No foolin'. Two entries from "Spider and I" this week, starting with...
Morning light flooded through smudged glass. Scraps of Spider’s dinner lay about—a bit of blood sprayed on the square pillars and a few tiny snatches of fur. I never felt all that bad about the dogs. One of my foster homes had this little dog, Oscar, a little yipping thing that bit me once. Those folks worried more about the dog than me, took him to the vet, while I had to wrap my own hand with a t-shirt to stop the blood. That wasn’t even the worst of the homes.
Spider slept in the corner. Always in the corner. A light blanket covered him, something that would shield his nearly blind but sensitive eyes from the sun. The light bothered him—he had very thin eyelids, part of the “birth defect”. I felt at ease in the morning, pretty sure that Spider would never hurt me, but the way he ambled after his prey, skittering sideways and backwards on all fours, made my skin dance sometimes.
The little squeaks of children’s voices swelled from the playground. They weren’t at school, so I figured it was Saturday. I crept to the window, peering out at the little insects scurrying below. Spider always sought one of the highest buildings, and even as we hopped between these little towns, he seemed to find that one place that poked out of the prairie like a challenge to the sky.
Beyond the park, just across the street on the far side, was the town library. I liked to find the library wherever we traveled. Saturday meant reading, safe from anybody who’d want to know why I wasn’t at school. I’d been there last week, had overstuffed chairs tucked away in little nooks where I could hide all day and read. Where I could escape Spider for a while, escape the stench of our temporary home and imagine something different.
I crept out of the window, slinking down the fire escape into the grass below. As I started across the park, my eyes were fixed on the ground, scanning for loose change—quarters, dimes, and nickels that always fell out of the pockets of squirming children.
The voice snapped my trance. I looked up and searched for its owner. A little girl, probably seven or eight with messy pigtails and dirty pink shirt—a brown puppy with sappy eyes on the front—trotted across the grass.
“Yeah,” I mumbled.
“Have you seen a little dog, a terrier? Her name is Patches.”
The smell of blood seemed to drift from the factory building. I shook my head and turned to walk away.
“Did you come from that building?” Her pudgy little finger poked toward the brown bricks.
“No,” I lied. I shrugged and played dumb. “That place? It looks dangerous—like it could fall down or something. I’d make sure to steer clear.” I winked and started walking again.
“Okay mister,” the little kid called after me.