Geoffrey, like all of us, is an ordinary, unmagical person. Though generally he has been a good helpmate and lover in our home, as well as a renaissance man at work, he cannot be in two places simultaneously. For proof of this, I can point to the empty side of our bed, or to the absence of his dun-colored hairs on the pillow, or to the remarkably clear water in the bottom of the toilet bowl. When he arrives home, Geoffrey, as a habit, reclines on the bed to remove his shoes, sending a fine rain of dirt from his soles to the bedspread, and then takes a leak first thing after and doesnít flush the mellow yellows.
The specificity of these details proves that I am not lying, or at least that it is unlikely that I am lying. They say that in a court of law, during testimony, a jury should be vigilant about the specificity of details. A vague story with a dearth of details marks the storyteller as a liar. Of course, it is possible that I am confused or mistaken. I was in a car accident six months ago, and my head smashed into the windshield. Two men flanked by three women and one additional man operated on me for four hours; little fragments of glass were removed from my brain. When I woke up in the hospital, part of my forehead was dented in like a dollís head. I lost some memories, thatís what Geoffrey says. And sometimes when Iím talking to him, I realize heís actually one of his sport jackets or a shadow or the shower curtain. So Iím not saying that Iím faultless.
But here, now: no hair, no dirt, no piss. The lack of these things proves that Geoffrey isnít here.
Geoffrey is off training Nimrod, a bull terrier, for a half hour sitcom called Manís Best Friend. He is a dog trainer. Training dogs for the worldís entertainment is his lifeís purpose. In the script it says that Nimrod, playing a bull terrier named Louie, is supposed to grab a hot dog from the hand of a three-year-old boy. The boyís name I donít know. A laugh track will play like a chorus of lunatics as the child and his mother, an actress who calls herself Patricia Duvae Lovell, chuckle with an insouciant good humor. The camera will frame Nimrodís jowls as he chews the hot dog with an impish canine joie de vivre.
Things are not going as planned. The dog is frozen on the steps, a decade of arthritis locking his hips.
ďCome on, Nimrod,Ē Geoffrey says. ďTake it. Take it?Ē
This is as good a time as any to mention that I donít give a crap about this show. I watched it in the hospital when nothing else was on, and it actually made me feel sick. Itís a terrible show, the kind that no one watches and thus is scheduled on Saturday nights when everyone is out drinking and screwing, and anyway, none of it matters because Geoffrey is supposed to be here, in our house, and not there, at the studio. Heís supposed to get his car out of my garage and then his things out of my house, or heís supposed to grab my shoulders and shake me like a snow globe until both of us resemble what we were before. Either way, we need to talk and reconcile and be mature and do the things that adults do, and we canít do any of those things when one of us is somewhere else.
A treat, moistened with the sweat of his palm, is inches away from Nimrodís nose. Geoffrey will smell like bacon and bull penis for the rest of the day.