The Tangling Point

Tim Parks

Before the dinner, my wife told me that her boss’s daughter was obsessed by dogs. Her parents were worried about it, more than worried. In fact, they had asked whether I might be able to help. I remarked that I had never heard that a love for animals constituted a pathology. My wife sighed and explained that the young woman, Eleonora, had a job teaching biology in a local school, but couldn’t be persuaded to leave home, claiming she needed all her extra money for her dogs.

“How many does she have?”

“Only two of her own. It seems she’s a dog savior. She drives all over Europe saving dogs.”

My wife had finally returned to work after many years as a housewife and mother. I was anxious that the job go well and that she be happy there. Our mar- riage had run out of steam many years ago, the last child was leaving home, and there was the prospect that we would be able to separate without too much trauma. A good job—she was PA to the director of a busy pharmaceutical concern—could only facilitate this, giving my wife something to rebuild her life around. Hence, when she said her boss had invited us to dinner, I agreed at once, hoping this indicated an investment on both sides in their new work relationship.

“I think he partly invited us so as to talk to you about her. He seemed very interested when I said you were a therapist.”

We had arrived at the house, an attractive villa on the hills to the north of town. The automatic gate swung open, a yellow light flashing above one of the posts.

“What do you mean, ‘saving dogs’?” I asked.

“It seems people alert her when they hear of a dog being mistreated, and she goes and rescues the creature and finds it a good home.”

“Sounds rather noble,” I said.

“Think if one of our kids were doing that,” my wife snapped back. “Be serious.” It was a while since we had spent an evening together.

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