“Mauro and Lily,” Rosie Servis

by MP

     Mauro is holding my hand in the dark and I feel lit by it. I do not want to sleep and I know I won’t sleep soon. I have the stray dogs of Chile on my mind.
      “Allie remembered there being a lot of stray dogs when she went to Chile, which reminded me that, yeah there were a lot of strays. They were just really sick. Hair coming out, skin peeling.”
      “I really don’t want to hear about it.”
      “I know. I could go on and on about how awful it was.”
     When they were hungry and when they had no limbs, when they were screaming, had skin rife with scabies, silent, shitting quietly in the street.
      “You know what you reminded me of by bringing up this about the dogs? I can’t figure out why. It’s got nothing to do with what you and Allie were talking about at dinner.”
      “What?”
      “The time I went to Max’s house to do drugs.”
      “Oh?”
      “Yeah. I don’t know. I can’t really remember it.”
     Clean and young and thin. God that boy’s a long boy. Mauro all limbs walking up ten flights to the top, the apartment on the top. Toes on lips of steps, heals in air. I grabbed the handrail. My back tipped.
      “I think I was drunk when I got to the apartment.”
      “Who were you with?”
      “Will.”
     I gripped Lily’s hand. I couldn’t help how hard I held it but it was like I needed to. I’m not falling. We’re in my bed, side by side.
      “Did you get high?”
      “I think so.”
      “Weed?”
      “Blow, I think, that time.”
      “Oh?”
      “But I can’t really remember it very well.”
     Mauro was strung out and already high when he got to the tenth floor
      “Were you still in school then?”
     and at the top step he did fall back, his hand slipping from the hand rail and his heels falling back with his back falling back, but Will, a step below him,
      “Yeah. The apartment was in Manhattan.”
     put his hands on Mauro’s back and said eeeasy and said eeeasy.
      “Was there a dog at the apartment?”
     Kept repeating easy.
      “No…”
     And because I kept on hearing it when, yeah, I was cool and easy and I was already walking through Will’s door, I said—
     FUCK, Mauro said, Will laughed, YOU.
      “What it a nice apartment?”
     The front door opened. Max was standing in the door, outlined in light.
      “Lily…I can’t remember this.”
      “You probably got high and can’t remember, that’s all.”
     Max started laughing. Both Will and Max were.
      “I feel like I’m…”
     Mauro felt the world….
      “Losing it.”
      “Come in,” Max said.
      “We’re thirsty and bored,” Will said, “And it’s highly likely that we’re going to crash on your couch tonight.”
     Mauro said, “No, we’re not.”
      “It’s all cool.”
      “No really. I don’t want to do that.”
      “You got anything for us man?”
     Max nodded.
     Because all the lights are on and because there is only one piece of furniture, a chaise in smooth angles like a sunbathing girl, and because the floors were polished cherry, it looked white, the whole apartment, sparkling and maybe even transparent, but that’s not right, the walls were a deep color, so chocolate that it all should be dark, opaque, inscrutable, but all the lights were on, overheads and floor lamps and desk lamps on the floor because there weren’t any desks, and so it hurt it gleamed. You couldn’t even see the line of coke in front of you that Max drew, immediately on the floor. And you took it though you didn’t know what you’re doing really. And as your head pulled up from the floor, nostrils flared, red, running, that’s when you noticed that the chaise in smooth angles like a sunbathing girl was talking.
      “Hey.”
      “That’s Rebecca,” Max said, pointing at the chaise with his chin.
      “Dude, you name your furniture. That’s tight.”
      “Do you have eyes? Do you have eyes? Do you have eyes?”
      “Haha. Does your other friend talk?”
      “Mauro, where are you?”
     He lets go of my hand. Without his, it slightly pulses with the blood that’s getting back into the skin. I feel a pang in my chest when he lets go. I don’t know why I should ache for every one of his movements.
     He parts the window curtain next to his bed.
      “What?”
     The air is cool on his face and the light from the street falls on his face.
      “Mauro,”
     There’s little sound from the street and the air does not move. Wired, patting his hand on his thigh in equal measured beats, he, a fluttering, says,
     “What”
      “Mauro, Mauro,”
      “is that”
      “Mauro, Mauro, Mauro.”
      “over there?”
“That,” Will said, “is a really big fucking really big cat.”
      “That,” Max said, “is not.”
     Mauro nodded.
      “It’s a dog.”
      “A pit bull.”
     Will grabbed his ears.
     Max started laughing.
      “I’m losing memories,” he was saying. “If it’s not happening to me right now it didn’t happen. Or if I’m not in a place where something once happened it didn’t happen. Or if someone doesn’t tell me that something happened it didn’t happen. Yeah. Mostly, if someone doesn’t say, Hey, do you remember, and then describes to me what they remember, then I don’t know. What the hell? What is it, exactly, that I am made up of? Experience? What? Huh? I think that this is not going to change. I think that this is going to continue. When I am old, I am always going to think…”
     The girl on the chaise reached out her hand to pet the pit bull.
      “Mauro?”
     oh god.
      “You have a strange look on your face.”
     A white couch.
      “Did you just remember?”
     In smooth angles like a sunbathing girl.
      “What happened that night?”
     When she went to pet the dog, when she reached out across the chaise her arm stretched out across the room to pet the dog, when she said what a nice dog, you you you, yes you
      “There was no dog.”
     It took a look at her, it had pearl teeth, you could see the
     Will started rocking, with his hands over his ears.
     pearl teeth.
     Max smiled.
     Mauro closed his eyes.
      “I remember…”
     In Chile, the dogs were hungry. Every morning Lily would come out of her host-family’s house and see the trash bags gutted, skinny dogs rolling in diapers and potato peels. She wanted to cry. Was there something she could do? They were so docile because they were so hungry. She asked the people who lived in the town, do you see this? What can we do? They had dogs themselves, which they kept behind fences. And though they said it was to keep the strays from their dogs, Lily saw it was the dogs behind fences that smiled, that if she came close enough, lunged with mouth flowing in foam.
      “What do you remember?”
     He shook his head. “Something terrible?”
      “What?”
      “I don’t know. Someone probably ODed or something.”
     He takes my hand again. I look at his face in the dim light.
      “Oh god. You think?”

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