Neighbour Favour

“I can’t believe this is what kept you up the other night. So simple: press buttons, make words.”

Fat sits beside me on the floor of the living room. I couldn’t get comfortable at the desk or on the couch, so we’ve found a good workspace on the floor. It took several cups of tea to work up the gumption to open my book. I haven’t worked on it in a long while; I feel like I’m starting from zero.

“It’s not just that, Fat.” My eyes digest a sentence. I press delete and write something else in its place. “It needs to be engaging, needs to have some intrigue and above all else,” I hit delete again, “it needs to make some fucking sense.”

“Let’s do something fun.”

“Fat, I’m not going to get distracted from actually working on this thing today.”

“But I’m so pretty. Pet me.” Fat rolls onto her side playfully.

A quick succession of raps on the door interrupts the writing process. My head and Fat’s head twist in succession to face the apartment door. At the sound of the knocking, Mutt goes crazy and yaps incessantly.

“You expecting somebody?” Fat’s eyes stay glued to the back of the door as if looking away will make the mystery guest disappear.

“Nope.” I push off the ground and slowly come to standing.

Fat holds up a paw, and points to her ear, indicating that I should mimic her. Her head tilts slightly sideways as she listens.

“Shh. Shh.” Whoever it is tries to silence Mutt’s barking.

“Weird.” I bend to pick up the porky dog and look through the door’s peephole. Jesse stands in the hallway, hands in his pockets and looking in the direction of his apartment down the hall. He’s wearing work clothes – must be on his way to the restaurant since he’s obviously not working on his game in server blacks.

“Hey,” Jesse drags out the vowel sound as I swing the door open.

I rest my hand on the doorknob and look to the approximate area of the door Jesse’s knuckles banged against. He’s never knocked on my door before; it’s foreign to me.

“What’s up?” I face him and an impish smile grows across his face.

He clasps his hands in front of his heart in a pleading manner. “I need a favour.”

Fat saunters over just in time to see Jesse stand on alert. A door opens near the end of the hall. His neck whips to see who is leaving which apartment; it’s the middle-aged single mom with the endless supply of kids on her way out. Jesse relaxes.

“I kind of brought a chick home last night and she’s still sleeping. I have to go to work.” He fishes an extra set of keys from his pocket and holds them up with feigned sweetness. “Could you be a dear and lock my place after you hear that crazy bitch leave?”

Fat pushes her way into the hall and plants herself at Jesse’s feet. “What’s in it for us?”

“Fat, shut up.” I hold a hand out for Jesse to drop his keys into my palm. “Sure, Jesse. No problem.”

“Ask him what her deal is.” Fat stares up at me wide-eyed and insistent. “Ask him. There’s got to be something up if he’s sneaking out and giving you keys to lock the door. If we’re setting a precedent for future behaviour, I want him to tell us the defect of every one-nighter we lock up after.”

Jesse stares down at Fat almost as though he can understand her too. “This one, always with the meowing, huh?”

“It’s a constant.” Fat catches my eye and nods her head in his direction. I smile and try not to act like I’m under the orders of the feline, “What’s the deal with her, anyways?” I nod in the direction of Jesse’s apartment.

“Super hot.”

“All the crazy ones are.” Fat talks over him as I shift Mutt’s weight to my other hand.

“But she’s looking for husband material. I shit you not, she went on for twenty-five minutes last night about the kind of wedding she plans on having and asking my opinion. I met her at a bar and it was a good idea to bring her home last night. This morning however…”

I try my best not to laugh right in his face, but Fat doesn’t spare Jesse’s feelings. Her laughing makes the inside of my chest rumble and I choke on the giggles as they force their way out.

“It’s not funny.” In spite of the sentence, Jesse cracks a smile.

Fat and I reply in unison, “It’s really funny.”

His voice turns to a whisper and he looks over his shoulder again to make sure he’s still in the clear. “Woman, you have to shut up or the crazy bitch will find us in the hallway and we’ll both be in for it.”

