This morning, about the usual time I get up for work, the wee Hammer laid her two front paws on the edge of the bed and laid a smooching on me. Just a little one. Then she went back to her blanket and with a sigh went straight back to her dog dreams.
I could do without the smooching, neither of my other dogs did this, but it is her way. My first one woke me up most nights to be let out in the middle of the night. That was her way. The second one only ever woke me up at night if he heard anything unusual in the neighbourhood. He would wake me by placing his cold as December's river water nose on my face.
It is good all dogs are different.
My partner Sonja has just left for work. She is not used to having me around in the morning. I would usually be hard at it by now. This December I am home rehabilitating a workplace injury. It will not be long before I aim myself back to work. I'm one of those people who likes to work or at least thinks he does.
My first job was delivering newspapers on my bike when I was 12 years old. I had an orange mustang I wrenched a paper carrier to. I bought the bike from my friend Jimi. It had two flat tires. I got two new tires for it, the back one was a slick.
It was so fucking cool.
My paper route did not have a lot of subscribers on it. Most of the people in that neighbourhood would rather buy a couple extra cases of beer each month than read the newspaper. But I slowly built my route up until I had to sit way back on my banana seat to keep the papers from tipping my bike on its front wheel when I left the paper shack with a full load.
The paper shack was an interesting place. An older boy was in charge. If you did not do what he said he would say something like, "Shut up you little fuck or I'm gonna punch your fucking head in!" Us paperboys used to fight among ourselves lots too. We were like a bunch of hockey players from different teams forced to drink in the same crowded bar.
Before I quit being a paper boy a girl was hired. Her name was Felicity. We did not like having a girl around but the older boy in charge of the shack told us to, "Leave her the fuck alone or I'll punch your fucking heads in." We all wished we had been a lot nicer to her when she got older and grew the biggest set of tits in our junior high.
None of us paper boys ever got famous or anything. But one of them could blow a string of snot out of his nose so long it reached from his spotty face to the ground without him even having to bend over and then snort it right back where it came from.
There were lots of dogs on my route, none of them friendly. I was bit by several of them. Dogs ran loose all over the place in those days. I carried big rocks to throw at some of them. Others I had an uneasy understanding with. Still others had to be pedalled by at full speed. An Afghan once poked its snout through a screen door to try and get me. The worst bite I got was right on my ass by a black and white Newfoundland Dog. It was a real dog. That customer was a weekend only subscriber so I decided to cancel their subscription.
The last house on my route had a couple of yahoo brothers living in it. Me and my gang used to play street hockey against the yahoos and their gang. One dark afternoon as I left their long gravel driveway and started to think about what mom had made for dinner I heard beebees whizzing by me. Pedalling fast as I as could I looked over my shoulder to see if it was them or maybe just their neighbours shooting at me. They had chosen their cover well, whoever it was, because I could not see the evil motherfuckers. They shot some more at me as I spun my slick in the gravel and into the night. Shooting at one another with beebees was a common thing in those days. You can only shoot so many cats before that gets boring as church.
In that neighbourhood now they shoot real bullets at you.