M had a dog named Belly who spoke to me only once.
I woke to my first morning in Russia and checked on M. His eyes were open, tinted blue. He was cold.
“Son of a bitch.” I said to the corpse. Belly, asleep beside the corpse of M, popped an eye open. He watched me. I left for the kitchen. On the kitchen table the vial of The Water of Life sat.
I put on coffee and mixed in a few drops. I carried it into M’s room once it’d cooled a bit.
Belly sat up and watched me. “This is weird.” I told him. He nodded sympathetically. I took the corpse and propped it up against the wall. I pried open the cold dry mouth and sent in the coffee. The eyes of the corpse went black. I cried out and leapt back.
“Oh, good. It’s you.”
I caught my breath. “Yeah. Yes, why wouldn’t it be? I told you I would.”
M stretched out his arm’s in front of him, his left shoulder cracked.
“Oh, yes, well, you know how death is like a door?”
“Oh…” he frowned, “well, it is. And, sometimes I come back to…” he took a moment to riffle through the notepad of his thoughts, “…differences,” he decided.
“But! I’m glad it’s you. Let me know if you ever wake me up and it isn’t you, won’t you?”
“I’ll do my best I suppose.”
M smiled again. “That is all any man can ask for, hope for, or expect. Now, I need to get some sleep.” M laid back down.
“Right.” I took the empty coffee cup back to the kitchen. Belly followed.
I rinsed the cup, refilled it with some coffee for myself and sat down at the kitchen table to smoke a cigarette. Belly watched me from the door.
“Do you have any idea how hard that all was without thumbs?” he said.
“What?” I said, but he’d gone back into the bedroom. I lighted my cigarette and sighed.