chapter 13


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As soon as he saw me comin m a x   t o o k o f f 1 2 3 4 t o o k 9 10 * * 1 2 3 4 t o o k 9 10 * *

Deidra said—

good boy max, run up there and make sure its safe.

and started up the trail after him.

even as i followd, i continued to debate the wisdom in my choice.

on the one hand,  what was the harm?  its not like she was gona
rob me or anything— she had her chance if she was gona do that. and if i
could use her phone to call claire and take a long enough nap   i might not
even need the hotel, i could use the money instead to buy a new battery
if thats all it was, or put it towrd repairs.

on the other hand, i was followin a crazy lady, with
violent tendancies, back to her lair.

i chose the path of least resistance i-e inertia,
keep followin max and the crazy lady. Deidra—

D. i rememberd.

Walkin with max is not like regular dogwalking. theres no leash involvd,
so hell take off and you wont see im for a while, til he gets stuck sniffin a
tree or somethin [ he can get stuck in one spot for upwards of five minutes ]
but eventialy you hear his coller jingle and he goes zoomin by, off to the front
lines, then back to us to let us know its safe. this is the way dogs like to walk
by the way. leash walkins better than nothin but its no substitute, we might
as well stop tryin to act like it is.

D had some short legs, even for a short person, she was huffing justo
keep up, i had to keep makin myself slow down. but in spite of her struggles
she had no problem holding up her end of the conversation, and some of
mine as well—

so how ya likin athens? you met a buncha peeple?

actualy, yes.

not much of a conversationalist are ya, like who?

this guy jesse, he let me borow his phone.

they dont call him jesse whosevrywhere for nuthin,

didja talk to his mom?

just for a minute.

suck-ker. who else?

the guy in the x-ray cafe, paul, and this woman

who had her cat in a stroller.

i heard she attackd madi with a knife.

she didnt actualy use it.

not what i heard.

i talkd to the guy at that recordstore behind

the forty watt

todd?! that little facker, i luv the

shit  outa him, he has so many

records he can barely speak.

i like the way he talks.

i know, convee is awsom, once you get use

to it. oh and dude,  you should see how we

write. its absurd, you can spell shit however

you want, were totaly takin it back.

takin what back?

langwedge dude. ritten inglish.

from who?

from the cappers!

i dont follow.

oh dont tell me.


you were an english teacher, werent you? you were.

shit. sorry, a-l, i know you didnt mean to opress the

proletariat, you were only carryin out orders.

i dont think im opressin anybody by teachin em english.

yourright, sory. you didnt mean to anyway.

and how did you know im an english teacher?

it was a lucky guess.

did you talk to somebody?


then howd you know i was gona be in athens?

time out, o-k? can we take a minnit?

[ . . . ]

take a deep breath. . . let it out.

[ deep breath ]

good... now, you have an inquisitiv mind a-l,

i like that aboutcha. but sooner or later your

gona hafta learn to roll with the punches


hold on,

just hear me out— i understand your concern, i realy do. today has probly been a prety strange day for you. and it promises to get even stranger. but theres one thing i wana make perfecly clear— i am lookin out for your best intrests. no matter how things may appear. i will in fact do evrything in my power to help you, with whatever you need helpin with. you may not understand why, but i will. all i ask in return is that you keep an open mind, can you promise me that?

[ i considerd ]


and can you chill with the questions?

ill try.

y know what yoda would say. . .

[ she does a prety fair yoda ]

do, or do not. there is no try.

At some point D whipt out her machete [ did i mention she carried a machete? ] and hackd off an intruding branch with four neet blows.

andy keeps sayin hell get out here with the chainsaw but i aint

holdin m’breath.

she parted the branches to reveal a shady little road, barely wide enough for a car. it lookd familiar. at first i thought it was more dejavu. but no, i had been here. this was the other odd, the same road i walkd up with dave and kathleen, was it only a couple hours ago? it seemd like longer than that.

D said—

here we are, one-sweet-ninedy five.

i didnt actualy see the house, all i could see was a
wall of overgrown azaleas and a mailbox that said—

195 mailbox

nexto the mailbox there was a gap
in the wall of azaleas, i followd D and max inside.

