My phone rang and when I answered it was a man on the other end of the line. He sounded tall, angry and spoke of things that weren’t particularly nice and that were about to happen to me, imminently.
‘Wait a fucking minute!’ I shouted ‘Who the fuck is this?!’
‘I’m Maria’s brother.’
Ah right. Things had ended badly with her, she was cock crazed, needy and apparently, willing to set her brother on me. He was in the military but one night over drinks she told me that he wasn’t even a soldier, he was a chef.
‘You better watch your fucking back you fucking Irish prick…’
‘Don’t you fucking threaten me you cunt, you might be army but we kill army.’ I spat, having never involved myself in the bullshit of my motherland I suddenly found myself more than happy to bask in it. Such a fickle little brat. ‘You want to start some shit be my guest…’
After a little shouting on each end of the patchy AT&T cellular line I gave him my address, unlocked the door and sat waiting in the living room for the inevitable appearance of the brother. I had never heard of a relationship that ended any way other than badly. It made me wonder why, as a species, we hadn’t died out or figured a way to reproduce asexually. But how we needed the big O, the touch of another, the vanity of being wanted. The clock rounded the hour. I was getting bored so I grabbed a beer from the fridge and took the pug outside for her nightly business. Sniffing around she pee’d in the same spot she had struck that morning, and the previous night, and the previous morning. The once rich green patch of turf scorched to a brown deathly weed.
Back in the living room I checked my phone, no missed calls, no new messages. Thumbing into the call log I checked the time of the incoming duel. He was late. He had said he was with Maria and was coming straight to me. Chef Boyo should have been with me now, slugs should have been exchanged, a victor announced before the police rolled up and took us both in. Nothing. Impatiently I stuck in a DVD, broke open another beer and rolled myself a joint to silence my tourette-spitting mind. Setting the tip of the rolled paper alight I inhaled deep. I checked the clock. Very late. Getting to my feet I lifted some weights, working my arms, pumping them up for powerful bursts of usage, woke them for work. The army chef invading my abode through modern technology, threatening me, trying to put the fear of God into me, intimidating me in my own living room, the cheek. He’d get his.
I finished the cigarette.
No sign of the chef.
I considered phoning him again, asking him where he was, offering him traffic advice on the best way to get here.
‘You don’t want to do that.’ the dog said, looking up at me from under her ruffled fawn wrinkle.
‘What do you know about it?’
‘I know enough to know that you’re meant to let sleeping dogs lie.’
‘How long have you been waiting to say that?’
‘A few weeks.’ yawned the pug rolling on to her back stretching all four paws towards the heavens.
I lit a cigarette and took a hit, the adrenaline had been coursing around my body for, I check the clock, over an hour and a half. Now it was beginning to drip from my finger tips and my eyes suddenly felt sore and misshapen in their sockets. Reaching down to the dog I scratched her behind her black velvet ear making her grumble with contentment.
‘You look tired.’
‘I am tired.’ I replied, smoking with one hand while petting the dog with the other.
‘Don’t you worry about lung cancer?’ she asked.
‘If I started worrying I don’t think I’d know where to stop. You know I found a lump in my balls.’
‘I thought I smelt that.’
My heart raced to my throat, my anatomy was threatening to turn me inside out as my pulse shot to over one hundred and fifty and I realised that my dog, my little pug could probably answer the question that’s on my mind.
‘Is it, is it cancer?’
‘How should I know?’
‘You just said I thought I smelt that.’
‘That doesn’t mean it’s cancer.’ she replied chewing on her inside claws.
‘What does it mean?’
‘It means you should probably have someone look at it.’
‘I don’t have health insurance.’
‘Maybe you should try and date yourself a nurse, instead of strippers and bored housewives.’
I rolled myself another MJ and put it to my lips, grumping to herself the little barrel chested princess got to her feet and click, click, clicked across the room setting herself down by the backdoor. She looked at me sorrowfully with her dark chocolate eyes. Smoking the joint my throat dried and cracked and I stubbed it out before the fear of throat cancer took hold but my head was beginning to swim and soon the idea of the big C echoed through my dome like I’d sunk my head into a bucket.
‘Crack a window.’ the pug said.
‘Could you crack a window? I’m small, I can’t take that stink as easily as you can. Do we have any chips?’
Walking across the room I crack a window, the cool air soothing the small claustrophobic room.
‘Why don’t you lock the door, turn that DVD off and go to bed?’
‘I don’t want him thinking I’m chicken.’
‘How bad can chicken be?’
‘Chicken is bad, chicken is as bad as cancer.’
The dog lapped at her water with her long pink tongue. ‘So what? So you have him come over, you beat him up and send him back to Maria. Give her another reason to hate you.’
‘That’s the plan.’ I snort puffing out my chest.
‘That’s a terrible plan. After what you did to her the least you can do is take a pounding from him, it’ll make them both feel better.’
‘I won’t feel better, and what do you mean after what I did to her?! She tried to cut my throat.’
‘She told you she loved you.’
‘After two dates.’
‘And you’re talking to a dog.’
Touché, smart little bitch.
‘Well you started it.’ I walked to the window, pulling back the blinds and watched as a set of headlights burned brightly in the night sky, drawing closer and closer before turning by the apartment and off into the distance, towards a destination elsewhere. I looked to the clock again, it’s rounded on another hour. I sighed with fatigue as the last of the adrenaline falls from my bones and I’m left listless, limp and a little rejected.
‘He’s not coming.’ she sighed, curling up in her bed.
‘You don’t know that.’
to in late
night traffic does not take two hours.’
‘Yeah,’ I conceded ‘you’re probably right.’
‘Take it from me, you’re better off leaving it be. She’s going to hate you regardless, leave her to her anger. It’s all you’ve ever offered her unconditionally.’
As I nodded, my jaw stretched and an enormous yawn birthed itself from deep within my soul. The hinge of my face, burdened by its girth, ached. Moments later with my eyes watering it returns to its resting position and I’m done. Closing the window I flick the latch on the front door, turn the DVD off, drop to one knee and plant a kiss on top of the soft little furry head that smells like popcorn, always.I curled up in bed on my side, placing a hand between my legs to stop them from crushing my lumpy balls.
Advice from a Dog and other stories for misfits are part of Chase The Moon: Issue One and available to buy [here: US] [here: UK].