With my arm around her waist, I take her further along the sidewalk. Hachikō, in search of some mysterious new scent, is, in turn, leading me. Running this way and that, his chain continually wraps around our legs, causing us to trip. I’m somewhat annoyed but daren’t say anything for fear of putting a dampener on his giddy mood. Meeko is oblivious, for she’s too busy dreaming of donuts. With her head on my shoulder, she smiles to herself like a drunkard. Occasionally, a word or two slips from the corner of her mouth. I’ve no idea what she’s saying, though. Turning to face her, she looks at me and reaches out the fingers on her right hand to touch my face.
“You’re a pretty boy,” she grins.
“Thank you,” I reply.
Pawing at my features like a cat, she closes her eyes as a lorry thunders past showering us in dust particles. Taken by surprise, Hachikō growls before barking at the sky.
“You’re by far the prettiest boy I’ve ever known,” she slurs.
“A pretty boy for a pretty girl.”
“I’m not pretty,” she sniffs.
“Yes, you are.”
Biting her lower lip, she buries her face into my chest as we reach a set of lights.
“Why are we stopping?” she asks.
“Because we’re at a set of lights.”
“Which way shall we go?”
“I’m not sure.”
Looking to my left and then to my right before gazing straight ahead, everywhere looks the same, and although I’ve walked these streets my entire life, I’ve no idea where any of them lead.
“Let’s ask Hachikō,” she says.
On hearing his name, the dog turns in circles on the spot before gazing at me with his tongue sticking out. The light of the sun dances on his sweaty nose, and when he sees me smiling at the sight of such a simple wonder, he promptly wags his tail. Hitting the dusty ground, more dust particles rise into the air before spinning around us like ghosts.
“Which way shall we go, boy?”
Tilting his head to one side, he ponders my question as Meeko lifts her head. Kissing me on the neck, she undoes one of the buttons on my shirt and slides her hand through the gap. Touching my bare chest, she grabs a handful of hair and kisses me again. Sniffing a heady mix of exhaust fumes and raw sewage, the dog watches us while listening to the sounds around him with alert ears. What he hears, I can’t say, but it’s not the same as what we hear. He’s in tune to another layer of reality entirely, and as I gently tug on his lead, he tilts his head to the other side as if obeying a command from the other side of the veil. When he finally understands what it means, he lets out a series of barks that pinch my skin. They pinch Meeko’s, too. Pulling on my chest hairs, she plucks me like a chicken.