I kick my feet up on the kitchen table and text my father.
Me: Any word from the vet?
I wait to see if the text bubbles appear, but they don’t. I set the phone down and pull my crossword puzzle in front of me. My phone rings, so I flip it over to check the caller ID. I smile when I see it’s Sagan.
“Hey.” His voice is heavy, like he had to drag the word out.
He sighs into the phone. “Your father wanted me to call you. He uh . . . Wolfgang . . . he died on the way to the vet.”
I almost drop my phone. “What? How?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure it was just old age.”
I sigh and wipe away a surprising tear.
“Yeah,” I say, sighing again. “I just . . . is my dad okay?”
“I’m sure he is. He did mention we might go bury him later, though. Probably at Pastor Brian’s church, so I’ll be later than usual. I’ll text you.”
“Okay. Thanks for letting me know.”
“See you tonight.”
I end the call and stare at my phone for a full five minutes before I move. I’m surprised I’m sad. Other than living in the yard adjacent to the dog as a kid, I’ve really only interacted with him for a few days. But the last week of that poor dog’s life was complete crap. His owner died and then he walked several miles in the rain in the middle of the night only to end up getting sick and dying in the midst of complete strangers. I’m glad they’re going to bury him on Pastor Brian’s property, though. I’m sure they’d both prefer it that way.
I don’t hear from Sagan or my father for several hours. The mood in the house is awkward at best, so I stay in my room most of the evening. Victoria doesn’t even cook, so we all eat separately.
I’m cleaning up the mess from my frozen dinner when Utah’s phone rings. He’s on the couch with Luck and Honor watching TV, but his phone is next to me on the bar.
“Who is it?” he asks from the living room.
I glance at the caller ID, but it’s not a number he has saved. “I don’t know. It’s a local number, but there’s no name.”
“Will you answer it?”
I dry my hands on a towel and reach for his phone.
“No, it’s Merit.”
“Merit,” my father says. “Where’s Utah?”
“He’s in the living room. What’s up?”
He sighs. “Well . . . we need someone to pick us up.”
I laugh. Is this some kind of joke? “You own like eighty cars. Why in the world do you need a ride?”
“We’re uh . . . in jail.”
I pull the phone away from my ear and put it on speaker. I motion for Utah to mute the TV. “What do you mean you’re in jail? And who is we? Is Sagan in jail, too?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you when you get here.”
“Who’s in jail?” Utah asks, walking into the kitchen. I motion for him to be quiet so I can hear my father.
“Do we need like . . . bail money? I’ve never picked anyone up from jail before.”
“No, we just need a ride. We’ve been here two hours already waiting for them to let us make a phone call.”
“Okay. We’re on our way.” I end the call.
“Why are they in jail?” Utah says.
I shrug. “I don’t know. Should we tell Victoria?”
“Tell me what?” Victoria walks into the kitchen with impeccable timing.
“Dad’s in jail,” Utah says, turning to face her. “With Sagan.”
She pauses. “What?”
“Don’t know what he did, but I can’t wait to find out,” Utah says. Honor and Luck are now in the kitchen. We’re all looking at each other like we don’t know what to do. I guess we don’t. It’s not every day we have to go pick our father up from jail.
“Have him call me as soon as you pick him up,” Victoria says. “I have to stay with Moby.”
I nod and head to my room to find my shoes. What in the world did they do?
I don’t know what I was expecting, but when my father and Sagan walk out of the doors of the jail, they look normal. We’ve been waiting in the parking lot for over an hour for them to process their paperwork. All they would tell us was that they were arrested for desecration. I don’t even know what that means.
My first inclination is to rush up to Sagan and hug him, but I don’t. Especially in front of anyone else. Instead, I wait until he reaches the car and I discreetly squeeze his hand.
“What’d you guys do?” Utah asks.
My father swings open the passenger door of the van. “We were trying to bury a damn dog, that’s what we were doing.” He sits down and slams his door shut. We all look at Sagan and he’s got an exasperated expression on his face.
“I tried to tell him it was a bad idea,” he says.
“Burying the dog?” Luck asks.
Sagan shakes his head. “I thought we were burying him at the church, but . . . your father had a different plan.”
“He didn’t,” Honor says in disbelief.
“Didn’t what?” Utah says.
“He wanted to bury him with Pastor Brian,” Sagan says.
“In a cemetery?” Luck asks.
“You got arrested for desecrating a grave?” I ask.
Sagan nods. “I mean, technically we were just digging a hole near Pastor Brian, but when the police catch you in a cemetery with shovels, they don’t really care what the explanation is.”
“Holy shit,” Utah says.
“Get in the van!” my father yells.
We all climb into the van. I end up in the backseat with Sagan, but I don’t mind it. Utah cranks the van, but right before we pull out of the police station, a cruiser pulls in. My father rolls down the window.
“Oh, no,” Sagan says.
He nods toward the cops getting out of the car. “They’re the ones who arrested us.”
“Dad,” I say, not wanting him to do anything stupid.
“What’d you do with the dog?” my father asks the officers.
The cop who was driving walks over to the window. “Buried him at Pastor Brian’s church,” he says. “Same place you probably should have buried him.”
“Yeah, well . . . hindsight and all that shit,” my dad says. He waves his hand to Utah. “Let’s go.”
Utah backs up and the cop taps the top of the hood before turning to walk toward the police station. I watch out the window as both the cops start laughing.
“Great. Another rumor to pin on the Voss family,” Honor says from the seat in front of us.
“Technically, it’s not a rumor,” Sagan says. “We were digging in a cemetery without a permit. It’s illegal.”
Honor spins around. “I know that, but now the entire town is going to think Dad was trying to exhume Pastor Brian. Everyone knows he’s an atheist, now there’ll be rumors about him wanting to perform satanic rituals on his dead body.”
“Won’t be the worst thing people have said about us,” my father says from the front seat.
Honor faces forward again. “I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if most of the rumors weren’t true.”
My father looks at her in the rearview mirror. “Are you saying you’re ashamed to be a Voss?”
Honor sighs. “No. I’m just ashamed to be your daughter.”
“Oh, shit,” Luck says under his breath.
My father turns around. “And why is that, Honor?”
“Dad,” Utah says. “Give it a rest. It’s been a crazy week.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Honor says sarcastically. “Maybe because you don’t know the first thing about being a decent husband or father?”
My father turns back around and unlocks his door. “Stop the van.”
“What?” Utah says. “No.”
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