by Slo Mo
Well... It's been a depressing two weeks chez Dog.
I've spent most of my time lying on the sofa with my head buried in the cushions, trying not to think about the fact that my cousin is coming home very shortly and I have no money and no career plans and now to top it all off I will be out of a house-sitting gig. Not to mention out of a HOUSE, period!
Plus, as we discussed last week, I think I'm getting fat. Which isn't helped by all this sofa-surfing.
So there I was yesterday afternoon, dressed in week-old pajamas, in desperate need of a shower but too depressed to bother, lying on the couch in my natural state of inertia... When Karl came racing in from the pool, skidded across the tiles, and landed on the rug in front of me.
"I've got it, man!"
I buried my head deeper into the cushions and pretended to sleep, but Karl took no notice.
"I finally figured it out! I was floating in the pool thinking about your chest-"
"And then it hit me - mountains!"
"Mountains, man! That's what my subconscious has been trying to tell me these last few days: I need to start a greeting card company."
By now I was sitting bolt upright, wondering if I needed to look for a strait-jacket. "Karl, how the hell do you get a greeting card company from mountains?"
He looked at me like I was the one who needed the strait-jacket. "I think that's a pretty obvious connection, Mo. Mountains... greeting cards... it all fits together. So anyway, are you in? Wanna move to Key Largo and start a greeting card company?"
I rolled my eyes in disgust, then heaved my tired, saggy self off the sofa and headed for the bedroom. "This is SERIOUS, Karl. In another week I'll have nowhere to live. I don't have time to think about Key Largo and your... mountain stuff."
Just before I slammed the door behind me I heard him yell, "I am being serious! What do you have to lose?"
Karl spent the rest of the afternoon following me around the house, convincing me why his subconscious had given him a brilliant idea. We're artistic. (We are not!) We love Key Largo. (We do not!) We can learn how to make hand-crafted paper from recycled materials. (We can not!) We will be smarter than every other greeting card company in the world. (Huh?) We know what we're doing. (HUH?)
So far, he was batting zero. But then he came to the last argument, and it was a home run. "We'll have fun, man. And we love being together, right? And I have enough saved up to get us off the ground, at least for a short while. And it sure beats having you go back to Canada. I don't want you to leave. And you know you can't ask me to move north, man. I'd freeze to death."
I stared out the window for a while and watched some pelicans glide past. I don't want to leave, either. We do love being together. And if there's one thing Karl knows about, it's how to have fun. And he's right - I have nothing to lose. Plus, let's face it, there are worse places than Key Largo. Like Edmonton. Waaay worse.
And I think maybe I love him... I almost do think so for sure.
So I took a shower and Karl took me out for dinner and then we both partook of some major festivities (most of which was none of your damn business) in celebration of our newly formed partnership. Everything seemed suddenly so perfect to me, like my life had finally fallen right into place. No more standing still! At last, I'm going forward.
When we were all done celebrating we rested together in the patio hammock and listened to the night frogs, while Dog and Star ate restaurant leftovers and lazed on the lounge chairs beside us...
"Star will love it in the Keys, man! Too bad Dog can't come."
"But maybe your cousin will bring him down for a visit."
The truth is, the whole time I had been worrying and obsessing about where I'd go and what I'd do, it had never, EVER crossed my mind that Dog wouldn't be right there with me. This house has never really felt like my home... but Dog and I belong together.
I squiggled out of the hammock and went over to where he was snoring peacefully on his lounge chair. I pressed my cheek against his side and breathed in the warm, salty scent of his fur, and thought back to the first day we met, when I was so scared of him I barely made it across the threshold. I thought about all the times he'd stuck by me, the road trip and the election scandal and the vampire roommate and rescuing Star and the weird parties and the hurricane... And all the quiet times in between, when I was alone here and he was the only friend I had. Especially those times. I thought about all that stuff. Then he opened one eye and gave me a slow, slurpy kiss.
He's my dog. It's as simple as that.
"Dog can't stay with my cousin! He just can't! She'll go back to calling him Pookie-Poo and make him wear those dumb kerchiefs and feed him diet cookies and spray him with dog cologne and forbid him to chase squirrels and teach him cute tricks and force him to stay inside so he doesn't get dirty and turn him back into a SISSY! There's no way."
Karl just shook his head. "He's your cousin's dog, Mo."
"She can't take care of him the way I can! He needs me!"
But all Karl did was smile sadly and take us all inside to bed.
I lay awake for a long time, waiting for the others to settle into their familiar sleep, Karl flat on his back with the pillows at his ankles, Star sighing and farting contentedly at the foot of the bed, Dog snoring away on the rug. I thought about my cousin, and Karl, and Key Largo, and the future, and packing boxes and greeting cards and mountains. And then, when I knew they all were fast asleep, I crept out of bed and curled up beside Dog on the rug, and whispered:
So long, buddy. And thanks for all the drool.