I saw his hand slide towards his seat belt buckle and I squeezed his arm, said goodbye and thanked him in quick succession. I’d opened the car door and gotten out and had my apartment door closed behind me before I’d exhaled fully. I looked down. “What the hell are you doing here, Molly?” I hissed at the dog. She wagged her stump and looked at me with significance. Maybe it wasn’t significance – maybe it was just the size of her eyes.
I’d had enough champagne to feel cheerful, sufficiently cheerful not to care that a French Bulldog had suddenly taken up residence in my house. I’d known there was a chance the director needed me to watch Molly but I’d assumed it meant I would stay in her house. How can I describe her house? Well-apportioned, I suppose.
“I couldn’t invite him in,” I told Molly as she whined and looked at the door. She loves John, she remembers when he used to bring his daughter to school. I slid down the door and sat on the ground while she sniffed my shoes. “Do you have any idea what people in this town say about me?” Her stump wagged. “Actually, is isn’t good at all. Stop wagging your stump. Ac-tually, it . . . ” I don’t know what he thought would come next, I thought. What if he thought – I mean – what if he just shrugged to himself and said ‘my turn’, you know? I hugged my knees. Molly snuffed at the hand that had touched his shoulder persistently, as if there were something still there.
“You look like you’re bleeding,” he told me, suddenly stopping and tilting his head to look at me. “Are you bleeding?”
“No, I’m not bleeding. Now, as far as the non-competitive clause goes – ”
“Are you sure you’re not bleeding?” I shrugged, not in confusion, but defeat. Once he had a thought he would pursue it to its end – whether it was logical or completely fantastical. He had gotten hold of the idea I was bleeding and he was going to – well, he was going to shred the idea as thoroughly as the director’s French Bulldog shreds used tissues.
He looked at my feet. “Is it going to start falling out of you?” I rubbed my face with the back of my hand. “Dude, that doesn’t even make any sense.”
“Alright then, is it collecting somewhere in your internal cavities?”
I have no power. There is only a certain amount of juice left in my computer, and then – well, as long as there’s plenty of kitten formula (and coffee) Havana and I will be fine.
The neighbors haven’t lost their power. They have twinkling lights and humming machines and laughter on the lawn. They also have a vintage camper that looks, at least to me, like a shiny silver bullet. They have dogs that bark incessantly in a lackadaisical sort of way – exactly like parodies of rich people speak, except with woofs. They sometimes have other animals in their yard but I think their tale of a family of small foxes that eats out of their hands and reads Martha Stewart Living to be entirely fabricated.
Alright, the reading part was perhaps uncharitable – but I spent the better part of two hours shifting on my feet, squinting at a hole about six feet away, being told I wasn’t looking hard enough. For the foxes. For the entire fox family, who enjoyed insouciantly popping out their furry little orange heads and blinking in the sunshine.