“Whatcha got there? Groceries for the week?”
Pinched in between my thumb and index finger is a white paper bag with a pharmacy sticker sealing it shut. “You can’t be serious. How does this read as anything but clinical?” I tear into the bag with vigor that drops a small box of maropitant citrate tablets and a bottle of sulcrate suspension on the ground. Another pill bottle, small box and liquid administrators land on the counter.
Fat hustles over to sniff the box of tablets. “This is like the best piñata I’ve ever seen.”
“Don’t. Those aren’t for you, Fat.” I swipe both fallen meds off the floor.
She frowns. “I just want to bat them around a little. I like that the pill bottles sound like maracas.”
Out of habit, I look at the wall where a calendar used to hang. “What’s with the references? Is it Cinco de Mayo?”
“What’s the deal? Finally go see a shrink that is able to prescribe medication to you over the table?” Fat’s tone is a hybrid of judgemental and hurt.
Frustrated, I puff out the air in my lungs to quietly vent my annoyance. “You never listen to me, do you? Mutt has pancreatitis and this cocktail,” I display the drugs like an old school Barker Beauty, “is his new best friend.”
“I thought I was his best friend,” Fat mumbles to herself as she leaves the kitchen to jump onto the office chair.
Fat scowls. “Was I talking to you? No. I was talking to myself.” Her eyes narrow into an angry squint, “Mind your business, bitch.”
“Christ, Fat.” My hands lift up as I resign from the conversation, “Calm down.”
I grab Mutt’s epilepsy medications and add them to the new arsenal. This dog’s collection rivals any pharmacy. I read the labels and arrange them into an order that will help me administer them properly.
It’s a damn math problem: Two medications have to be taken every eight hours but one on a full stomach and one on an empty one. Two meds every twelve hours on a full stomach, another one first thing in the morning also on a full stomach and the last one every nine hours. In making sure Mutt gets all the required medication, solve the rate of next-morning pleasantness. If this were actually a math problem, there would be grey eraser streaks all over the place. Thankfully it’s a take-home test and I have time to figure it out.
“You look like your mother when you make your thinking face.”
The air in my mouth pushes from my left cheek to the right as I concentrate; I turn to the side and see that Fat once again has an approachable demeanor.
“Henry Jekyll, you old sod. How are you?”
“That’s Doctor to you.” Fat actually breaks out a smile as we fall into the familiar routine.
“My mistake.” I run my fingers through my hair, and though I wrestle with knowing how this will turn out, I can’t help the words that come out of my mouth. “Can I ask you something?”
Fat’s forehead rises with intrigue. “Are we turning this into a session?”
“No.” My right hand shoots up like I’m a traffic cop forcing cars to slam on their brakes. “I’m just spitballing here, but,” just thinking about it makes my chest tighten, “where does one draw the line when it comes to Mutt’s health?” My throat becomes a desert that words have to cross; they barely make it. “This isn’t exactly a lifestyle choice.” I nod with my head to the collection of medications sitting on the counter.
“Maybe not for you.”
“Fat.” The heaviness of her name brings her around to answering my question.
“Angel of Death is the role of a lifetime for you,” Fat sees that I want to interject. “Let me finish. Providing you don’t have to pull the cord, as it were, on one of the few people or animals you’re emotionally tied to. Anybody else, fuck, they’re dead the moment they have the sniffles.”
I look at the backwards clock, time to go grab Mutt from the vet. “So what do you suggest I do?”
“Easy,” Fat’s smile changes from sweet to sociopathic, “Let me be the Angel of Death.”
“Edward Hyde. Welcome back.”