On the sidewalk, we pass a busker clutching a tuba telling his friend he wanted a machete. My gait causes me to lag behind Tom, and a man on a weaving bicycle calls, “Hey, darling. Out for a morning stroll?”
I twist my head, thinking I know him—who would I know in the Bywater in New Orleans?—because it’s been so long since it’s happened I’d forgotten: strangers will hit on you. When the grinning man realizes I’m with Tom, he limps on by. “I have a flat tire,” he says over the shoulder of his wobbly departure.
We cross the street and, using her own indiscernible standards, Evangeline yaps at some dogs, leaves others alone. It’s supposed to be fall, but it’s hot as hell, and she wants some water. I seem to remember the Healing Center used to have water bowls for dogs, but it does no more. Tom disappears—I forget where he goes—and reappears to unbridled enthusiasm. Whether it’s been five minutes or five hours, the dog loves to see him return. Me, too.
The trip back home, I lead Evangeline. We divide our duties that way: Tom led on the way to, I lead on the return from. When we get back to the apartment, the dog’s hair is full of burrs, small buff-colored razor balls that embed themselves and hold on for dear life. Beggar lice, too, fellow travelers on this road of life. She watches me pluck them from her hair, then looks up and licks my nose, grateful. Tomorrow, we will return from an afternoon on Magazine Street and I will have such bad give-downs I’ll get in the bed and sleep until 11:00 the next morning. But, today, I walk to the Healing Center and back, in love with life.
here’s to Creative Synthesis . . .