Sunshine likes dogs

A very short story

Miss Nutjob’s not hurting anyone there on the library steps. Big old headphones on, she’s absorbed with angling the long-ass antenna on her 70’s-throwback radio to better receive — what? Police chatter? Alien signals? Breaking news that her brain is crap? WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS HERE, YOU FUCKING NUTJOB?

“Easy, now. She has a mom,” points out Sunshine In My Head.

Not true. Not if her mom’s dead.

“Now, now. Once upon a time, Miss Nutjob was someone’s precious little baby,” says Sunshine In My Head.

Fine. I shake it off and push on the glass library door just as a homeless fuck on the other side does the same. BA-BONK: our shoulders both hit the glass. I back off; he backs off. And this irritates me even more, as does his homelessness, the heavy books in my arms, the cars driving past and every molecule of every single thing, everywhere.

Sunshine In My Head soothes, “Send him a prayer. There but for the grace of God go you.”

God: watch over this fuck who could be me if I were homeless and a man. Homeless and a man with ground-in neck dirt.

Homeless Fuck and I switch places despite the mad mumbling — mine. He glances up as he nears me, till I pierce his skull with my eyes. That’s right: I was mumbling a prayer about neck dirt. What’re you gonna do about it?

Lope away like a scared dog, apparently.

I’m here to replace the kids’ reading materials and hence not be the most ghetto mom in the neighborhood.

“Yes! What you’re doing for your children is wonderful,” croons Sunshine. “Instill that love of reading. Good for you!”

Yes, good for me for I am goddamn mother of the year.

I dump twelve books in the return slot, walk soundlessly through the carpeted lobby — ooh. DVDs. Sure, I’ll check. But it’s never in.

And yet, here it is on the shelf: “101 Dalmations.” Not the dumbass live-action one. The sweet animated original for my little animal lover.

I smile at the thing like it’s my exquisite kid, like I hope she smiles when she sees it.

“Swell,” I say. Out loud. Oops. Hipster College Girl at a corner table lifts her gaze from her laptop. NO, I will not acknowledge that I know you heard me. Nor will I hate you for it, Hipster. For I am EVOLVED, yo. Enjoy the enigmatic side of my face, for that is all I shall give you. Ha-HA!

I take the DVD and a handful of graphic novels, easy-readers and ghost-stories to the new-fangled super-wack self-checkout. This shit has been upgraded again since last week.

Putting a human out of work, probably.

“You don’t know that,” says Sunshine. You have a point, Sunshine. Or I’m malnourished.

The library courtyard features a shiny café, a man-made stream and scores of clean, available tables. The prices don’t suck and neither does the lentil soup.

Sitting in the dappled sunlight with my bowl of sustenance, I perceive an inner unclenching. A warmth. Let’s not go overboard and call it joy. Maybe a Lack of Wretchedness.

As I entertain the Lack of Wretchedness notion, a glob of lentil soup falls to my knee and stains my jeans.

To comfort myself, I reserve the right to overreact. But this stain looks like Jesus. So I also reserve the right to sell these jeans for eighty grand on Ebay.

In the car, books piled on the passenger seat, I pull up next to a red Cabriolet at the light. Riding shotgun, two feet from my open car window, is a sweet-faced Dalmatian.

What are the chances?

“Hi, cutie,” I venture. The pooch sleepily swings her spotted nose my way. Her Mama turns to me from the driver’s seat and unleashes a mammoth grin.

I wrest the “101 Dalmatians” DVD out from under the clump of books as the light changes and Mama zips off, the dog instinctively bracing herself. A mild disappointment, but here’s another chance, another red light as the Cabriolet and I drift to a stop, side by side.

Mama lifts doggie’s paw to wave hello to me. I wave back and flash my “101 Dalmatians” DVD at her. Mama guffaws — WOW. She’s so loud, she sounds like two people.

Because it IS two — Mama and me. Sitting at the light, as her precious little dog-face grins, we are noisily cracking ourselves and each other up.

Or… Sunshine: is that you laughing with the Dalmatian’s Mama?

“Yes. Yes, it is,” smiles Sunshine.

And, thank you, God: she didn’t answer out loud.