Betcha didn't think I could extend LUST over three whole chapters, did you? And I still haven't gotten to the X-quote (see page whatever). But I know what all of you kiddies are thinking about, don't I, yes?! Enough of the mushy stuff, Cap'n! Tell us a dog story! (Stupid, hackneyed, yet always funny high school joke voice: "That's what She said.") I will sort of satisfy you, though I promise to return to LUST later (and possibly even to the neat <<sound effects>>> and the not-so-neat boldface "jokes"); I will tell you a mushy gushy DOG story. As with the other DOG stories so far, it's not really a story, as DOGS don't notice climaxes and denouements and endings and things, unless they die, which makes it hard to get a critique of the story out of them so as to aid editing (should I choose to do any of this), plus She would not like them to die, as I found out in telling Her the aforementioned bedtime story, which was about some dogs and a fox. As I don't really know the behavioral realities between these two species, at least not well enough to construct dialogue, I was forced to kill off the characters, which made Her unhappy and would have heightened the feeling of separateness if I hadn't quickly unended the story and made the DOGS just sleeping. I only thought they were dead. "Awww." She said. "Sleeping puppies. Awww." Very very cute, I must say.
The story is again about the DOGS in the pen, who of all the DOGS act most like the degenerates of my youth. I have mentioned their howling sessions of the early morn. These happened frequently, but not all the time, until white dog came. Sometimes he (or she... probably she) gets the whole gang riled up, but his sorrow is much greater, so he usually outlasts them. Right now I hear the howl, and I don't have to translate it to English to know what it means... The dog (the nameless one doesn't get capitalization of any sort) is very lonely. The other DOGS don't really know him yet, so he isn't even in the pen, but instead on a leash, inside the first gate, in an 8' by 4' area designed to create sort of an airlock so that the DOGS have two gates to wriggle past in order to escape. Plus other DOGS aren't the same as lovin' people. Just as I have been conditioned for whatever warped environmental reason to need Woman, to not be able to get comparable energy from any amount of (male) good friends, today's average domestic animal needs people for affection. It's obvious from the way he shakes all the time, and from the way he flinches back if I raise my hand, that he's been hurt -- that he's known abusive humans -- but he still needs us to feel together and whole and stop whining.
I had sung to the DOGS before. I sang to Coyote in Her apartment. He got bored and left. I sang around Duke in the same place as I composed a song during a recent traumatic event that I have yet to relate. Duke was concerned, but by the eighth time I played the newly-written cry for help, he too was bored and took off. But for the delinquents it was more helpful...
When any human approaches, anxious barking and tail-wagging ensues. Bear accompanies this by trying to keep the other DOGS from even looking at this human. They get annoyed at this and growl a bit. Buffy barks in a general fear without tail-wagging and doesn't stop when all the other DOGS do, which is when the human gets close enough for the DOGS to lick his or her hand through the fencing, to reduce their tension through physical contact. Occasionally this is not enough, and said human must actually enter the pen and be jumped upon in an orgiastic frenzy before they'll calm down. In such cases, when the DOGS growl at each other to compete for affection, Buffy, though curious, stays clear, and will bark if approached. This of course captured my attention immediately; that DOG, I said, must come to love and trust me. And so on one occasion when no other humans were around and the crowd was especially boisterous, I took it upon myself to burst into song -- a relaxing, melodic tune with very repetitious figures. This I wielded at each DOG, interjecting its name in every line. Gradually the crowd hushed, and though they periodically made a group dash to the far side of the pen to look for squirrels, they were for the most part entranced. Though Buffy still wouldn't let me approach her, she stopped barking and did creep a little closer to the fence separating us.
It was only two days after that that white dog came and the long howl began. He was obviously lonely and obviously distressed, and would continue to be so without constant attention. Not too far off from yours truly, I suppose... but I don't shed as much.
...So I did give in after the first long night and visited him -- gave him the strokes required and held his paw as he shook and shed. The singing stopped the group sing once again, and white dog stared at me with genuine affection. I didn't know his name, his sex, his history -- anything, but could make or break his day in nothing flat. Typical. As I stood in the pen's "airlock" petting the mutt, Buffy approached and smelled my hand through the inner gate. For the first time in a while I felt actually needed, and not arguably just a pleasant extra figure in an already-full life.
