It’s another night of massaging farts out of the Chihuahua’s eighteen-year-old digestive tract. He twists his abdomen and whimpers and I hold a moment of hope that this is it. Nothing.
“Don’t worry darling,” I whisper, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Truth is, I haven’t been anywhere in weeks. I made a commitment to the Fonz that I’d help him exit the world on his own terms. I guess I didn’t know what I bargained for. He devours another GasX in a paper-thin prosciutto wrapper and I resume the massage.
Sparkling confetti flickers on the chair by the window. I rub my eyes as the flecks coalesce into a figure.
“Do I know you?”
“Chris Pine. Hello.”
“The ghost of Chris Payne? Are you an evil spirt or something?”
“No, it’s Pine, Chris Pine. Not a ghost. It’s astral projection.”
“You can look it up later. I came because I’m needed. May I?” He gestures towards the Fonz.
“Be my guest. I’ve been at it for hours.”
I sit across the room and light a cigarette. “You mind if I smoke?”
Chris shakes his head and takes my spot on the sofa. He pushes his blond hair behind his ears, rubs his hands in a ritual of readiness. He massages gently, starboard side, rib cage to tail.
“It could take hours,” I warn him. “You have a dog?”
“Yes, he’s a—”
Fonzie relaxes and rolls over on his side, finally asleep.
“You did it! Thank you!”
Chris begins to dissolve.
“Is it the fumes?” I ask, tucking my nose into my collar when the odor reaches me.
“No, no. My work here is done so I’m being pulled back to Venice. Either that or Styles is about to….”
As his voice fades into the stillness of night, Chris’s essence whirls into a funnel and escapes through a crack in the front window.
I crawl into the sleeping bag at the foot of Fonzie’s sofa and settle in for the longest sleep I’ve had in weeks.