The alarm went off YAAAAAAAAAAAH in the manner of alarms and both Sid and I jolted awake, looking for the fiiiiiire—and then stared at each other wildly in that wow, what was I drinking last night way. Then we both remembered. “It’s okay,” I said. “You can stay for breakfast. Supposing I can think of what to feed you.” She lay down again. I moaned my way out of bed and found last night’s clean clothes to put on. And the last several days’ jeans and sweater. Black jeans are black jeans but I was really tired of this sweater, faithful uncomplaining minion that it was. It was also grey and brown, suitable for recent events, but if I didn’t get a hot pink and/or sequins fix soon I would go into meltdown.
I checked myself quickly for fleabites and didn’t find any. Ringworm would take a few days to come out, if it was going to. I opened the curtains and scanned the sky anxiously: blue and clear. It had been raining some of my last day in Manhattan, but I was loading the van via freight elevator and basement parking garage. Hauling cardboard boxes and a small two-seater sofa up a steep flight of steps in the pouring rain was not an attractive prospect. My rose bush might like it however. She was looking a little overwhelmed by the vehicular array facing her . . . but she also definitely had a couple more leaves out.
I turned around and looked at the black thing lying on my bed. From what I could see of her coat and skin they looked in pretty good shape. I would know better what I was getting into (or rather had apparently already gotten into) once I’d bought a brush and attempted to wield it. Heavy emphasis on the ‘attempt’. Not all dogs take to being groomed. I had the scars to show for it. Chan Two won almost every class my mother took her in and she was unrelentingly charming to judges but she took out her performance nerves on the backstage staff, which tended to be me.
When I started rummaging through the shopping bags that had produced bread and tuna the night before I heard Sid sitting up. Breakfast was clearly on the agenda then. I spared a disconsolate thought about my own breakfast. I had been looking forward to another Eatsathon on my way to pick up the keys to my new house.
To Rose Manor. To my house.
That I had a house and a car-substitute before the van went away was clearly (clearly! Clearly! I did not have PATHETIC tattooed on my forehead! Gelasio’s whereabouts, with or without attendant floozie, were of no interest whatsoever! I was an operative adult human being—with only two overdue book contracts!) a good thing but I was getting a little ahead of myself with Sid. The Silent Wonder Dog could have waited till I moved in and found out, for example, if some of the jungle in the back was fenced in well enough to have a dog loose in it, and to go to the pet shop and buy suitable accoutrements (and food) after I’d chosen my canine companion but while the pound held the actual dog for me. I looked at the ingredients on the can of hash. Mostly beef and potatoes. The odd bit of bay leaf and oregano wouldn’t hurt her. Pet shop first. I needed a collar and lead to take her to the vet’s, as well as dog food. Supposing the sight of collar and lead didn’t bring on the psychotic breaks that were the reason she wasn’t still with her previous human. The collar would give me some options when she objected to being brushed too. I sighed.
I had been concentrating a little hard on the variety of tactical problems immediately before me and hadn’t heard her get off the bed but—sitting on the floor staring at a tin of hash—I suddenly had a dog nose in my ear. It whuffled. And I found that there were tears running down my face. “Crap,” I said, or rather wept. “Crap crap crap crap and—and—and ringworm. And warts.” What was I just telling myself about being an operative adult human being (overdue book contracts optional)? Nose of dog moved from my ear and tongue of dog began licking my face. She had sweet clean breath, which was a good sign for her state of health. Mine however . . . I cried harder. I had to put the hash down. Sid climbed into my lap, or at least the front half of her did, and lay down. When she then laid her chin on the can of hash, I started to laugh. I would be hysterical in a minute. Arrrrgh. I petted the dog in my lap. Her fur really was silky, despite the dirt and tangles. She would be a seriously hedonistic stroking experience as soon as I got her washed and combed. And fed up a little. She was also nothing but hair and skeleton. This hadn’t been so obvious from the tummy view last night. She needed her breakfast. Come on, Macfarquhar, function.
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