Journal entry: September 24, 1979 (age 10) — London Broil
Mom pulled into the garage and, as she walked into the house, waved to my brother, Dan, and me. We were playing a game of H-O-R-S-E on the square slab of concrete that functions as our backyard basketball court. Just as Dan sank his “E” shot, Mom called us inside, with a worried tone in her voice. Her immediately noticing something amiss in our home was not an unusual occurrence – she had once detected the smell of burnt toast from our driveway.
When we joined her in the kitchen, she asked what had happened to the rest of the London broil the three of us had eaten for dinner. “I left it out for your father’s dinner when he gets home, but it’s gone.” Dan suggested someone might have put it in the fridge, but Mom said she had already checked there. “Besides, the plate it was on is still in the middle of the dinner table. I left it there so Amber couldn’t get to it.”
Hearing her name, our dog, Amber, came into the room, her normally lively walk weighed down to a weary waddle. “Oh dear Lord!” cried my mother, seeing that Amber’s small frame had assumed the grotesque shape of a snake that had swallowed a goat. “There must have been four pounds of beef on that plate!” Dan and I started to laugh, but Mom was having none of it. “She’s not a big dog, and she may have hurt herself by eating so much.” Indeed, Amber did not look right. She looked pregnant, and her engorged sides were hard to the touch. But she also had a look of contented bliss on her face as she sort of tipped over onto the kitchen rug.
The three of us tried to reconstruct the crime scene. The plate on which the broil had sat was not only undisturbed in the middle of our large kitchen table, but free of any trace of meat or drop of juice. None of the chairs was pulled out far enough for the dog to have used it as a stairway to steer. The dog herself is a relatively small creature, with short legs. We guess that her mutt heritage includes mostly beagle blood, but the coloring and thickness of her fur suggests she may be part German shepherd. That stock did not manifest itself in her size, but did, I thought, provide a clue as to why she might have so relentlessly attacked something with “London” in its name.
Mom came up with the theory that our other pet, a Siamese cat named Ruby, had acted as an accomplice in the case. Ruby must have seen and heard Amber pining for the out-of-reach chow, Mom reasoned, and leapt onto the table to drag or push the meat off the edge. Dan and I didn’t buy into this theory. But we couldn’t come up with a more plausible one, so Mom’s became the official story. By the time Dad got home, Mom was utterly convinced that Ruby the cat burglar and Amber the grateful glutton had planned and executed the culinary crime of the century. “They’re in cahoots!” she insisted. My father laughed. Then, his smile fading into the realization of a crime’s only victim, inquired “So what’s left for my dinner?”