Button the Maltese began the morning ritual of yapping and waking neighbors when he saw Digger the Beagle poke his nose through a small rounded hole in the fence. Digger followed suit, baying back at his neighbor, but unlike most morning, the commotion abruptly stopped a few seconds later. The dogs’ owners didn’t care why the barking stopped. They were instead content with the silence until an hour later when Chang, Button’s owner, decided to investigate why he had not showed up for his morning breakfast or nap on her lap.
Chang peeked outside as she slid open the patio door, but the fluffy white dog was nowhere to be seen. Instead she saw her neighbor’s yard through an opening, where five feet of fencing normally separated Buttons and Digger. As she approached the opening, she further noticed a two feet wide hole on the ground, tracing where the fence once stood. She stared, confused, down into the void, when she heard her neighbor’s sliding glass door open from their second floor deck. Chang looked up and saw Brittany, her neighbor’s fourteen year old daughter leaning over the banister.
“Digger!” called Brittany.
Chang called back. “Is Digger missing too?”
Brittany didn’t answer when she spotted the slit where the fence once stood. Instead, she called out to her mother and disappeared back into the house.
Seconds later, Brittany and her mother, Linda, came out onto the second floor deck and ran down the stairs to the yard. They joined Chang, standing across the hole from her. “What happened?” Linda asked Chang while pointing at the hole. “Where did that come from?”
“I have no idea,” replied Chang.
Linda hollered down the hole for Digger.
“So he is missing?” asked Chang.
“Yeah. He never came back in this morning,” replied Linda.
“Neither did Buttons,” said Chang. “You don’t think?” Tears welled in her eyes as she covered her mouth.
“Oh my God, Mom.” said Brittany. “You think they fell in?”
The three neighbors stared into the darkness when all at once they heard an echoing bark and painful yelp, followed by a loud burping noise.
Chang and Linda stared into each other’s eyes, dumbfounded, while Brittany ran from the hole and up the stairs crying and calling for her father.
Next door, Helen Turnbohl walked outside onto her deck carrying a coffee pot and a plate of scones. “What’s all the commotion?” she asked her husband Charlie while refilling his cup.
Charlie folded back his newspaper and glared at his neighbors. “Appears the dogs fell in that hole.” He then took a sip of coffee, shook the newspaper and returned to reading.
Helen gasped. “How did you manage that?”
“Manage what?” he asked.
“Every morning for the past three years you’ve wished a hole would swallow up those two noisy dogs, and there you have it.”
Charlie peeked again over his newspaper and grinned.