In which our hero needs Anise to solve a problem she created for him.
“I don’t know what to do with him.”
He and Anise were at the dog park sitting on a wooden picnic bench. Igor was now, after a visit to the vet, completely shaved and looked like a sad pink rat with bulging bug eyes. He was sitting beside them shaking in terror at the sight and smell of the other dogs. A Doberman pincher had come up to smell him at one point and Igor began barking his head off, barring his fangs with a vicious insanity.
Anise had just come from work and was still in her barista uniform: black button up, black pants, an apron, a baseball cap. She was pensively sipping her large ice coffee, which seemed to be about half filled with cream. In her other hand she had a cigarette that she seemed uninterested in actually smoking.
“He just needs sometime to get used to not being a little street rat.”
“Even when he does. I work all week, you know, I’m not sure what to do with him during the day.”
“You should put him in a doggie daycare. Once you take him to the vet.”
“I took him this morning.”
“I’m awed by your responsibility.”
“It just worked out that the vet was in and she had a cancellation or something. He’s not all that sick, he’s got fleas and a skin condition, but the main thing he has is, her words, ‘crippling anxiety’. She recommended that I get him accustomed to being in safe spaces or something. She told me I shouldn’t leave him alone with other dogs for a while. So doggy daycare is out.”
“I figured I should explain about the other guys.”
“I figured there were other guys, so you don’t have to explain. It’s OK.”
They watched the dogs run around the park. It was strange how innocently sexual dogs were. This one pair kept trying to mate. The male would chase the female all around the perimeter of the dog park until she just gave in and he mounted her. Then their separate owners, who were socializing with the other dog people at the park, would notice what was going on and separate them. After this occurred, the dogs would separate for a few minutes and then the male would begin the dance over again. They seemed to think of it like a game, something real implications or consequences. There was something so easy about the intimacy of the gesture and the fluidity of switching from complete strangers to mates and then slipping back into complete strangers once again.
At some point Anise crushed her cigarette on the ground, set aside her coffee, and picked up Igor. In her lap he rolled over submissively onto his stomach. She pet him gently and absent-mindedly.
“Give me a key to your apartment.”
“So I can take Igor out while you’re at work. I’ll hang with him at your place when I can. Laura’s all pissy with me anyway so it’ll be good to give her some space during the day while she’s studying.”
“I don’t know—”
“Come on, man, I’m not going to rob you or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. I mean, not gonna lie, I’ll probably eat some of your food, but I’m not gonna steal from you or anything. And, if you’re worried about it, I won’t do any ‘business transactions’ at your place. It’d be stupid to do them there anyway.”
“Still what? You need someone to take care of Igor until he’s less anxious. I’m great with dogs, and, since I dropped this all on you, I want to do something to help. Let me do this”
Later, after they’d spent the rest of the day lingering around his apartment in their underwear watching Netflix and eating cereal, he gave her the keys as she was getting dressed.
“Don’t look so weirded out about this,” she said taking the keys. As they lingered in the doorway she smiled at him with an uncharacteristically tender smile, “And the real plus of all this is that you’ll get to see my beautiful face more often.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and left.
Igor looked up at him with confused eyes. Then, tongue hang out of mouth and tail wagging, he peed on the hallway floor.
Image Source: Nakhla50 via Wikimedia Commons