A quarter inch of cold coffee on a layer of runny grounds. The gritty glass of an unclean French press is a hateful thing. The smell of stale brew triggers her voice in my head: I’ll take care of it when I get home tonight.
You know what, Clara, I would really like a cup right now. A whole pot — a steel vat of coffee. Maybe another cigarette before the kid gets here.
We’d been walking to Starbucks when the Radio Shack’s plate window burst unexpectedly, Pepper and I were underneath. He caught the larger, heavier piece — proportionally speaking. A burly man leapt off the sidewalk into the road, and bellowed his surprise. He put one hand over his mouth and pulled down on his beard with one hand, the other was pointing at Clara’s dog. As if she had it waiting, a woman rushed at me with a sweatshirt from her child’s stroller.
To be honest he only looked dazed — I mean sure, he didn’t try to stand up right away and there was a lot of blood in his fur, but I was baffled at how quick people would spring to action over a gored terrier. Then again, I might have been stunned, standing there amidst the glass dust, unlit cigarette between my fingers and the limp, braided leash tying me to my girlfriend’s dog. Can’t say I remember if anyone checked to see me that I was okay.
The woman unhooked Pepper from his collar and tried to put the swaddled dog in my arms, but I backed away. The surprisingly bloody pile was struggling now, and whimpering too.
“Take him — what are you doing?”, but I turned around with my hands in my hair. She spun around with the dog kept tight to her chest, “Can somebody take this dog to a vet?” Her ugly baby boy cried from the stroller.
When nobody answered she screwed up her face and turning back to me, told me not to look so inconvenienced. She asked me if I wanted her to call anybody and the manager from the store offered the phone inside but I told him it wasn’t necessary. I yanked Pepper from her, and whispering apologies through the blanket, walked home.
He died on the way, and now I have to decide whether to bury him before the kids get off the bus, or keep him in the garage wrapped in the sweater until after everyone leaves tomorrow morning. This is my life.
Either way I will not be cleaning up that god damned sink after Clara as a matter of principle — this mess is exactly the sort of thing I sought to avoid — I can still run to Starbucks quick, before the kid gets here.
Tomorrow I’ll get a normal coffee maker with an automatic timer. I saw one with a steam diverter for cappuccinos at the store when I first moved in. That’ll make her feel better.