Chap. 14

            I stashed my socks in my empty shoes and sank my feet into the cold sand below. “I saw this movie when I was a kid – it was about a man who dies and gets resurrected as a dog,” I said. “Have you seen it?”

            Cyrus shook his head. “Who’s in it?”

            “I don’t know, man… they were dogs.”

            “Oh.”

            “Anyway,” I continued. “Woudn’t that be awesome? I mean – even if there were an actual heaven, I’d still like to first come back as a dog.”

            He nodded. “Ok – but why a dog?” he asked. “Why not a lion, or a shark, or an unicorn?”

            I laughed. “I don’t know, man – maybe if the movie had been about fucking unicorns, I’d have thought about that first,” I said. “But you know – the upside about being a dog is you have someone who takes care of you. You don’t have to hunt and beware of predators and shit.”

            “Yes, but dude – that someone is an owner,” he said. “You wouldn’t even be free to decide when to take a shit, or when to fuck – man; dogs get laid like once in their lifetime – unles they have like, awesome genes.”

            I thought about it. “Shit.”

            “Yeah.”

            “My genes aren’t awesome at all. And they can’t even jerk off.”

            He laughed.

            “I’m glad they can’t jerk off though – they’d unload fucking everywhere,” I continued. “On the street, it wouldn’t just be shit – you’d have to be careful about stepping on dog spunk too.”

            He laughed. “Perhaps you could put one of those funnels on their dicks – you know those funnels you see in dog’s necks sometimes?”

            I laughed my ass off and then I drank some more beer. Behind us, we could hear the adolescents having the time of their life; but the truth is so were we, in our own uncanny way. Cyrus was an old friend – like from kindergarden and shit; but he was one of those friends who feel more like brothers. He’d gotten kicked out of St. Adonis in 2002; but we’d always kept in touch, in some way or another, and in any case time didn’t seem to harm our relationship much. Fortunately the school hadn’t expelled him, but had instead ‘invited him to leave’; and even though at first it seemed like it made no fucking difference, it did to the other private school named after a saint he applied to. Fast-forward a few years and now, curiously, he was having his graduation trip the same week as mine. So – I’d let my inebration drift away early, searched for Cyrus in the ever frenzied mob; found him, hugged him and ordered some beer, and settled on the beach for some overdue ketchup.

            “Tell me about your girlfriend,” I said.

            His face brightened. “Man, you have to meet her,” he said. “She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me – our relationship, it’s perfect.”

            I smiled. “That’s great.”

            “Getting kicked out of St. Adonis – it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he repeated. “It forced me to get my shit together – you know?”

            I nodded. “Is St. John’s any better?”

            He shook his head. “It’s the same thing, with polo instead of rugby,” he said. “But there are many cool people, and it gave me a chance to meet her.”

            “I’m glad some good came out of it.”

            I nodded, as I always did, and I took a look around – only to have my eyes run directly into Maggie’s. She was looking right at me, beautiful as ever; and judging by her urgency as she pretended like she hadn’t been, I could tell she’d been staring for a considerable while. She was sitting on a table about twenty feet away, talking to this rugger from St. Adonis who kept hitting on her; though he might as well have been a pair of headphones and an Ipod. She looked my way again as the rugger posed and rambled; and was nice enough to becqueath me with one of her cute, pink smiles. I returned it, in short form, and resumed my conversation with Cyrus – both a bit more joyful and disheartened than before.

            “I have to tell you something,” I said.

            “What?”

            “I broke up with Claire.”

            Cyrus gave me an honest frown. He was a bit of a hopeless romantic too – I bet he’d already pictured himself standing in the altar, or having a toast, or getting a gazebo blowjob from a bridesmaid.

            “Seriously?” he asked. “Why?”

            I shook my head. “I don’t know…”

            “Who’s idea was it?”

            I shrugged. “Both of us, I guess.”

            He put his hand on my shoulder, and rubbed a few times. It felt pretty good, surprisingly good; and I felt like getting some other things out of my system.

            “Listen – I’m not saying she never loved me, cause I know she did – but I don’t think she ever really commited to the whole thing,” I said. “I mean – definitely not as much as I did, at least. I’m very intense, you know? When I like something – I go all the way with it.”

            Cyrus nodded. “You should certainly try cocaine, then.”

            I laughed out loud.

            “Have you tried it?” I asked. I knew Cyrus liked to smoke weed.

            “No.”

            I smiled. I went back to thinking about that dog resurrection movie. I decided that if I were to have a say in it, I would choose to come back as a golden retriever. The oldest of my brothers had a golden retriever. He found a used tennis ball once – it made his month.

            “Wing, don’t worry about Claire,” said Cyrus. “Don’t let it affect you – she’s always been obsessed with school and her grades, maybe she wasn’t the right person for you.”

