By Andrew Dunn
Cardboard box. Table top. Hot. Humid. Talking loud. Talking soft. Stuffed in a sack. Fish market. “Look at the squid.” Across the street. Under the street. Concrete and steel. Moving fast. Pitch-black.
Jim: Now this will be Margo and I am Jim. Jim and Margo.
Margo: You will be sharing our flat with us. Don’t mind our neighbors.
Jim: The only neighbor you’ll really get to know is Maude. Been here forever. The others? We don’t know them too well. Mainly young people that don’t stick around long.
What’s a neighbor? Never mind. Acknowledge so that this Jim and Margo will offer food.
Duffle bag. Elevator. Seasick. Angry. Fish market. Past the fish market. Stairs. “Good to see you this morning sir.” Fluorescent light.
Margo: That wasn’t a bad showing Jim.
Jim: Quite right. Not bad at all.
Margo: We’ll be taking you around a good bit you see. We were fortunate to find you and well, in our old age it’s nice to be able to show you off.
Jim: Forgive her. (Laughter). You see we were never blessed with children of our own.
Margo: And you were always too busy with your work in the lab Jim. (Laughter).
What’s a children?
Kitchen. Dark. Tick tock. Tick. Tock. Paper towels taste bland. Spit them out. Plastic better. Too crunchy. Still hungry. Snoring. Pepper tastes good. Ketchup tastes good. Pepper. Ketchup. Plastic. Paper towels.
Jim: Now now this just won’t do Margo. We can’t have Pilly eating whatever Pilly chooses at all hours.
Margo: Jim! It’s absurd to think we should pretend to feed it.
Jim: Shhhh. Pilly will here you.
Pilly always hears.
Peas. Beets. Finish your plate. Finish your plate and go across town. Park. Birds. Lake. Green. All day long. All. Day. Long. Hate peas. Hate beets. Hate finishing the plate.
Margo: Oh hi Maude!
Jim: Yes, good to see you Maude how have you been?
Maude: Dreadful I must tell you. Have you seen what they are charging at the market these days?
Margo: It’s bad whole way around. Our plane tickets cost us almost twice what they did last year!
Maude: That’s terrible.
Hate cardboard box. Hate sacks. Hate fish market. Hate concrete and steel.
Bathroom dark. Hate toilet paper. Tastes bad. Spit it out. Spit lots of it out. Margo. Shampoo tastes good. Soap tastes good. Shaving cream tastes good. Bathroom scale tastes good. Bath mat tastes bad. Carry bath mat into the hall.
Margo: Now that’s a perfectly good assortment of vegetables for you. Be good and clean your plate.
Jim: Just try it. I think you’ll find it better than the rubbish you got yourself into in the bathroom last night.
Maude’s room. Upstairs. Smells good. Better than Jim and Margo. Hate duffle bag. Hate elevator. Hate fish market. Hate stairs. Hate “good to see you this morning sir.” Hate fluorescent light. Hate cleaning the plate.
Jim: Maude we so appreciate your looking after Pilly while we’re away for the weekend.
Maude: Oh it’s no trouble. I reckon the lil bugger is more or less self-sufficient?
Margo: For the most part. But…
Jim: Maude…I know it sounds crazy but Pilly requires regular feeding.
Jim: I know Maude…
Maude: How on earth?
Margo: That’s what I thought too at first Maude.
Maude: What does Pilly eat?
Jim: We’re still trying to figure that out.
Margo: Normally in the evenings we’ll sit Pilly down at the kitchen table and serve some vegetables.
Jim: Or fruit.
Hate fruit. Hate vegetables. Hate cleaning the plate.
Jim: The best thing is just to try and have Pilly eat what is served. Pilly may be up and about late at night chewing up paper towels and such.
Hate kitchen. Hate tick-tock. Tick. Tock Hate bathroom. Hate Jim. Hate Margo. Spit them out. Maude smells good.
Like the hall. Climb stairs. Dark. Maude’s rooms smell good. Hate Jim. Hate Margo. Spit them out. Maude smells good. Tick-tock. Tick. Tock. Maude’s ketchup tastes good. Maude’s pepper tastes good. Maude’s plastic shower curtain tastes good.
Maude: You lil bugger how’d you get up here? It’s half past two in the morning.
Upstairs. Downstairs. Downstairs. Upstairs. Hate stairs. Hate elevator.
Maude: Well, they said you’d eaten paper towels and such but they never said you were like this. Are you hungry.
Hungry. Hate hungry. Spit it out. Acknowledge.
Maude: Come into the kitchen then and let’s see what we can figure out.
What’s a neighbor?
Maude: They said they gave you vegetables Pilly.
Hate beans. Hate peas. Hate corn. Hate beets. Hate carrots. Hate spinach. Hate lettuce. Hate chicken. Hate beef. Hate turkey. Hate spaghetti. Hate “good to see you this morning sir.” Smells bad. Hate licorice. Hate ice cream. Hate pet turtle. Hate potatoes. Hate fish market. Hate concrete and steel. Spit them out. Hate water. Hate milk. Hate soda pop. Hate “look at the squid.” Hate Jim and hate Margo.
Maude: Here’s some corn and peas. Now clean your plate and then settle in for the night. Jim and Margo will be back in another day and you’ll want to be well rested to welcome them back from their trip.
Hate Maude. Smells bad. Spit Maude out.
Jim: Where is Maude?
Margo: Oh dear, Pilly’s been at the bathroom while we were away.
Oh dear Pilly thought. But his plate was clean. Spotless. The same could not be said of Maude’s linoleum floor and the ceiling in Jim and Margo’s kitchen directly underneath Maude’s kitchen. Maude had been a messy undertaking. Maude took lots of time to finish.
Jim: Well, we’ll need to pick up another I reckon. After my nap I’ll head down to market and see what they have for sale.
Margo: I guess so. But Maude was so, so very…
Pilly smiled. Maude was so, so very indeed. Spit Jim out. Spit Margo out.