the dog that didn’t

Mr Dexter comes out into the hallway, carefully putting his door on the latch first.
‘I’m the only sane one left in the block,’ he says. ‘I’m not kidding. Every single other flat – one on top of the other. I don’t know how much more I can take.’
‘I’m sorry to have bothered you.’
‘It’s no bother. I’m only saying.’
‘I just wondered if you might know anything. I’ve tried knocking. No answer. Shouted through the letterbox. Nothing. I rang his phone, got the same.’
‘He’s not in, then.’
‘I bet. It’s just – with his history…I wanted to be sure.’
‘The dog didn’t bark, did it?’
‘The dog?’
‘He’s got a dog, you know. Did it bark?’
‘Well they’ve both gone out, I ‘spect. The dog normally barks when someone comes to the door.’
‘It’s all getting too much. Do you know – the other day – I had to have the police out. He was collapsed just there, in the corner. Wouldn’t get up. I said you can’t stay there like that, mate, and he said why not. But he didn’t look all that clever. So I got the police out.’
‘Not the ambulance?’
‘No. I asked him was he sick and he said he wasn’t, he was just tired.’
‘What did he say when the police got here?’
‘Not much. Just very – you know. Vague. They put him back in his flat and made a report or something, I don’t know.’
‘Maybe that’s where we come in?’
‘Maybe it is. Something’s gotta happen, because it’s all getting a bit much.’
‘It’s not your fault. It’s not his, either.’
‘Or the dog’s, come to that. What are you going to do now?’
‘I’ll probably come back later.’
‘And what if he doesn’t answer then?’
‘I don’t know. Kick the door in?’
Mr Baxter laughs.
‘They did that last week,’ he says.
‘And were they in?’
‘So the dog didn’t bark then?’
‘No. They were both asleep.’
‘Well. He walks it a lot. Probably wore him out.’

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