by Slo Mo
I survived the plane ride (thank god for the mini Kahlua bottles I'd stuffed in my purse - they really quieted those kids down) and arrived on my cousin's doorstep this morning, suitcase in hand, feeling a wee bit outclassed by the fancy surroundings, just like that part in the "Sound Of Music" where Julie Andrews shows up at the Von Trapp place. Except I'm pretty sure she didn't have a pierced tongue. And I don't sing. And I can't sew dresses from curtains. And nuns freak me out. And, well, other than that it's a pretty good analogy.
A note was hidden under the bouganvillea near the front door, as Katrina had promised, along with what appeared to be a very stale Fig Newton:
Instructions are on the kitchen counter. Call the neighbors if you need anything. The dog's name is Pookie-poo. Give him a cookie when he meets you and he'll love you forever.
The big black and tan one on the other side of the glass door, obviously. Oh jeez. He started barking as soon as I punched in the first digit of the keyless entry code, and by the time the lock released he'd managed to accent his performance with an impressive spray of snarl-induced foam.
So far, Pookie-poo didn't look like he was ready to love anyone. I pushed the door open an inch, cursed Katrina for the next thousand years, and tossed the Fig Newton inside.
It took him less than a second to gulp it down, but that's all the time I needed to hustle my sweaty little self over the threshold and realize that, dog or no dog, I'd hit the jackpot - terrazzo floors, designer furniture, kidney-shaped pool, and beyond that a clear view to the beach. This is the biggest damn bungalow I've ever seen, and the nicest one, too. And to think that for the next while, it's Chez Moi.
Then the barking resumed.
I don't know what the hell was up with Katrina when she named him, but Pookie-poo is the least pook-ish dog I've ever seen. The coloring of a doberman, the hair of a wolfhound, the fangs of a mastiff, the paws of a great dane, the eyes of Godzilla... This is no garden-variety mutt, this is a canine bio-engineering experiment gone horribly awry. A big, bionic mutant critter.
"Hey, Dog," I whispered. Sorry, but no way was I saying his name. "Are you a good boy?"
I fished in my purse for the breakfast bar they'd given me on the plane. Simulated artificial non-fruit "strawberry" filling encased in soggy oatmeal. Yum.
"Here ya go, buddy. Bon appetit."
I broke off little bits of the bar and used them to distract Dog while I got settled in the house.
Basically, Dog is happy so long as you're giving him food. Just like my ex-boyfriend. (Oops! I promised myself I wouldn't mention that bastard and his slutty new girlfriend, whose myriad and complex figure flaws I'd be happy to describe for you in gut-wrenching detail if I was thinking about her, and him, which I'm not.)
The keys to Katrina's convertible were on the kitchen counter, along with some phone numbers and basic info about the house, like which day the guy comes to clean the pool and who to call if the garbage doesn't get picked up and what to do if the sprinkler system explodes. Important stuff, I'm sure, but at that point all I could think of was how good the bright sun and cool water would feel against my tired, pale skin...
Of course, I fell asleep in a lounge chair. At mid-day. With no sunscreen.
So now here I sit on the living room floor, swathed in ice packs and Solarcaine aplenty, while Dog (who seems pissed that we've already run out of breakfast bars) refuses to let me on the sofa, and I try not to think about how many days it will take for me to stop looking like an overcooked lobster. Ahhhh, paradise.