The richest girl in town. (fightingwords) wrote,
The richest girl in town.
fightingwords

The best laid plans of mice and yada yada.

The holiday weekend was nice, but as usual, three-day weekends mean four-day work weeks. Which is fine, if you don't still have five days' worth of work to do. And I did. I have a new manager, as I've mentioned before, and our first one-on-one was last Friday--the only negative feedback? "You don't say 'no' enough." This is easily evidenced by the fact that I produced all four of the new games we're launching on the site Tuesday--and I made it happen during a short week.

But aside from work, it was a busy week anyway--I had an assignment, non work-related, that I needed to finish, and which I dreaded working on, and which I couldn't corral myself to work on until the last possible moment. (Woo hoo, self-sabotage!) I'd wanted to see Rayna and Martin Thursday night, but it didn't happen--instead I sat at home alternately surfing the web, playing Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, and staring at a blank page in Microsoft Word, trying to will the screen to fill with all sorts of impressive wit and wisdom. It didn't work; after the internet died (the puppy upstairs apparently unplugged my router), I passed out on my laptop. I guess I just don't have whatever it is I had during college that allowed for all-nighters to be productive.

And then there was the reading I was supposed to do last night--Working for the Weakened, an SF in Exile show. I stressed over what to read--eventually hauling out a post I made a couple years back about working on The Sims 2. I edited that a bit, found some poems and a short story. By the time 6:30 rolled around yesterday, I'd finally finished my assignment and had printed out my pieces, was ready to jet from my office to get some food, and head to the Jon Sims Center for the reading.

Well.

It didn't happen.

Just as I was getting everything I needed together, my cell phone rang. It was Molly, my landladyfriend who lives upstairs:

"Lauren, Java's hurt. There's blood all over the backyard. It's... everywhere. Looks like her foot."

When I got to my place, my kitchen was a scene from a horror film. The blood was so thick, you couldn't tell they were all paw prints. There was a two-foot swath of blood in front of the sink. And there, in the back, was the culprit--a broken pane of glass in the French door. Outside, bloody paw prints everywhere--all over the patio, all up and down the stairs to the deck above. Up there, pools of blood. And Java, wagging but sluggish, the little boxer puppy happily jumping all over her, and Molly and Chris looking shaken.

Java the Mutt apparently really wanted to get outside to play with Maddy the boxer, or perhaps really wanted to get inside to get away from her--I couldn't tell as there was so much glass and blood on both sides of the door. More disturbing than her having put her paw through the window was that her body had followed it at least once--a couple of jagged, evil shards were still in place. She easily could have decapitated herself.

I took her to the vet, where she was entertaining--Java's always in high spirits, even when she's injured and covered with blood. "You dumbass," I kept saying--I mean, this is the dog who adopted me by running in front of my car--twice; who sliced her face open climbing through chicken wire to escape a backyard; who broke a tooth ramming her way out of an ATA-approved kennel; who bit through electrical cords while they were still plugged in. She's a Houndini, a dog that just won't be stopped. Too stupid to stay out of trouble, too clever for her own good.

She was sweet to the vet as they shaved the area around the wound--she'll have a scar she can tell her friends came in a knife fight. But she's none the worse for wear. She gets antibiotics for ten days, and the stylin' purple bandage she's wearing looks pretty damn cute.



I spent an hour and a half scrubbing blood out of my carpet last night.

It's surprising how calm I was through all of that, though it occurred to me that I'd written a story three years ago about a woman much like myself and a dog much like Java and situation much like this one, but with a different, tragic ending....

Barking Cars & Dog Alarms

Her fingers clasped and unclasped the steering wheel. She hadn't a choice. Nothing else could be done.

