How Far Does the Apple Fall?

When I was very young, my mother had a little tan Chihuahua named Peaches. Everybody loved the little dog (my first word was “Peaches”), except for my paternal grandmother. She couldn’t stand Peaches and the feeling was mutual. Once when she and my grandfather were visiting, Peaches got sick in the middle of the night, and even though the vet was good enough to get out of bed and meet my mother at the clinic, the dog still died. I think I was about three, and I have disjointed, pastel memories of my mother coming home very early in the morning, crying, and a backyard funeral with a shady grave.
Fast-forward twenty years. My mother had been battling breast cancer for a couple of years, and Alzheimer’s was just settling in on my grandmother. She couldn’t remember what she had just eaten for lunch, but she could remember her stories from way back when. One of her favorites, that she told over and over, was about the time that my grandfather had taken to feeding a stray dog. She thought it was a waste of resources to feed a mongrel that nobody wanted, so one day, when my grandfather was out in the cotton field, she shot the dog.
The proverbial chill went down my spine. From the first time I ever heard the story, I wondered if she had done something to Peaches. I never asked her directly, because sometimes, it’s better to wonder than to know. But I think this is one of the roots of my fascination with sociopaths.