Alegre's limp disappeared as she rounded the corner after the businessman with the fig tree. She bounded down the alleyway and caught up with him when he stopped by an exiled mattress leaning on a dumpster. He grunted as he dropped the fig tree on the pavement, then lit a cigarette from the pack in his jacket pocket. He hadn't seen Alegre yet. She stepped quietly behind the recycling bins belonging to the apartment building next door and wormed her way between them under she was on the other side of the dumpster from the businessman.
As he tossed his cigarette into the dumpster and bent to pick up the fig tree, Alegre leaped out from behind the dumpster and pushed him over. He fell back onto the pavement, catching himself on his palms.
"What the?!" he muttered, poised on his palms, watching the golden labrador watching him. The businessman's eyes narrowed and he glanced past the dog at the fig tree. Alegre snarled and snapped her teeth at him, then lunged. The businessman yelped and fell back onto his elbows in a panic, as he tried to slithered backwards. He heaved a sigh of relief when he realized she had faked the lunge. He looked at her and she stared unblinking back at him.
"I'll find you, dog," he said. "I'll find you, flay you and get that tree back." He stood up, brushed himself off and sauntered down the lane, whistling.
Alegre barked once. A terrier, a pug and a wiener dog emerged from various apartment buildings. The four dogs carried the fig tree down the lane and across the street to the back gate of a large stone house. Alegre slipped through the dog door, then opened the gate from the inside.
They took the fig tree down the flagstone path, around the water fountain and pond, behind three Japanese maples that were next to the fence protecting the stone house from the dilapidated home next door.
The dogs began to dig.
"Hurry, they're growing!" Alegre called as she glanced up a the tree. Dirt and paws flew.