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Talking Animals: A Novel by Joni Murphy

Talking Animals: A Novel by Joni Murphy

Author:Joni Murphy [Murphy, Joni]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780374538743
Amazon: 0374538743
Publisher: FSG Originals
Published: 2020-08-03T23:00:00+00:00


14.

“She chomped me!”

The afternoon clouds had melted away, exposing a variegated sky of salmon, orange, and pale yellow. Alfonzo and Mitchell moved in the direction of the subway, but when they got to the entrance they kept walking. Across from them stretched the boardwalk and beyond that the sea. With the slightest hum, they agreed they wouldn’t return to the city just yet.

Mitchell shrugged. “I wish I could say that was unusual, but—”

“But what—your clients bite you regularly?”

“Animals get heated when it comes to their homes. It’s a sensitive topic. I don’t think their fears are unfounded.”

“But biting?” Alfonzo huffed. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

“Everybody bites sometime. Let me buy you a drink to make up for it. I’ll tell you some stuff about those cats when the time is right. But now is about getting you through your crisis. How are you feeling, aside from the ear?” Mitchell asked.

Alfonzo felt giddy. He sighed because he could not bear the weight of the day. They scanned for a bar. As far as they could tell, their choices were the Blue Boar Tavern or the Spouter Inn. The Blue Boar looked like it specialized in locally fermented livers. It had one tiny grim window, a closed green door, and a sign that used to spell COORS but had been abbreviated to a simple neon COO. The Spouter, by contrast, had a wide-open door and the Detroit Cobras playing on the stereo.

Alfonzo and Mitchell settled at the counter. They had a view of the street and the sea. The collie behind the bar wagged her tail while taking their orders. Because it was still the afternoon, the place was loose and uncrowded. The staff prepped and gossiped. Alfonzo relished this escape from the nine-to-five bubble.

“Let me give some encouragement,” Mitchell began. “First, let’s make an inventory. I do little self-assessments when I’m feeling low. It helps. You have a stable job that doesn’t require the use of your full intelligence. You have your own apartment in one of the most expensive cities. Granted, it’s a dank rat hole, but it’s yours. You’re devilishly clever. You’re friends with me. You are still young. Or at least you’re youngish.”

Mitchell sounded like he had prepared this speech long ago.

“Be nice.”

“That’s exactly what I’m doing! Point being, you’re not getting your PhD. So what? I think it’s a sign from the great cosmic camelid. You’re alive and healthy, and there’s more to life than the graduate center.”

Guilt shivered through Alfonzo. He was ignoring the positive, he admonished himself. Animals everywhere were dying. They were dying of starvation and poisoning and fighting while he was here, moping about his inability to produce a stellar academic product. He’d inflicted this on himself to avoid the challenges of the real world. Yet that burden was all he had.

“But without a career, what am I? I’m not anybody’s mate or parent. I am not even a particularly good son. I’m not politically active. I don’t volunteer. I haven’t been to a dentist in years.



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