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“Maybe you should get a dog,” he said. I had gotten to know some of these cops over the past few weeks pretty well. My take on this one—a middle-aged lanky country boy with a Southwestern line of patter—was that he probably liked dogs a lot. Probably thought everybody ought to have one.

“If you remember,” I said. “Davidson’s first victim was a dog.”

“Yeah, but it was his dog, so I figure he took it by surprise.”

With an axe. If I had known he was like that, I never would have called the police on him for pissing in public. On the other hand, I probably would have called them about the dog, even if it was a noisy obnoxious animal. What the man did to it was what I call Evil.

“I don’t like dogs,” I said. “And neither does my cat.” My gray cat, Neeper, was playing in the basket of strange knick-knacks I collected. I figured she had the right idea, and I pulled a protection charm from the mass of chains and strings and her paws. I slipped it over my head and wished I knew one of those ward gestures. It might be superstition, but it made me feel more in control. A little. Anxieties are a bitch.

“That ain’t gonna help you with this,” he said, pointing at the charm. I looked at him in surprise that he knew what it was. I guess cops see all sorts of behavior in scared people.

“It can’t hurt,” I said.

“That’s for the Evil Eye,” he continued, tilting his head. “You haven’t got a problem with a jealous goddess, ma’am. You’ve got a vengeful psychotic who wouldn’t have the first idea of how to use magic against you. He’ll wanna use a knife or a gun. How’s that gonna help against an axe? Or for that matter, a fist?”

“What am I supposed to do? I can’t afford a security company, and I’ve got enough problems without adding a slobbering mutt to my household.”

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