“I know you’ve told me already, but tell me again. Take pity on me.”
“Hmm,” she mumbles before sipping her beer.
“Hachikō was a dog who lived in Japan in the early twentieth century. As a loyal and obedient mutt, he would go to meet his owner at the train station after he finished work. When his owner died unexpectedly, Hachikō spent the rest of his life returning to the same station at the same time every day in anticipation of his eventual return.”
“How long did this go on for?” I ask.
“About ten years, I believe.”
“You’d think he would’ve got the message at some point, wouldn’t you?”
Turning to me with her mouth open, she shakes her head disappointingly.
“Is that all you’ve got to say?”
“I’m only joking.”
She’s in one of those moods now. I can’t say anything even remotely jokey. It’s like walking on eggshells. Sometimes, I can be a dick, and she loves it. Moments like these, though, and I have to be deadly serious, or she thinks I’m the biggest twat going. Most of the time, I am, but still.
“Well, you shouldn’t. You joke too much. For a man of your age, you should take life more seriously. You might get a let more out of it if you did. You’d get a lot more respect out of me, that’s for sure.”
I go to say something but bite my tongue. Retaliation at a time like this could prove to be fatal. Frowning at me, she blows into the neck of her beer bottle, making a strange sound. It’s as if she’s playing the flute. When she sees me smiling at her, she stops.
“Imagine, a dog waiting for its owner at a station for nearly ten years. It’s the saddest thing, isn’t it? Seeing all those faces in the crowd, but never again the face of the one you love.”
Nodding in agreement, I wipe the sweat from my brow.
“Do you think he knew he’d never see him again or was there a tiny slither of hope?”
“I’m guessing hope,” she says, “without hope, what would be the point of waking every morning? Even for an animal, there must be more to life than merely existing.”
Looking at the dog by my feet, I stroke his head.
“I hope our Hachikō is as faithful as his namesake.”
“He better be,” she says, “and to me, not you.”
“That’s not nice,” I say
“If he sees you as his master, I’ll banish him to the garden.”
“Well, you’ve already shouted at him once, so you’re not off to a good start.”
“Only because he was a tramp by rubbing his arse against the table. He must’ve gotten that from you.”
“Oh yeah, how many times have you seen me do that?”
“I’ve seen you sniff your fingers after fiddling with your balls and bum.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I say, looking away sheepishly.
“Exactly. Don’t even think about denying it. Like I said, you’re an overgrown toddler. No attention span, a breast fixation, and a constant need to sniff and prod his naughty bits. You’re both filthy mutts.”