            I nodded. “I’ll be fine,” I said. “I just need some time.”

            “What you have to do is find someone else,” he said. “And come on, man – this has to be the best place for that.”

            I laughed. “Ok – don’t look, but can you see that blonde girl to my right? The one talking to Antonio?”

            “How am I supposed to see if I can’t – “

            “Just be subtle,” I interrupted. “Like – take your time.”

            “Ok,” he nodded.

            We remained in silence, drinking our beer.

            “Can I look now?” he asked.

            “Ok, just look at her, man – fuck it.”

            “Wait! I’ve got an idea.”

            Cyrus handed me his bottle of beer. He stood up and pretended to slap the sand away from his jeans, and while he was at it, he managed to sneak a glance towards Maggie’s direction. He hit his jeans a few more times before sitting down again.

            “That was pathetic,” I said.

            “Shut up – dude, I know that chick!”

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah! Maggie De Luca,” he said. “Did you make out with her!?”

            I smiled. “No – No. But we talked for like an hour the other day,” I said. “I thought we’d hit it off, actually, but then I tried to kiss her, and she pulled back and gave this – wet dog look.”

            “When did this happen?

            “Yesterday night.”

            “Dude – bad idea,” he said. “She’s a hard-ass, man – there’s no way she was going to kiss you on a first date.”

            I sneered. “It was hardly a date.”

            “Even better then!” he exclaimed. “Man – I bet you still have a shot.”

            “You think?”

            “Yeah! I would fuck you if I were a girl – and I’d be the worst hard-ass in the world.”

            I laughed. “I’d be the most unscrupulous whore,” I said. “I mean I’d be one of those fattys – I wouldnt have a choice.”

            We both laughed out loud. Cyrus encouraged me – he was like an emotional guru or something. I turned to my right and caught Maggie looking at me again. I could tell she was probably wondering why I hadn’t spoken to her all night. Perhaps, perhaps; something had stayed with her. In any case it was obvious I had to keep ignoring her – it seemed to be working just fine.

            “I’ll talk to her tomorrow then,” I said. “I don’t want to insist tonight – I don’t want her to think I’m insane.”

            Cyrus smiled. “But, Wing – you are insane.”

            I smiled back.

            “I know..,” I said. “But I don’t want her to know it yet, do I? I can pull that off – unlike you.”

            “What do you mean?

            “You’re more of an – eh, outgoing lunatic,” I said. “It’s easier to tell. I’m more of a closeted lunatic.”

            He laughed. “Well, just as long as you’re a lunatic – you’re saved.”

            I tried to follow. “Saved?”

            “This world, man,” he said. “This world is really fucking beautiful. And sometimes only a lunatic can see how beautiful it is.”

            Cyrus took a sip of beer and looked at the sea. I looked at him like he was looking at the sea. It didn’t have to make sense, whatever he said. He was something like one of those really good mothers – one of those mothers who pat you in the back; and can tell you that there’s a meteorite headed for Earth, and that John Lennon has been shot and that you didn’t get into college, and that you’re about to get your period and still make it sound like absolutely everything – in the end, is just going to be fine.

            “I have a question,” I said.

            “Shoot.”

            “Yeah – it’s one of those questions that I’ve always wanted to ask someone, but you know how it is. If I were to ask the guys about it, they’d tell me to shut the fuck up in some witty way that would make them look cool. I mean it’s all well and good – I tell people to shut the fuck up in witty ways all the time – but the point is my lonely question would have remained unanswered.”

            “Shoot!”

            “Ok,” I said. “If you could have any superpower in the world – what would that power be?”

            He sank back and pondered, drinking some beer. It’s funny how we always sip booze when we’re thinking. We drink alcohol because it makes us stupid, yet we’re still convinced it’s some kind of wisdom brew – just like with the bible, and those other books, you know? I mean if aliens were studying us and planning an invasion, they’d be convinced these two things were the fountain of our knowledge, and they’d find some crazy sci-fi way to get rid of both drugs and religion – but then this would back-fire on their asses like crazy, cause it would make us fearless and super-intelligent as hell, and then we’d be the ones who’d end up invading their planet, and raping their women, and then killing the rest of them with all the diseases we keep in our body which they had no idea even existed. Humanity – hell yeah. You gotta love it.

            “If I were a superhero, my power would be that of relentless, contagious peace,” Cyrus finally said. “Hypothetically speaking; if my nemesis and I were about to clash for the future of the earth, the next little vignete in the comic book would be that of my nemesis and I having a drink at a nearby bar – chatting peacefully and sharing some anecdotes.”

            I smiled, fondly, before nodding a few times. “It woudn’t make much of a comic book,” I said. “But I can’t picture anyone answering that question more beautifully.”

            Cyrus smiled. “Thanks Wing!” he said. He was happy I liked it. “What would you choose?”