The sense of accomplishment was short-lived, though, as white dog's whining started up again moments after returning to the apartment. Within half an hour I was out again this time with my guitar, which even after I stopped singing proved fascinating to them. The embarrassment of human witnesses approaching brought my concert to an end, and loneliness swept back quickly for all parties. I guess there's little to be done: those DOGS need homes, individuals that they can hang around and don't have to share with too many others. Acts of kindness just don't cut it, but only commitments that most are unable or unwilling to enter into. What this comes down to is that he's got to learn to be alone, to stop howling and learn to live with it despite the shaking. It's always nice to be visited, though, especially if you're dense enough or clever enough to be able to forget that the Visitor will soon be leaving again...
Awww... What a tender tale of life, love, and growing up... much like this whole epic story, which will undoubtedly be made into a major motion picture featuring all your favorite stars and many action stunts... like for instance that stunt She pulled in leaving, which gave Me the chance to be alone with Her for these precious weeks, but will soon take Her from me indefinitely. Here's how it went: I was planning to come here eventually, but everything else in my life simultaneously becoming temporarily non-binding made the present a more convenient time, even though, as I know, dust would not have settled around the horror of Her and Him. She was non-committal at first about this idea, and then out of town, so I reserved plane tickets and adjusted my expectations. A few days before She was to leave, She expressed misgivings about this idea, which infuriated Me to no end. But there was little I could do but forgive Her, so I did. So it was with the expectation that we would soon be apart for a long long time that I took Her to the airport. Fortunately for My evil heart, the relevant airport was five hours away near My home town, and Her flight was an early one, so of course She must stay the night before at My place...
That night in the guest room was a little like the last one, but much more desperate and frantic. We talked a lot about the future, and about how wonderful the summer had been even though We had been in less contact with each other the last couple weeks... I don't remember specific words, and I won't invent them. I do remember the mood, and I do remember holding Her as She lay in bed for a long long time... I remember kissing Her forehead and setting the alarm clock very early.
As I migrated down unfamiliar highways to Chicago's secondary airport, the one that the major airlines stay away from, I thought of all the things that I had forgotten to say, the parts of my life that I hadn't quite had time to show Her, and the opportunities We would never get again. We held hands most of the way except when dealing with nearby incompetent drivers (which I shot). I refused, for once, to analyze the situation, to talk about what Her leaving meant for Me and what was happening to both of Us. She was mostly preoccupied with what She might have forgotten and with the obscene amount of luggage that I had to help Her carry, over several trips, into the airport.
I went with Her to the gate, and we sat and waited. This was the time that we knew had been coming for so long, the time when there was nothing left to lose. She filled most of it by going back to the check-in counter to correct some suspected error with Her boarding pass, so by the time She was back the plane was boarding. We did wait until the last possible moment as we stood together and hugged awkwardly. My nose brushed passed Hers as I considered moving in, but id didn't seem right. "I will wait for You," I said in a tone that was not the self-assured melodrama it should have been, but rather a somewhat off-hand half-understood assurance.
"Don't you go saying things you don't mean, now." She answered. I nodded. She slipped through my fingers and moved towards the gateway, but an airport official stopped Her to demand that She check the obscenely large and heavy backpack that She was trying to smuggle on as a carry-on. She moved back to Me and We savored the bonus minutes.
"If I don't try something right now, I'm really going to regret it for a long long time," I said.
"Please don't." I didn't. I watched wordless as She disappeared through the hatch. I waited as the ground crew went through their ground crew motions and watched as the plane taxied slowly toward the runway. From gate to gate, window to window, I followed its path until it finally launched up into the sky and slowly out of my perception. I didn't break the silence even with thought as I moved out to the parking lot. I was sad but strong, energized but uncomprehending, badly shaken but beaming in love. Her traces were fresh all over the car, my house, my life. Nothing to do now but write Her long letters and get on with It.