CRIME UP! shouted the headlines. The old man threw the paper aside in
disgust and called to Clarence, his imaginary dog. "Clarence, if you see
a stranger coming near this house, any stranger whatsoever, I want you
to bark as loud as you can. Is that clear?" Clarence barked and nodded
A week later, two teenagers broke into the man's basement and ran off
with some assorted junk. The next afternoon, the old man went for his
monthly hair cut. The barber, who knew about the imaginary dog, greeted
him: "Good to see you again. How's that dog of yours?"
"Just cut my hair, if you don't mind."
"Sure. Guess you don't feel like talking."
"Not about that stinkin' dog."
"I thought you loved that dog."
"I did, until it sold out to some thieves."
"That's right. My place was robbed and Clarence is gone. They probably
bribed him with a hamburger."
The barber paused, holding the scissors aloft for a moment, then spoke.
"Wait a minute. How do you know Clarence wasn't kidnapped?"
"I know because of this note." The old man said, reaching into his shirt
pocket, pulling out a scrap of paper and handing it to the barber.
Written on the paper in block letters were these words: "Goodbye you old
fool. I'm off to a better life."
Having witnessed many species of human foible, the barber recovered from
his momentary shock and said, "Listen. How do you know the thieves
didn't write that note?"
The old man's face showed several signs of contempt. "How do I know," he
sneered. "Easy, didn't I raise Clarence from a puppy?"
"Well, yes, I guess you did."
"And didn't I train him and teach him?"
"I guess you did," the somewhat befuddled barber replied. "But so what."
"So what, he wants to know. So what. I'll tell you so what. Don't you
think I'd know that rat of a dog's handwriting when I see it."
" I guess so," the barber replied and continued clipping the old man's