chapter 16


-  -  – - - - - - -–- ferminas medicine - – - - -   -   -


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Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell, Woke up refreshd as hell,

but d i s o r i e n t e d , d i s o r i e n t E d d i s o r i e n t e d  it took me a second to figure out where i was—

on the front porch couch, aka butter. no idea how long id been asleep,
but it was pitch dark outside.

i found D in the kitchen, talkin on her phone.

why dont you tell em to pick on somebody that deservs it?

[ . . . ]

i dont care. i will drive there personly and take it down with a

sledgehammer if i hav to. im not bein hyperbolic, i got one

in the hatchback that would do the job quite nicely.

[ . . . ]

she noticed me then.

oh, he just woke up. satan!

she hung up.

mornin sunshine.

how long was i—  what time is it?




[ great, now your never gona be back intime to pickup claire ]

i cant blieve i slept so long.

[ and what is your plan, exactly? ]

are you refreshd?

i guess so.

you gues so? dude theres no nap like a butter nap.

it was a pretygood nap.

but now your disoriented im sure. sit tight an ill fix ya some tea,

you ever had poo-ehhr? it tastes like an old leather boot, its exquisit. ive also got
earl grey with extra bergamot, and 拉普山小種/正山小种.


lapsang souchong.

anythings fine as long as it has cafeine.

Altho what i realy needed was to talk to claire.

i askt to borrow Ds phone. she threw it at me.

i took it out on the front porch, for privacy.


8 1 7 etcetera,

i didnt get her—big suprize—all circuits were busy. this is actualy quite common in athens, tho i didnt know that yet, and it was starting to seem like circumstances were conspiring to keep me from talkin to claire.

D appeard on the porch with two steaming mugs of tea.

this should do ya up right.

she handed me one.

who are you? [ said a man with a british accent ]

the new numbatwo [ said another man ]

[ Ds ring tone. it was from the prisoner ]

who is numbaone?

you, are numba six.

if thats johnson, i swear ta god.

i lookd at her phone.

its johnson.

he needs to learn patience, just put it in my pruss.

its right there nex to my chair.

beside the rocking chair was a big brown purse.
i pict it up and lifted the flap . . .

but something was in there.

something alive, i think.

a tiny, quivering, creature, of some sort.
it took me a second to accept that it was a dog but thats what it was—
a teacup chihuahua, a product of the kind of inbreeding that comes from
standards like apple-dome skull, thanks a-k-c.

the poor things eyes bulged out so far i had the urge to push em back in with a stick or somethin. its tung was just lyin there, stickin out the side of its mouth. its tail lookd like itd been bent and flattend with a bench vise. it was dressd in a coat made out of an old sock. the most pitiful living thing id seen in a long time. i wanted to do somethin for it, i just didnt know whether to save it or put it out of its mizery.

theres a— dog. in your purse.

that would be fermina.

[  where did i know that name from?  ]

she looks sick.

is she quivering?


that means its time for her medicine. bring er here,

ill show ya howta do it.

you want me to give that dog medicine?

dont be skeerd a-l, just reach in and grabber.

but i was scared.

she wont bite. or if she does, her teethre so rotten theyll just

fallout, heh=heh.

fermina made one of her eyes stop rolling [ the other rolld constantly,
she was wall-eyed ] and traind it on me. she seemd to recognize me as
something that possibly did not want to kill her.

she likes you, see? she s barely afraid for her life.

i reachd in and pickd her up. it wasnt that bad.

oh, and i rememberd where i knew the name from— the
heroine of love in the time of cholera, one of my all time favrite books
tho i barely remember any of it.

i tried to hand fermina to D.

im not takin er. just setter down. shell stay.

i put her nexto me on the couch. i was afraid shed fallover when i letgo, but she managed to stayup on her own. altho there was somethin weird with her back legs. she kept pickin em up, one then the other, like she was standin on hot pavement.

