There and Back and None the Saner

“Did Mutt serve as a pack mule for your travels?”

Fat has a brief moment to spy the mud-spattered dog before he charges into the apartment leaving me in the hall with my bag of dirty laundry and his bag of prescriptions, food and toys. I honestly think I packed more stuff for Mutt than myself. By the time I lazily kick the bags into the apartment and shut the door, Mutt has Fat pinned on the carpet. Her back legs kick out in protest as he chews on her ear.

“He’s happy to see me. Why is he happy to see me?”  Fat’s grey face pokes out from being smothered by Mutt’s cream-coloured fur. “Get this thing off of me. Get him off.” Urgency fills her sentences and the good doctor sounds on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

My hands grab around the dried mud of Mutt’s hind legs and I propel him off Fat with a wheelbarrow manoeuvre. Mutt’s face turns over his shoulder, giving me a look of pathetic misunderstanding as to why his front legs keep getting forced forward in awkward steps. He then sees his travel bag of goodies tipped over in the hall and he dashes out of my grasp to chew on his stuffed alien dog.

“Fat, don’t deny his affection. You should be grateful that somebody in this apartment cares so much about you.” I pull off my hoodie and drop it on the hall table. “How did things go well I was away.”

“How did it go?” Fat slowly repeats the question to buy herself time to remember. “I watched that movie Bernie – I dare say it is Jack Black at his finest, I had a sleepover with my cuddle buddy on Saturday – I didn’t think you would mind. Oh. And I spent the entire weekend drinking out of the toilet.” She smiles at me, but it doesn’t appear to be a happy smile.

“Why did you–”

“It’s a whole thing and I don’t want to get into it. Just for the record, you are never to leave me again, okay?” It’s phrased like a question, but this is clearly a demand. Fat, annoyed, licks her paw and attempts to remove traces of Mutt’s saliva from her fur. She shoots me a quick glance. “At least you seem to be doing better. You’re not wearing that stress all over your face. I trust that your trip to the home land served you well.” Fat scowls as she brushes flecks of dry mud from her fur. “Seriously, where did this come from?”

“We went for a hike with my parents before we drove home.” I press the dark pink colour on my shoulder, watch the patch of skin turn momentarily white and then turn pink again.

The feline lets out an obnoxious, insincere laugh that comes to a halt when she sees my sunburnt arms. “I’m sorry. You said hike and I thought it was a joke. You don’t hike.”

“I think I might start… I liked it.” Though, I might consider sunscreen on my next time out to change it up a bit.

Fat seems to have completely forgotten about cleaning her fur. She assesses me for sincerity and the pause in conversation stretches out into sixteen hours. “No you didn’t. You just think you did. I’d bet many dollars that you’ll drop this idea of wanting to be a hiker within a week. I’ve heard stories of your parents – howling at the moon types that they are. Frankly, you probably only liked this morning’s hike because you were still drunk from the night before.”

“You can’t prove that.” The fact that we were up until almost sunrise drinking and shooting pool the night previous is only further evidence to her claims. I keep that information inside my head and smile. I love my parents. They’re a couple of rock stars.

“We’ll see, boss. You’re more of a sayer than a doer. And those times you are a doer, it’s usually done half-assed on the effort scale.”

“I beg your pardon?” Instant rage fills me, then subsides when I decide that I need a shower. Also, I’m kind of hungry. I might want some tea and some quiet time on the couch reading. My thoughts go full circle until I’m back at my stance of being offended.

“Boss. Really?” Fat rolls her eyes, catches sight of the dog as she does so and then looks disgusted. “You even dropped the ball on going on an actual vacation. You were talking about that months ago. You were talking about going to Ontario.”

Oh yeah. I forgot about that.

“Maybe it’s not my fault that I’m a sayer and not a doer. I have intentions, but I lack the memory to remind myself to see things through. Fat, after I shower, I’m going to start doing some things.” I wander into the bathroom and turn on the water.

I can hear Fat still talking in the hallway.

“Do what you want. However, you won’t be going on that vacation. Did you not hear me say you’re never leaving me again?”

Write and Wrong

Tombs, hidden in plain sig[=/o0n tc w\`…

“You couldn’t walk around the keyboard? There’s plenty of desk for your heftiness.” I click backspace, punching the button with deliberate distaste to punctuate each character I delete.

