Excerpt from Chapter 1 Alibhai’s Dilemma

Horst and Harriet Haenert’s farmhouse back porch windows framed the northern Midwest’s gloriously sedate sunrises.

  Harriet mentioned rather casually as we shared breakfast on the porch one summer day that she didn’t think Alibhai would make it through the next winter. On this summer morning, Alibhai was dozing in the breeze under billowing pines. I studied him over my breakfast cereal and realized she was probably right.

  Alibhai’s stance was a hair less than content. A typical vicious Northern Illinois winter could indeed make his life miserable. Alibhai might decide it was time to move on.

  “Send him to Kiki’s,” I suggested, referring to Harriet’s sister in Arizona. “He’d do fine down there, wouldn’t he?”

  She thought it over. “We can’t afford to send him down there.”

  “Well, ride him down there,” I suggested, hoping to deflect a host of unpleasant facts with mild humor.

  “I can’t. I have to be back teaching school this fall, and he’ll have to take it kind of slowly,” she said. “But you could,” she continued…and went to get an atlas.