February 04, 2002

Lessons

My friend Phyllis is telling me a story, my ear drips with sweat it's been listening so long. I hear a thud, bump, thud outside. Damn dogs are playing rough again. They never shut up. Gotta let them in soon. "Huh, he said what to you? No frickin way. Come on." Half hour. Hour. "It's not you. No, you need to stop calling him. Just stop yourself," I tell her. Like she ever listens.

My mind drifts, half listening I wonder where my husband is playing tonight. Somewhere in Boston. Another gig I missed. I wish I were there. Feeling like a band widow and that sucks.

"What? No, you don't call him. You forget him, Phyllis."

Think back to the night I met him. I'd been watching a long time, secret groupie. Daughter of a bassist, looking for the deep dark rush of the low end. Found him when I least expected it. Or he found me.

Now two years later, we are married and in our first house together. Somethings don't change, like Phyllis and her man problems. The rest of my life is, and will remain, one guess at at time.

Finally she's done. We won't solve it on the phone tonight, but as usual, it doesn't stop us from trying.

"Okay, call me later." We always call each other later.

Upstairs I think, he must be back from the gig by now. I think I'll call. Lemme let the dogs in first, get ready for bed.

Nothing prepares me for the shock as I open the back door.

That sweet boy--the most lovable and intuitive of our two mutts--still and lifeless, a single link of his metal choke collar embedded in the fang of our problem dog, Ikea.

I stand there for what has to be a solid minute, bathing in the trauma. "NO!" I try desparately to untangle the choke colar from Ikea's fang. On the other end, Peanut flops lifeless. Ikea in a primal panic bolts and pulls, tighening the chain around his neck until I'm sure it will sever his head.

It doesn't matter. He's been dead for an hour.

These are the lessons we learn.

While we engage in the useless, the meaningless, the profound and often deadly is unfolding quietly just out of view.




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