digressed from ranch history into excruciatingly detailed descriptions of each of Connie’s dogs. Chock asked her about his enemies.
He called them his business partners - not his enemies. God, he was dumb. I suppose Connie could have had a hand in their disappearance. But those guys probably had lots of other enemies. Real enemies. Nobody really believes a sweet old lady who makes empanadas and tamales at Christmas is capable of … that kind of thing. Whatever. They never found those two men, dead or alive. There was a TV show about it long after she died but nothing came of it except a little notoriety for Sammy.
She took a sip of tea and stood up to look out the painted window of her atrium. Her dogs stood up, stretching, and the hawk-eyed burro in the pasture rotated one giant ear her direction in acknowledgment.
Remembering hurt. She missed Connie. She missed each of those old dogs. But she sure didn't miss Alva. Chocky saw himself out. She sat down again and smiled.