Andy walkd in, lookin concernd.

dont make im do fermina, D. he jus got here.

hes been here like halfa day already.

whats wrong with her legs? i askd

leg-perthys disease D

but you know whats awsom? andy the leg part dudnt have

anything to do with legs. one of the scientists who discoverd

it just happend to be named legg.

the irony is unfortunatly lost on fermina.

then fermina did something that took my pity to new heights. she tript while standing still. in the middle of a leg switch her legs got tangled and down she went.

fermina lay there on her side, legs flailing,
lookin like an overturnd beetle. finely i couldnt take it anymore,
i grabd a hold of her—

at the touch of my hand she emitted a hot squirt
of urine, suckd in her tung, and began to choke on it.

D reachd over and pulld ferminas tung out of her mouth.

better hurry  up and get that medcine inner.

D rooted around in her purse and came out with a botle of what lookd like prescription cough syrup.

what kinda medicine is it?

ferminabarbital. phenobarbital, tecnicly. but fermina

has made it her own D switchd to a baby voice

havent you, my preshus liddle nasty?

fermina quiverd.

D pinchd her cheek.

fermina snift at Ds hand. you could see her tiny brain
working. wait a second, thats a hand. snif... a familiar hand. snif-snif...
a flicker of recognition.... Deidra!

ill fill it up this time D but for future refrence its five cc’s.

she put a syringe in the bottle and drew up some a the syrup.

showd me how to stick it in ferminas mouth.

it wasnt hard, she was missin half her teeth.

you cant shoot it in all at once or shell choke. do it a litle at a time,

slow and steady. and keeper mouth closed, so she has to swallo.

i squirted the medicine into her mouth, slow and steady.

fermina gagd.

for a minute there  it was a toss up whether she was gona swallow it
or choke to death.
but in the end she swallowd it. or mostof it. a little bit
dribled down her chin so that it lookd like she was bleedin from the mouth.

then, sudenly, she relaxd.

so sudden i thought she might be dead—

until i heard her raspy breath.

D held out a hand.

i past her the limp dog.

she put her in her purse,


goodnight sweet prince.

and closed the flap.

she looks so peaceful i said

sleep is like a little death, isnt it fermina?

do you think she wants to die?

oh, she dudnt just wana die, al andy she wants D

to kill her. thats why she showd up on our doorstep

that fateful morning two years ago.

and oneday i shall, my stinkee littel angel.

there was somethin stuck to my shirt. somethin nasty. at first i thought it was a one of ferminas toenails. but it was more like one a those sharks teeth thats been worn down in the ocean and maybe has algae growin on it.

i think one of her, teeth, fellout.

leme see.

i handed it over.

it is a tooth. here, keep it, its her gift to you.

she offerd me the tooth.

i recoild. tho secretly i desired it.

thats o-k.

i know you wannit. here, ill put it in your pocket tee.

she put it in my pocket.

so we better think about headin soon, yall D johnsons prolly

havin a fit as we speak.

you dont think he actialy showdup at eleven? andy

you know he always had a penchant for time-natzary.

yeah, but eleven?

at least hell hav jondavies to keep him company.

thank jeezus for jondavies.

suddenly- -


max jumpd off the couch—

ran down the steps—

into the yard—

makin a beeline for the street.

i yelld,


i was about to run after him—

but andy put out a hand to stop me.

its o k man, hes just doin his job.

dogs gota hav a job D

peeple dont come by here without goin

thru max andy

your not worried hell get hit by a car?

if you live in fear whats the pointa livin? D

max was under the oaktree, sniffin the butt
of a dog, one a those snubnosed jobs. he didnt have a leash, but there
musta been a person attachd to him cause i heard somebody shout—

look, buddy, its MAX!

max ran up to the man, gave him a drive by,

then ran back thru the yard, hotly pursued by the snubnosed dog.

followd momentarily by the man.

Whass up yall?

i recognized him. julien. the piano player from bluesky.

sup, J D said

what brings ya ta these parts?

