Today needs to be productive. I’ve gotta be at an office party at noon but before that I’ve gotta write a post and do some reading.
I can manage it.
Mango puts a paw on my chin at 7 a.m. and I pick him up in my underwear and take him to the foot of the bed where, on the floor, I hold him over an absorbent pad until he pees. Takes a few seconds. Then I pull on jeans and a shirt and walk him downstairs so he can pee some more along the hedge.
Mango does his business and we go back upstairs and I heat up his food and set it down in my room. He gobbles it. After breakfast he goes to the foot of my bed and scratches at it and gives me a pleading look cuz he’s sixteen years old, his jumping days are over, so I give him a lift onto the bed and he’s delighted, digs at the sheets, walks in a few quick circles over the comforter and then huffs and makes eye contact with me before pissing on it.
Few minutes later at the laundromat I realize I brought a pillow by accident. Stripped the bed in such a frenzy, it got swept up in the sheets.
I put the pillow in the washing machine along with everything else. Bedding and a few shirts.
For the 27-minute cycle I walk two blocks up the road for a Big Cuban Breakfast at a yellow bakery where someone has handpainted a sign on the wall saying breakfast is cheap and foodstamps are welcome. I come here two or three times a week for the same huge platter and today, as usual, struggle with the order (“juevos revuelto con hamon y papitas y tostada”). The cashier and server avoid eye contact every time. Seem not to like me.
I’m listening to a podcast when she brings out the platter and I notice right away that the fries are a special glistening shade of brown. Crispy.
I can eat French fries but I get sick whenever I eat something this fried.
I shouldn’t eat this. I know I shouldn’t eat this.
I cover it in hot sauce and ketchup and eat this.
Twenty minutes later I’m back at the laundromat moving my bedding from the washer to the dryer, fighting the soggy pillow through the opening, when suddenly I freeze, bent over.
A gurgle in my stomach sends a telegraph to my brain.
The dryers operate in nine-minute cycles and I figure it’s enough time to run back to my apartment, hemorrhage on the toilet, and return.
So I do that.
I’m a gastric atrocity in the bathroom when Mango scratches at the door, whimpering.
He needs to pee.
What I thought would be a few minutes at the apartment turns into half an hour. I give birth and clean some of Mango’s urine from my bedroom floor and drink my roommate’s last La Croix and when I finally make my way back to the laundromat I find that the dryer’s cycle has long since ended and that a red dress shirt has been stolen from my mass of soggy bedding.
I start the cycle again and think about my fucking dog.
Forgot about the fucking pillow in the dryer. Takes three cycles. Why did I think it was a good idea to just toss it in there? Can pillows even endure three cycles?
I take a seat by the vending machines. The laundromat’s owner has turned off the air conditioner because it’s 75 degrees out. The double doors are propped open as though to cultivate a breeze. Men in suits come by to pickup their dry cleaning and at some point in their banter with the owner she says something about the tiempo being perfecto.
Customers at the drying station sit and fan themselves with magazines, panting.
Mango, back at the apartment, sleeps peacefully on the couch, paws flinching in a dream.
Paler than usual, glossed in a sweat that has little to do with heat, I slog up three flights of stairs with an armload of laundry pulled to my chest. Open the apartment door. Go inside. Drop it all on the bed. Shuffle to the bathroom with my stomach making noise again.
Wristwatch says 11 a.m.
The office holiday party starts at noon.
My car is parked at my dad’s place, a mile away.
Haven’t written a word.
I sit in the bathroom and Mango huffs and sniffs at the crack under the door. Whimpers.
I’ve switched to mesh shorts for the mile-long walk to my car.
As I walk I see dogs on leashes pissing obediently out of doors.
I keep my head down and work my pace up to a trot. Try not to shit on the grass myself.
Get to my dad’s place and grab the car and drive it back to my apartment and run upstairs, huffing, cuz I gotta take a shower real quick and then hurry to the party.
I kick my shoes off and strip outta my shirt and shorts in the doorway.
Both dogs stare at me from the couch.
I break into a run for the shower and just before reaching the bathroom my right foot darts out to the left and I pivot and hit the wall and slide naked down to the puddle of urine I’ve just slipped in.
From the couch, his head at an inquisitive tilt, Mango watches.
Leave the apartment at 11:40 for the 12:00 party. The drive usually takes an hour.
I have to stop at Walgreens for soda.
Traffic is dense and angry.
I reach the party just in time to help with the cleanup. Pavel sees me and balks. He’s wearing a full red Christmas suit and turns his palms up at me.
“Where were you?”
I get back from work at 9 p.m. and there’s piss on the floor. I take Mango downstairs and he’s so excited he can barely walk straight. Tail wagging. He runs to the hedge and pees a few spurts and then frolicks to the tree and pisses summore.
He sniffs things for a bit and runs back to me.
He says nothing but his spine curls and his tail moves faster.
“Cuz listen here, my friend…”
Making the bed takes forever cuzza the fucking mattress cover and when it’s all set up I throw myself down on it and pout. Mango whimpers to join me.
“No. No fucking way.”
He looks at me.
He starts to tremble.
It’s a little after midnight when I go and fetch him from the couch and pull him up onto the bed with me. He walks a few circles around the mattress before settling at my hip. I put a hand on his little ribcage and it swells under my palm. He weighs eight pounds now. Weighed maybe twelve in his prime.
In a few hours he’ll put a paw on my face and we’ll do this again and there’s something about having the little pissbag fuckface sweetheart huddled against me in the dark that makes it seem like not such a problem.