I salute with a smirk. “You can count on me, chief. I’ll lock your bad decision out of the building. But just so you know, my jurisdiction ends at your front door. If she doesn’t leave of her own free will, she’s your problem.”

“We don’t do exorcisms.” Fat chimes in and looks up to Jesse.

Jesse checks his phone, “Shit. I gotta go. Thanks. I owe you big time.” He takes off, tiptoeing past his own door on the way out.

“Funny one, that one.” Fat struts back into the living room and resumes her spot on the floor.

“Sure is.” I put Mutt on the ground and go sit next to Fat on the floor in front of my computer.

I resume my reading and manage to put in a few edits before we hear a door shut in the hallway. Fat and I both perk up and look at each other with delight.

“You think that’s her?”

“Think we can get a glimpse of her before she leaves?” Fat and I race to the hall door seconds too late. The door to the stairs was just shutting behind her.

“The balcony!” Fat runs in front of me and we go out on the balcony to see if we can get a glimpse of what hot/crazy looks like. We only catch the back half of her walk of shame as she stumbles away from the building.

Fat smirks, “Remember that time you said you wouldn’t get distracted from your writing?”

Warning: Finger Pistols Don’t Shoot Blanks

“Are those your metaphoric brains all over the cork board and running down the wall?”

Fat leaps up onto the desk and regards my idea board littered with scribbled-on cue cards and pictures of inspiration. Like a CSI agent, Fat assesses the imaginary damage. With the intense scrutiny she displays, I would swear that she was actually investigating the devastation done to my hypothalamus. The feline offers me what appears to be a look of pity when she gazes higher and discovers imaginary traces of what used to be my cerebral cortex.

It’s my own fault. Nobody forced me to pretend my hand was a gun, put the finger barrel to my temple and make a gunfire noise. There was no other way to deal with the frustration. I’ve been in the same position since the imaginary pistol went off. Ass in the computer chair, head leaning so far forward it rests on the desk. Eyes unfocused, it appears that I’m staring in the direction of the window. Sunlight drifts in casually – atypical for Vancouver. Today I miss the rain. It’s rather unfair that weather in movies always aligns perfectly to the protagonist’s mood.

“Are you still moping over the finale of How I Met Your Mother? Time to get over it, boss.”

Fat’s so invested in what’s going on with my imagination, she actually leans down to sniff at my hallucination of what I’m pretty certain is a mixture of broken skull and cerebellum. My coordination prior to the incident just goes to show that my cerebellum was defective anyways. I might be better off without it.

I don’t answer her and continue my empty stare at nothing. It’s not what’s in front of my eyeballs that holds my concentration. There are some things that need figuring out and I’m stuck in the haze about how to solve anything.

Fat, disinclined to leave anything be, walks over to my computer and stares at the screen. She reads the few words that I’ve written thus far. All I have to do is wait.

The feline clears her throat daintily.

“You stopped writing mid-sentence. You going to finish that thought?”

I don’t move, I’m still fixated on the search for the right words. The ones that came out of my fingertips are all wrong. They’re not the words I should be writing. I just have to figure out what I’m feeling before I can convey the emotion properly on paper.

I feel her green eyes searching my face for some kind of response.

“I know you want to be left alone. I get the impression if I attempt to get you to open up I’m going to regret it.”

“Yup.”

“No matter, I’ve got an elegant solution.”

I hear her press a button on laptop and my attention shifts. She’s added a period to transform my half-sentence into a fragment. That might be overly complimentary to the swill that I ditched like an unwanted pregnancy.

“That’s still not a sentence, idiot.”

“I’m not finished, Cruella.” I hate when she calls me that.

My cheek rests against the desk and I watch her hit the same button again and again.

“An ellipsis?” My stomach growls on my behalf.

“There’s more to come. When you’re ready, of course.” Without any harassment, Fat jumps down and scuttles over to the television stand. She drops to her belly and crawls like a marine underneath it. Her voice calls from under the wood stand, “Don’t think about it so much. You’ll figure it out. You always do.”

It might not be raining, but this might have been better…

Both Personalities and a Mountain of Drugs

“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.

“Huh?”

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.”