It was a cute little post war cottage, lap siding, white with blue trim and
algae-green accents under the gutters. made me think of hansel and gretel
for some reason, i dont know why, it wasnt very fairytaleish.

a big water oak dominated the lot, no grass would grow underneath it,
just english ivy and leaves, two seasons worth at least. somebody made
a path to the front door out of random chunks of polishd granite, lookd
like leftovers from a tombstone factory. oh— and the red yugo was
parkd in the driveway.

max came bounding back, carryin a giant stuft animal— a
pink bunny rabbit almost as big as he was. dont be thinkin of a childs
toy, tho. it may once have been a childs toy, but this thing lookd like it d
been caught in a meatgrinder and dragd thru the mud, you could see
where maybe a dozen gashes had been hastily stitcht back together, the
right side of its face was missing entirely— grizzeld, i think is the word.
about as grizzld as a pink bunny rabbit can be.

max ran up to D, holdin the rabbit like a trophy.

dropt it at her feet.

goodboy, you got hubert cumberdale, now go

get shakpox!

max headed back to the house [ the door was
open ] and came back with a giant teddy bear in about the same shape
as the rabbit. this time he brought it to me.

D seemd pleasd.

tellin ya dude— hes a fan.

max led us inside, then went strait to
his waterbowl, i couldnt see him but i could hear his lappin from the door.

D said—

leme call andy realquick, then you

can hav the fone. meanwile make

yurself at home.

and she disapeard into the back.

While D went to make her call, i had a look around.

it was nice place, very homey, a little on the small side but well laid out. gave you a definat feeling of welcome when you walkd in the door. it smelld the way an old house does if its never been remodeld— old wood and mothballs and the residuals of years of gas heat. the front room was stuft full of grandma furniture and featured a beautiful but very dusty oriental rug. and bookcases, lotsa bookcases. the floors were in bad shape—they were good floors, oak—but the finish was completely worn away. if somebody didnt slap on some polyurathane soon there was gona be permanent damage, actualy there already was, there were grooves near the frontdoor, im guessin max nails, also a hole that indicated termites at some point.

max finishd drinking and joggd past me, pushd open the front door [ it made a squeaky sound ] and went out to the porch, where he plopt down in the middle of an old yellow couch. his water-drinking adventure was even more sloppy than id guesd, it almost lookd like hed been swimming.

khuh-khuh khuh-khuh.

[ this is the sound max makes when he pants ]

khu-huh khuh-khuh,

and he smiles while he does it, he has a great smile cause it carries up into his eyes. hes got these brown markings over his eyes that look like eyebrows, and they lift when he smiles.

he lookd like he was waitin for me to do somethin.

hey boy.

smile. look at empty spot on the couch. look back at me. look at

the couch.

you want me to sit with you?


max took up mosta the couch, he left just enough space for me to squeez in. no sooner had i done that than he deposited his head in my lap. he rolld onto his back and lookd up at me, tung lolling, so content it was contajus.

i slid my hand under his head and started scratchin at the base of his ear. he leand into it and did this moaning thing, like if a giant muppet-dog could purr.

D walkd out on the porch, talkin on her phone—

we may actialy need a second table dude, evrybody s gona be there.

johnson dragd his sorry ass all the way from portland, jon davies is

even comin out, and its his sabbath!

. . .

welllll. . . . hes comin  around. i mean i didnt hafta carry  im.

at least not once he came to. but you should see him and

max dude, lissen to this...

[ max groand while i scratchd behind his ear ]

y know max is actialy the one that found im. it was some

muthafuckin lassie shit

. . .

down by the creek, gettin filmd by taylor.

. . .

i gave him the option.

. . .

exacly! satan.

she hungup.

did you just say satan instead of goodbye?

not instead of, as an improvement upon. it means

i love you but lets not drag this out. quit while your

ahead, in convee as in all things.


[ max seemd to agree ]

suddenly-- a commotion...

max sat up—

saw somethin in the yard.


jumpd off the couch—


skitterd across the porch—

D lookd out—

is that?

max took the steps in one leap,

D right on his heels—

he was in the yard the whole time,

that facker.

ruf-   FRUFF!

Andys HOME!