Carnage was flung to the four corners of the porch and I’d never seen such joy. I was having my one allotted cigarette of the day, post dinner as usual. Marion had given Jack the lamb bone from the stew. There’d been scraps of meat on it when he’d first set his teeth to it. He slobbered and growled a joyous little growl as he pulled it to bits. He shook slightly as he chomped the bone till it cracked. I smoked my cigarette and watched, silently.
Have I ever been that happy?
Jack tossed the bone a few feet away and scampered after it. No. I decided. Who has really been so happy, really. Maybe when I was a child I had some joy that came close. But, I can’t remember.
Jack is sleeping now, among his mess. I quickly light another cigarette in the hopes that Marion will think I am smoking it slow. She knows better. She comes out to scold me.
“Shh.” I tell her and point at Jack.
“What?” She says glowering at me from the entryway.
“He’s tuckered himself out. Let’s not ruin it.”
She looks down at Jack and rolls her eyes. She goes back into the warm and well-lit house.
“You owe me Jack; people have killed for the kind of peace you got right now.”
Jack takes a deep shuttering breath and falls deeper asleep.
“There’s never been a thing so beautiful as you like this right here Jack. You got it all figured out. The rest of us are just chasing our tails to the bitter end.” I say.
Marion hollers from the kitchen “You keep talkin’ to that dog I’m gonna have you locked up in a home!”
This startles Jack awake. He leaps up and sees me. He starts wagging his tail and comes up to my thigh. I pat him gently on the head. I feel like crying. I go inside and put on the kettle as Marion is finishing up the dishes. She bustles from table to sink, table to sink.
“You ever think we are doing everything damn wrong?” I ask her.
“No.” She says and uses some steel wool to drag a few burnt pork scraps from the bottom of a pan.
“But what if things were…” I can’t think of a word.
“Different? Better? Simpler? What if this and that. What a pointless damn question.” Marion said, brushing me off. I sigh and she breaths it in and sighs with me.
“It is what it is.” She says.
I chuckle. “Write that on my tombstone won’t you.”
She stops and holds the edge of the sink. “Asshole.” She mutters. She pulls off the dish gloves and slaps them onto the counter. She turns and walks out of the kitchen.
“It was a joke! I’m sorry.” I call after her. But she doesn’t come back.
Jack comes up and presses his face into my thigh. I scoop the burnt pork scraps out of the pan and let them down to him.
He scarfs them down and stays for a while, licking my fingers.