Hungry and late I pedalled furiously down 10th ave. Thoughts of burritos and beer swirled in front of my eyes and I barely caught sight of you coming towards me a few metres ahead, flipping over your handlebars and sliding over the rough asphalt on your face. When I reached you your eyes fluttered open and you began to gasp violently, your lungs scraping and scrounging for air. By then your friend had caught up, tossed his bike by mine and we asked you various questions regarding your health. You looked annoyed when I asked if your head was okay as blood steadily leaked from its temple. Eventually your breathing became more regular, you rose to your feet and the blood dried in an almost graceful, serpentine pattern down your face. It reminded me of spaghetti noodles bathed in marinara sauce. My hunger reared itself again and I checked one more time if you were alright before taking off towards my original concern.
Struggling to doggy-paddle in the twilight of another beautiful summer day, I moved the ocean water around me as casually as I could as to not let onto my slightly less than average swimming ability. My toes stretched downwards, naively looking for any available surface, while I looked to the beach; where without my glasses I couldn’t tell if the unknown blurry people in the distance were going through our blurry backpacks or their own. I didn’t want to mention it in fear of sounding paranoid and I didn’t want to swim back to shore after we’d spent such a brief time in the water.
It was then that I made the decision to trust in humanity. To trust that they weren’t stealing my cellphone or underpants, kicking sand onto the rim of my cider or causing the bookmark to fall out of the collection of David Foster Wallace essays that I’d been not reading for weeks with all of their potential rummaging. It felt good to trust. Then I noticed our bags a few metres to the right and let out a sigh of relief–in turn taking in a mouthful of salt water.
The conversation quickly turned from Kurt Vile to whatever the approaching clack-clacking noise was. I swivelled around in my vantage from the first-floor apartment’s patio and saw you stagger nearer and nearer, a handful of smooth stones held out as if you were serving hors d’oeuvres. We complimented your rocks and the beat you were keeping by smashing them together. You seemed to take offence to this and held a large, dark grey one by your ear; cocked and ready to fire. “Want me to rock you? Huh?” I almost laughed at the slurred-word play but looked nervously to the large, glass patio door instead. We did not want to be rocked.
We asked if you were okay. Within seconds you were over the small concrete wall dividing us from the lawn, sitting in a chair opposite me and weeping. You mumbled to us of turmoil in the motherland, the death of your brothers and the demise of your marriage and business. All we could offer was “it’ll get better”, “you just need to sleep this off” and a glass of water. Once you’d calmed down enough you agreed to let us walk you home. As we made our way back to the apartment I wished I hadn’t said what I did. I had no idea if things would get better.
It was apparent as soon as you bounced by, sniffing the grass around our blanket and looking longingly at a butterfly that rose and spiraled through the air, that you were only here because of how cute you are. You were helpless without a human. In the wild a cougar, coyote or possibly even a skunk if it was bored, could easily catch you and separate the soft cushion of fur from your flanks. I imagined myself lost in the woods with a wild patchy beard, starving and limping due to a gangrenous foot and still able to snatch you up with relative ease. But as I looked into your dark, watery eyes it all made sense. You were loving, kind and adorable in a way that could make murderers swoon. Even Queen Victoria endorsed you. You were bred as a companion and you were good at it. But to be clear, I’d still eat you if I were lost in the woods.
After you forcefully ushered the first potential stage diver back into the crowd it was apparent that you weren’t fucking around. No mercy. Your ponytail was like a battle flag flapping proud through the smog of war. Another shortsighted youngster hopped to the stage and did a little dance for the bassist before you pounced. He was in a headlock tight enough to castrate a bull. Then Mac, the guitarist, the lead singer, the reason the hundreds of us were here, tried to separate what I assumed was pent up anger due to an unfulfilling childhood from the child who wriggled in your grasp. You pushed him in the neck with your forearm and cocked your right hand as if to swing. The crowd hissed violently. Your employers groaned just as loud. You left the stage furious and I didn’t see you for the rest of the night. I imagine you spent the remainder of the evening lost, looking for your job.