“Would you have paid attention to me otherwise?” Fat rubs the corner of her mouth on the corner of the laptop screen. She tilts her head to read the words upside down; her lips move as she deciphers the story from her vantage point. She slowly turns to look at me. “I’ve read this before. Well,” she confirms with the word document before she firmly decides, “more or less. A different version, perhaps?”

“Yeah. You have.” I flip through the notebook full of scribbles of additions and facts that need to be rechecked. The pen beside the book beckons for me to change something. Instead, I recline in the office chair and fold my hands on my lap.

“Been working on it for a while, haven’t we?” Fat shuffles her lumpy ass around so she can sit and read the screen properly.

My ribcage squeezes my vital organs as she reads the page. I look out the window, then at the mess in the kitchen, to the corkboard full of notes. I have no rebuttal, so I stay quiet and fidget uncontrollably.

What feels like forty minutes goes by before she clears her throat. “You realize that at a certain point you just have to let it go; editors exist for a reason. Why haven’t you tried harder to get this published?”

“I don’t know. I’m busy.” I hear the flimsy excuse and curse myself for not being a better liar.

“Bitch, please. You’re more of a pussy than I am. It’s what you want to do, isn’t it? Grow a pair and make it happen, boss.” Fat smirks, “Busy. You’re hilarious.” Fat jumps, landing on the carpet softly. “Keep me abreast of your non-progress, okay, sunshine?”

A Metaphor Instead of Soup Stock

“It worries me that you have in-home carcass storage.” Fat eyes the freezer-burnt contents of the Ziploc bag in my hand.

The freezer door stays open, cooling the cramped kitchen while Fat and I investigate the aged food inside. I grip the mystery animal’s ribs like I’m holding a baby in a sagging diaper. “Me too. I think at one point this was some kind of bird.”

“Can I have it?”

I answer with a look of disgusted judgement. The coldness becomes unbearable to hold onto, I pivot at the waist and release the expired poultry into the already half-full trash bag on the floor. “Not sure why ex-boyfriend kept this.”

“To make his own soup stock, moron.” Fat starts to roll her eyes and happens upon another thought before the eye roll can have the desired effect. “Unless he was planning on using it to put some kind of voodoo whammy on you. I wonder if that works.” Fat’s feet pad silently on the kitchen floor as she goes to examine the bag of frozen meat. She lifts her chin to look up at me. “I’m sorry, I still don’t entirely understand what’s going on here.”

“I’m trying to make rice again.” I point to the pot on the stove; the lid is covered in condensation. “I’ve decided that things go awry in the kitchen because I cook with a crock pot mentality – throw it in a pot and let it take care of itself for six hours. So now,” I reach into the almost-empty freezer, “I’m staying in the kitchen to make sure I don’t fuck it up again. Figured since I was here I’d finally clean out the cupboards and freezer.” I pull out another Ziploc bag, this one with only two frozen hot dogs and toss it instantly into the black plastic bag.

Fat leers at the bag. “What are those Ziploc bags near the bottom? I didn’t see you toss those out.”

I crane my neck to see what she’s referring to. “Ah. The mystery spices. The ex didn’t have an idiot-friendly system. Don’t.” I hold up my index finger to stop her insult before it finds a voice. “They’re all unlabeled in plastic bags. I can’t tell the cinnamon from the paprika. It was either garbage or spice roulette. I don’t gamble on things I know nothing about.”

“Please. You would get the cinnamon confused with dill.”

My eyebrows lower. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

There are two plastic-wrapped mounds labelled “stew beef” that I pull out last. They’re almost black. Two sturdy clunking sounds engulf the kitchen when they join the others in the trash bag.

Fat jumps up on the counter and stares into the freezer. “So you’re left with an empty ice cube tray and some kind of fish. Can I have that?”

I shake my head. “Of course no–”

“–Tell me that smell is your burning loins.” Fat interrupts. Her tiny nose twitches as she traces the scent.

“Shit.” I race to the stove and pull the lid off the pot. The edges of the rice lining the pot are charred and crisp. “How did this happen? I was in the kitchen the whole time.”

“You honestly have no idea how cooking works, do you?” We lock eyes, and I see something on her face that can actually be construed as pity. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll eventually find something you’re good at. With the likely chance you won’t, have you ever considered marrying for money?”