            “Well – I’d just want to fly.”

            Cyrus’s eyes shrunk, expecting something else, but it wasn’t long before he realized there was nothing else coming. “That’s… it? Just flight?

            “Sure.”

            “That’d be your only power.”

            “Yeah.”

            “No super strength, or – maybe bulletproof? Just flight?”

            “Sure.”

            “Ok, but, let’s say you’re flying – and don’t get me wrong, you fly beautifully – but then you fly all the way to the bank robbery, or whatever, and you realize the bad guys are armed and there’s nothing you can do to stop them!”

            I laughed. “Who said anything about fighting bad guys?”

            “Don’t you want to be a superhero?”        

            “Not really,” I said. “I just want to be super.”

            Cyrus smiled broadly – a very contagious smile. Then he grabbed me firmly by the shoulder.

            “That you are, my friend,” he said.

            I looked down, embarassed, and then away and at Maggie, and caught her in the middle of yet another stare. She looked away quasi-almost immediately, and then looked back at me about a mili-second later, hoping she’d come off as the one who caught the other one looking. It didn’t work at all. She knew it didn’t work, so she smiled and played it cool. I smiled back. It seemed seeing me so relaxed was having a unsettling effect on her – as if she wanted me to think about her a bit more. And I mean it’s not like I didn’t – it’s just that I was tired. I’d been thinking about her the whole day.

            “You know – I’d like to be a golden retriever,” I shared. “I mean if I come back as a dog. That’d be the breed I’d choose.”

            “Yeah? Why?”

            I shrugged. “They enjoy the little things,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’d rather be a golden retriever; but I’m just saying it’d be nice to experience it.”

            “Yeah, in a way,” he said. “But they’re all a bit stupid – dogs in general. We couldn’t be sitting here drinking beer and talking about superheroes; or about what it would be like to be humans – we’d only be worried about smelling each other’s asses.”

            I laughed. “You know – maybe you’re right,” I said. “Perhaps being a dog sucks.”

            He smiled. “Then again – what the fuck do I know,” he added. “Maybe it’s awesome. If you ever honestly feel like finding out, though – you’re more than welcome to smell my ass.”

            I laughed. “I’ve been trying to smell my own, but I can’t seem to get there!” I exclaimed.

            Cyrus laughed like crazy. “God, man – why do dogs even do that?” he wondered.

            “Chase their tails?”

            “No – smell their asses!”

            I smiled. “I asked my dad that same question once,” I said. “When I was little. You want to know what he told me?”

            He nodded.

            “He said all the dogs in the world once went to a party, but that in order to get in, they had to leave their tails by the entrance. Suddenly, however, the police shows up; and they bust up the party and start chasing all the dogs, who scatter like crazy and leave in a hurry – getting their hands on the first tail they can find. And that’s why they still smell each other’s asses to this day – they’re still trying to find their own tail.”

            Cyrus just looked at me, his mind blown away. Stories like those amused the hell out of him.

            “That is – amazing!” he exclaimed.

            I laughed. I was glad he liked it. It was a bit of a crazy little story – I had never thought about how strange it was before.

            “Do you think german shepherds were invited to the party?” he asked. “After all, they work for the police.”

            I nodded. “They were working undercover, and they were the bastards who tipped off the police.”

            “What about Dobermans and Rottweilers?” he asked. “They don’t have any tails.”

            “That’s cause they’re so bad-ass they wouldn’t stop partying,” I said. “The police was forced to take them all in – and they never had the chance to get themselves a tail.”

            “Where do you think those extra tails are?”

            “They were stolen.”

            “By who?”

            “By Sonic the Hedgehog’s sidekick,” I said.

            Cyrus blurted out a massive guttural growl, before breaking out in laughter like an evil genius watching a sitcom. I had to start laughing, he was so damn contagious; and my laugh only managed to make things worst. I have a very distinctive, ridiculous laugh – you know? All the way until I peak, I laugh like a seagull; but after peaking, when I start to get tired, I let out this throaty de-flated laugh – exactly like that dog from Wacky Races, Muttley. Seriously – if you don’t know who that is, get of your ass and google it – or youtube it, better. People never believe me when I laugh – they think I’m faking it, or exaggerating at least; and the funny thing is I was, once upon a time – but eventually my fake laugh decided to stick; and now it’s my true laugh, but it still retains the odd vibe of a fake laugh. What can I say – it’s simply irresistible. Cyrus put his arm around me and pulled; drawing me in for one of those lateral, one-armed hugs.

            “I love you, man,”

            “I love you too.”

            Maggie heard us bellowing and looked in our direction. I caught her. It seemed like I had a freaking radar or something. She smiled at me once again, but this time I didn’t feel like smiling back. It’s not that I was trying to play it cool or being an asshole – it’s just I got too caught up in watching her smile.


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