Steve crouched on the floor. "Crunch. Come here, boy."
Junior stared at them. "He doesn't remember us," Cyndi said, swaying on her feet. "Is that possible?"
"He's not awake yet," I said. "Wake up, Junior." He leaped up and pranced over to sit on my foot. I said, "I've been calling him Junior."
Junior. Steve patted the floor. Junior went to Steve, wagging his tail. I held my breath. Steve scratched Junior's ears and then inspected him all over, even examining his teeth. Finally Steve looked up at me, but I couldn't read his expression. "Thank you," he said gravely.
Cyndi plopped down on my bed, her face pale. "I still can't believe it. I haven't been able to sleep; my blood pressure's gone up. My due date's in six weeks."
"Sit," Steve said to Junior. Junior licked Steve's face. "Lie down," Steve said. Junior jumped up and put his paws on Steve's shoulders. Steve said, "He doesn't remember anything I taught him."
"Dumb dog," I said.
"Crunch," Cyndi called in a soft voice, and Junior trotted over and hopped up on the bed beside her. "Now he remembers," she murmured, hugging him. "He remembers. Hello, Crunch."
I thought. It could be. Or Crunch reincarnated. I started to cry, and I imagined Merry shaking her head in disgust.
"Are you sad about giving him up?" Cyndi said. "I'm sorry. I've been thinking only about myself."
"He's not Crunch," I said. "He's Junior. Hooneor."
Cyndi frowned at Steve. "Where are your parents?" Steve said.
"My grandmother." I gestured with my head. "She's senile." I wiped my nose on the back of my hand and then wiped my hand on my dress.
"I'm sure you're upset," Cyndi said. "You can get another dog."
"No," I said. "I'm trying to tell you. This dog came from the pound."
Cyndi and Steve exchanged concerned looks. "We're just glad you found him," Cyndi said, scooping up Crunch and handing him over to Steve. Crunch lay awkwardly in Steve's arms with his legs sticking straight out, and they both stroked him under the chin. They didn't care whether or not Junior was Crunch. They loved him no matter what.
"I almost drowned someone," I said. "I was scared and I took it out on her."
Cyndi patted my shoulder. "You'll be okay, Tabitha," Steve said.
"My name's not Tabitha," I said. "It's really Sophie St. John. My parents sent me out here from Iowa for the summer, but my grandmother doesn't even know me." I stopped crying, and my heart began to pound. I could feel their generosity infecting me. "You're not suckers," I said. "You're good people."
"That's nice," Cyndi said. She turned to Steve. "We should get going."
Crunch began to squirm, and Steve dumped him onto the floor. "I hate to leave Sophie here," Steve said to Cyndi. "We could give her a ride back to Iowa. It's on the way."
Cyndi slipped her arm around Steve's waist and sagged against him, but she didn't protest. I sensed they were playing some sort of game, a game in which they took turns leading valiant, ill-conceived rescue missions. One proposed a course of action that most people would consider absurd, and the other went along as though it all made perfect sense. Their game, the kindness and futility of it, and the way it bonded them together, made me like them even more.