Mounted on the dashboard was a bobble-head doll: a miniature schnauzer wearing around its flocked plastic neck a little metal plaque that read "MINIATURE SCHNAUZER." A 5-gallon pail of organic senior dog food lay in the back seat. Between the woman's seat and the passenger's, wedged against the emergency break and the gearshift, was a small wooden box with "Somewhere Rover the Rainbow" painted across the top and a label with her contact information and the name "Rudolf" printed on it. In her headlights, beyond the hood, was a little dog the color of nutmeg with astonishingly large ears. It leapt into the air, its front paws scraping against the bumper, its tail beating a strobe on the pavement.

"Dammit," she said to herself and opened the car door.

At home, after solemnly placing the little wooden box on the mantel piece, she sat down on the couch and rested her head in her hands. She stared at the little nutmeg-colored dog, and the dog stared back. It sat in front of her with a bright look on its face, barked once, shrilly, and seemed to smile at her.

"What shall I call you?" the woman asked, and as though trying to answer, the animal scooted closer to her, its tail a frenzy propelling it forward. She picked it up – a girl, with a smooth hairless belly like that of a human child. Cradling the dog in her arms, she decided on Cin (short for "Cinnamon"), as the stretching, twisting, panting pup licked her nose and chin. The woman smiled despite herself.

"Okay, Cin. Let's go to bed." She headed towards the bedroom, and Cin followed, pouncing at her heels.

The next day, she got a call on her cell phone while she was at work.

"That dog is driving the neighbors crazy! You have to do something. I never said you could have another dog in the first place...." It was the landlord, a.k.a. The Land Shark.

"I'm sorry," she said with significantly less enthusiasm than she had hoped to muster. "I'll be home soon, and I'll figure something out." She nodded and yessired for a couple minutes more until she was finally able to get The Land Shark off the line.

"I have to take off," she said from the doorway of her boss's office. "I have to take care of something at home. I'll be online later." And she left before he had a chance to say anything.

As she walked up the steps to her apartment, she couldn't help but put her own hands over her ears. Cin was screaming inside; the dog sounded like a car alarm. She unlocked the door and ran inside, afraid of what she might find. She scrambled over the makeshift barricade she'd constructed that morning to keep the puppy confined to the kitchen.

"What's wrong?" she asked, kneeling next to the dog, whose eyes were huge and shiny, and her heart thumped hard inside the furry chest. She kissed the dog, and stroked her head. "Calm down, sweetie. It's okay. Shhh...." Cin stopped squeaking and licked her cheek.

Whenever the woman left the dog alone, the same thing happened. The Land Shark was becoming harder to get off the phone.

"I never said you could have another dog anyway, and what kind of mongrel is that? I saw it through the kitchen window when I went by there today, and it looks like some kind of pit bull. It's gotta go. I want it out of that apartment by the end of the week...."

When she got home, Cin greeted her at the door. She'd made it over the barricade and apparently had then bee lined straight for the throw pillows in the living room. Pieces of red velvet covered the floor.

"Do you want me to get evicted?" she asked, looking down at the dog. "You do realize that then we'll both be living on the street. Won't that be fun?" She grumbled and bent down to pick up Cin – there was a gash on her muzzle. The woman stopped and looked around for anything that could have caused the injury. Her eyes rested on the window beside the front door. Glass shards were scattered beneath it, dotted with blood.

"Oh my God," she said, as the dog wriggled in her arms.

The next day, the woman worked from home, figuring that was simpler than having to run out of work early, pretending she had to meet a repair man or sign for a delivery. Cin was quiet most of the day, playing at her feet or sleeping in the sun-filled dining room.

The next day, her boss ordered her back into the office. It was crunch time, and she hadn't been putting in nearly enough hours. She built a more fortified barricade to keep Cin in the kitchen, and covered the floor with newspaper and toys and food in the hopes of entertaining the pup so it would be quiet while she was gone.

When she came home, she found Cin lying by the broken window, her neck shiny with blood, the brown eyes dull. The woman silently scooped her up in her arms and sat, staring at the window. She went outside and got in the car, placing the puppy on the seat beside her.

Her fingers clasped and unclasped the steering wheel. She hadn't a choice. Nothing else could be done.
Tags: fiction, java the mutt, memoir-ish
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