“Should I give him a bowl of water or a bowl of beer?” I ask.
“Either,” she says, “although I think he’d prefer beer, especially in this heat. It’ll help take the edge of his thirst, the poor boy.”
Letting my hand linger on the small of her back, I return to the kitchen and grab a plastic bowl from next to the sink and then a bottle of beer from the fridge. Unscrewing it, I pour the beer into the bowl until it’s nearly full and then finish off the rest myself before tossing the empty bottle into the bin.
“Did you give him all of it?” she asks.
“Yeah, every last drop,” I reply.
“Hmm,” is all she says to that.
“Will you come down with me?”
“No, I’ll stay here and watch from the window.”
“Why won’t you come with me?” I ask her.
“Because he might bite me.”
“Oh, but it’s okay if he takes a chunk out of me?”
“Don’t be silly. As I said, you have a way with animals. He might get spooked if I go. Me being a woman, and of exotic heritage, too.”
Shaking my head, I put on my pyjama bottoms and a pair of slippers. They make me look old and confused, but it’s okay because old and confused is what I am. There’s no escaping it at this stage in my life.
“Well, if he goes mental and tears out my throat, I want you to know that I blame you.”
Turning to face me, she sips her beer before wiping the sweat from her face. The beads of sweat keep coming though, and no matter how much we try cooling down, the heat of the day has us in its vice-like grip.
“Ever the drama queen,” she sighs.
Giving her a kiss on the cheek, I place my bottle of beer on the windowsill and check to see if the dog’s still down there. He is. The manky fish is all but gone, however, and I know I’ve only got a few seconds until he might decide to scarper. Playfully pinching my bum as I leave her side, I carry the bowl of beer as carefully as I can not wishing to spill any. Opening the door of the apartment, I take one stair at a time descending the stairwell as if in a great deal of pain—or on the verge of shitting myself—for someone watching it would be difficult to tell which. By the time I reach the bottom, the bowl isn’t missing a single drop of the good stuff, and I’m immensely proud. Smiling to myself, I walk towards the entrance, and as soon I step foot onto the sizzling sidewalk, I’m consumed by the relentless energy of the day—energy I both yearn for and avoid in equal measure.