Sensing he’s been insulted, the dog lets out a huff.
“Don’t worry, boy, I love you,” I tell him.
“Oh,” she says, “you tell a stray dog that you love him, but not your own fiancée. Doesn’t that make me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”
“Come off it,” I reply, “I always tell you how much I love you.”
“It’s barely the afternoon.”
“And yet you’ve already spoken those words to another.”
Shaking my head at her, she looks at me and sticks out her bottom lip.
“Poor Meeko,” she says.
“Don’t give me that.”
“Poor unloved Meeko.”
Throwing her arms up in the air, she folds them across her bare chest and scowls at me. Patting my thighs, the dog jumps onto my lap. Turning him around, so he’s facing her, I take his paw and make him do a little wave.
“Now you’re taking the piss out of me, aren’t you?”
“Aha! Not at all. Hachikō and I both love you very much.”
“No, you don’t,” she says, “I’m neglected, is what I am. Deprived of the love I so desperately deserve and need. But it’s okay, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m used to it by now. Meeko the moaning pleasure machine, that’s me.”
Getting ready to play my ace as she mumbles to herself, I sniff the scent of shampoo in the dog’s coat of fur. It’s one of mine.
“So, if I don’t love you, that means I won’t need to get you anything from the fried chicken place, right?”
Waiting for a response, she doesn’t say a word, and yet I can tell I’ve got her where I want. Biting her lower lip, she eyes me discreetly while thinking of what to say.
“Yep, Hachikō and I will share a big bucket of fried chicken and chips all to ourselves, won’t we boy?”
Patting him on the head, he sticks out his tongue and slobbers over my chin. To my surprise, his breath smells of toothpaste.
“Why does he have toothpaste on his breath?” I ask.
Looking sheepish, she lifts her knees up beneath her chin and gives me an innocent smile. It’s one she uses whenever she’s guilty of something.
“I brushed his teeth. To take away the smell of bad fish.”
“What do you mean you brushed his teeth? Brushed his teeth with what?”
She doesn’t need to say, though. That butter-wouldn’t-melt look of hers is enough.
“You used my fucking toothbrush!?”
“I washed it after.”
“Fuck sake, Meeko.”