Caleb and I arrived back in Brooklyn last night, after a 14-hour ride home from Savannah. We had woken up early because Franke is infested with fleas.
“Are you sure this Frontline stuff is killing them?” I asked him of her medicine, on numerous occasions.
“Promise,” he said. “There’s just a lot of fleas in the South.”
In the North there were as well, apparently. Or at least there were on Franke, who after two baths with dish soap upon our arrival at 3:30am, and a night sleeping underneath the covers next to Caleb, was still scratching like crazy.
“I’m about to really lose my temper, but I know you’re tired,” I said to Caleb when we woke up at 9am covered in bites. He had just picked Franke up to show me that she did not HAVE fleas, but rather was just itchy, only to find a flea crawling across her tender stomach. He pinched at it futilely.
“What you’re going to do right now is take Franke outside, and fix this somehow,” I continued. “And I’m going to go back to sleep.”
Two hours later, I woke up to an empty house. Hoping that Caleb was at the vet, I called him.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m sitting on the front stoop,” he said.
“Why?” I said.
“I’m waiting for the medicine to start working,” he said, emphasizing his exhaustion in a manner only I’m familiar with, given the non-verbal codes we’ve established in the year that we’ve been dating.
“I’m coming out,” I told him.
He was sitting there, shoulders slumped over. Franke was tied to the stair rails. They both looked up at me, forlorn.
“Oh god,” I said. “Let’s just bring her in.”
“I am starving,” Caleb moaned. Caleb claims that if he doesn’t eat when he’s hungry, he faints, which I’ve never seen. Whenever he makes a claim he can’t support in the future, I’m going to call it a “Flea Fallacy.” I didn’t tell him that, however.
“What can we get you to eat?” I asked, trying to affect “loving girlfriend.”
“Look at that gigantic dragon fly,” he responded, pointing at a gigantic dragon fly that had landed on the tree next to the garbage can.
“Pretty,” I conceded, swallowing my gentle fury.
It settled only for a second, and then flew to the edge of the sidewalk.
Next to it, an elderly man wearing a white t-shirt, black dress pants, and black dress shoes was dragging a garbage can to the curb. When he saw the dragon fly, he gathered a mass in the back of his throat with a deep, guttural rumble. Then he hocked a loogie directly onto the back of the dragon fly, pinning it to the pavement.
“Fucking idiot,” he cackled. In a few seconds, he was back inside his basement apartment.