Home Sweet Home
The call came in about a week ago and I could barely contain my bladder from the excitement. Nick told me “Come on, bud! It’s time to go. We’ll be in the city in no time!” I can usually understand him but sometimes he tells me stuff and all I can do is stare. He talks a lot. I like the guy and I could have been stuck with someone worse but if he isn’t watching TV he’s carrying on and on without coming up for air. Sometimes I wish he could really understand me so it would be more of a conversation – that would make things a whole lot easier. Besides, sometimes he’s about to do something and I’m thinking “Oh no. Oh no. Don’t. Don’t do it.” but he does it. He just doesn’t have much common sense.
We’re going to that place where I can mingle with my own kind. Bright lights, popcorn, fried stuff. Oh, and I love to chase tail. Wish we visited more. I try to find it but it’s like it disappears. There one day, gone the next. I suppose things would be fine if I didn’t have to step out of the house to get some peace and quiet. He looks concerned if I take too long and sometimes I wonder what he’d do without me. He’s tired a lot, too. I wish he’d be more into going out but he just likes to stay home most of the time. There’s this place with some tables outside where we could both mingle with our own kind but Darlene has to drag him to go. I love it when she does because I know Jesse’s going to be there.
We’re on our way into the big city tonight to see Jimbo and Jake, though. I haven’t seen Jake in a year so I’m looking forward to hanging out. Jimbo gets on my nerves a little and when I’m around him I realize Nick could be a thousand times more irritating. This guy, Jimbo, lives for this box with lots of loud sounds. We have a different kind of box. I never really understood what the box is for but sometimes I like to watch it with Nick. Nick may not want to go into town much but at least he does things: fixing his cars, trucks and doing work around the yard.
I get the feeling Nick and Jimbo are close. Anyway, that is how I met Jake. It’s a rough neighbourhood and the place is furnished with the kind of stuff that I see on the curb to be picked up by the garbage truck, which suits me fine. Jake and I got along from the first day I met him. He was born and bred on the Bronx streets and I’m just a country bumpkin. I’ve spent my life hunting and chasing tail. I suspect Jake does quite well with the ladies. We both do alright. He likes his females a little wild. Some of them are a little too feral for my taste. I like mine to have a little more impulse control.
Phil and Zed show up eventually and this means Jake and I get to catch up with Buzz and Tom. The four of us – we’re the loyal mates and we understand that this is their thing. Technically, we’ve just come along to keep them company on the ride to Jimbo’s, but that dosn’t mean we haven’t formed our own rituals over the years. When they’re entertaining each other , we slip out the backdoor and sit on the cement wall facing the back of a place they’ve called the Loblaws and watch the world go by. It’s night now, though, and that’s when the real rats hang out. They’re filthy. Jake tells me that once or twice he’s seen a hot thing step out of a vehicle. There are always people who like to possess others and they’re just interested in the attention. Once the novelty is gone, they’ll buy a new car or something to parade that instead. They never seem to care that random strangers lay their hands on her. Kind of sick if you ask me. I won’t bite the hand that feeds me but I will bite the hand that doesn’t. Nick would never do that to me. When females exposed to this treatment and life get away it’s only for a short time until they’re pulled back into some vehicle. They resist but give in when they remember that’s the price they pay to live like royalty: pulled into some fancy, black SUV and made to look like something they are not. I don’t know why anyone would want to live that way but I suppose some of them feel like they don’t have a choice. They can run away, but they’re too taken by the finer things in life and would no longer even know how to survive on their own. They wouldn’t be better off anyway – those rodents are the worst and they spare no time. They travel in packs and move fast – and they’re far larger and more intimidating than a person would think. Lets just say there is no pleasure gained by making their acquaintance.
So the four of us just hang out on the wall, while the four of them do their thing. They drink, get loud, play poker and smoke. Jake’s used to it. He’s been in some pretty rough neighbourhoods. Jake tells me Jimbo isn’t so bad. Took him home when Jake was starving and freezing to death in a place called Hell’s Kitchen. Jake says it’s “dog eat dog out there” and I have no interest in eating one of my own. Nick and I, we’re used to the quiet life and listening to Willie in the backyard. Nick, with a bottle in his hand and a little beer in my bowl. He likes to look up at the stars and say, “We’re lovers, not fighters, right pal.” I agree, for the most part, unless he gets us into trouble with other townies when he’s had too much and I have to get involved. He really doesn’t hold his liquor down as well as he thinks. After an entire night of howling under the moonlight and listening to Crusty, Barlow’s pal, bark like an idiot, we head back inside. It’s not because he scares us – his bark is bigger than his bite – it’s just that it gets old sitting out there after a while and we’re not as young as we used to be. We can’t pull all-nighters the way we used to. Every year we feel more of our bones stiffen and ache. We always head inside long after the guys are passed out on the floor, though.
The next day I’m looking forward to heading home. I pull myself off the floor and roam around the room in search of those salty, crunchy things they were munching on last night – it’ll fill the hole in my stomach until I get home. I pull on Nick’s clothes and try to get him going but getting him to open his eyes requires a solid lick or two. He’s sober but a total mess on the ride back and seems grateful when we arrive. I’m pretty wrecked also. I get peace and quiet for a few days while he’s recovering. We always return knowing that small-town living is just right for us. And I’m reminded that he’s a pretty good guy. Once a year in the city is all I’m able to handle. Besides, I wouldn’t want to spend more than a few days without sniffing Jesse’s butt or chasing Fred’s barn cats.
Written by: Leni Sosa; Permanence of Wings