[ andy did a prety decent johnwayne ]

just on a walk i reckon [ snif ] hows the cree-ub?

you know, reprazentin with the g-a-b,

speakinawich, meet our newest—

[ D beamd ]

A-L? julien askt

just al.

huh, i heard it was a-l. well its niceta meetcha.

julien is the perfect mix of french and alabama.
i wanted to bite his face almost imediatly.

so how ya likin athens so far?

its startin to grow on me. which is a good thing, since

im basicly stranded here.

i know. its tuff when you firs get here.

oh im not stayin. im just here til i can get my car fixd.

til tomoro, hopefuly.

tomoro, huh? [ snif ] too bad you gota leave so soon.

id like to come back. someday when i hav more time.

y’knowhat they say about athens?

whats that?

its like a blackhole.

you hadnt heard that one yet? D

i kinda figured it out on my own.

While we hungout on the porch, the two dogs playd in the yard, chasin eachother around, peein on things, sniffin eachothers butts, they ran somethin up a tree. i had an extension of the earlier insite re: the inadequacy of leash-walking— dogs need to play. its important to the development of their souls.

So what timer yall goin out? julien

presently andy

anon D

early, huh?

earlyish. what time is it now?

ida know.

do none of you hipees have a watch?

you have a phone, D.

its in my pruss.

your pruss is five feet from you.

yeahdude whats yer point?

hey buddy julien you ready to roll?

buddy ran circles around julien, his tung hangin nearly to the ground.

you readyta roll, buddy?

buddy was ready to roll.

oh hey julien were workin on 1060 tomoro. blowin insulation.

who is?

whoever comes. yall, i hope. therell be mustard samwiches.

will jondavies be there?

ida know, i havent asked im.

you dont ask jondavies dude, you tellim. he has to do it

cuz of his god.

its true andy

if i see him i will definatly tell im hes workin for me.

oh youll see im. cause your comin out tonite remember?

i know, D [ snif ] i wouldnt miss it for the world.

you betternot be front n on our turf.

i dont be front n.

well see bout that.

you will see. buddy waitup!

When they were gone, D said—

s’yall bout reddy?

actualy, do you think i could get a ride to the hotel? i said

i havent even started tryin to deal with my car yet.

aint nobody gona fix your car tonite, a-l. andhey, come
downtown and maybe youll run into c-fouls. buyim a drink and hell come
lookat your car tomoro. buyim two and he might not even charge you.

if its money your worried about al, dont be andy

you wont pay for a thing tonite. unless you buy c-fouls a drink. and thats like
an investment on your car.

i need to get up early tomoro, tho.

dude, theres nothin wrong with havin fun. stop

feelin so guilty all the


you cant say D-nazi willy nilly D turnd to me a-l,

i know you love claire, and your worried about gettin back to her, and were
gona help ya do that, ok? toomoro. but theres nothin we can do about it tonite
so you might as well

were just glad to have you here, al andy and if you

dont wana go out, thats totally your call. . .

they were lookin at me.

maybe ill catcha ride. i can only hangout for a minute tho.

then im walkin to the hotel.

great, its setteld.

D grabd her purse.

max knew what that meant. he ran to the driveway and stood by the yugo.

sorry max D

why cant he come? that was me

do you wana be responsible for im when he starts drinkin white russians? which he will do, mind you, if you lettim within a mile of downtown. you cant just get wasted and forget about im.

i dont drink.

if you reely wana be in charge of a drunk dog—
who still has his balls—the hole night. you keep talkin like your gona
wander off to texas orsomethin.

no, your right. sorry boy.

sorry max, we needja to stay here and guard

the house.

max wasnt fallin for that tho.

we had to wrangle him inside, then squeez ourselvs out thru a crack in the door and slam it behind us.

i felt so guilty i peekd my head
inside to say one last goodbye, and to lettim lick me on the mouth.
it was sad thinkin id never see his sweet face again.