Bob’s New Boat

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The spiritual presence of a face had haunted Betty for several weeks. Not just one face, really, but the constant awareness that she was seeing someone’s soul every time she looked at their features above the neck.

Pedro wanted a banana and Betty was standing in front of the bananas so that Pedro had to stand in front of Betty to get to the bananas, and as soon as he got his bananas, he turned around, and there was Betty. Betty looked into Pedro’s face, an ugly face with a beautiful soul and a desperate extravagance, a face of flamenco music and gangsters. She felt herself getting lost in there.

Without a word, Betty followed Pedro and Betty’s dog followed Betty. The three of them were moving down the sidewalk like children headed for an adventure. Just then Betty’s dog Bob raised his wet nose into the teeming air and sneezed like a garbage truck. A Broadway show tune was playing in the nearby alley. Nobody was singing along.

They stopped to watch Pedro’s neighbors digging in their garden. Someone said the landlord was screaming for the rent. A juicy little mouse was scrabbling in the potatoes, but Bob didn’t notice. He was too busy sneezing.

Pedro’s face was rich indeed and its asylum was no longer empty. It was filled with unexpected generosity. So was his rundown apartment. Betty admired the landscape and Pedro let the journey continue.

One of Pedro’s bananas tasted green, but it was a lifeboat. Pedro’s beard smelled of pomegranate. Pedro rewarded the banana peel with a gesture of humorous bravado. A crack in Pedro’s bedroom window extended past the frame. Pedro’s court-appointed lawyers couldn’t understand the implications.

Yes, Betty had become an anomaly and Bob was the anomaly’s dog. Meanwhile, Pedro had grown fully intent on becoming the father of just about anything.

So Pedro rowed and Pedro rowed. Pedro rowed so hard he rowed his lifeboat right into the alley where everyone could see it. A different Broadway show tune was playing. A different dog was overlooking a juicy little mouse. Most likely it was a different mouse.

The tremendous oceanic depths of the new adventure’s synonyms were contained in the impossible visibility of Pedro’s boat. Pedro’s lawyers disguised the exposure, which made the rowing look like dancing.

Pedro’s best interests were no longer in Pedro’s range of prior investigations, which, let’s face it, sooner or later were either going to expand to Betty again or a great deal of sadness, Bob or no Bob.

So Pedro struggled and struggled and said something enormously inappropriate. Which was to be expected and made the lawyers chuckle.

When the time came, as it always does, that the participants separated, Betty got Bob and the toothache hiding in the pile of potatoes where the mouse had been. Pedro kept the lawyers and the artificial beard.

Bob got the rowboat, fully equipped with a wide variety of show tunes, but the banana peels, of course, disappeared into the sunset because they could not be rowed by a dog. On the face of it one could still find a disturbing attendance not adequately foreshadowed by anyone’s reluctantly departing essence. One could dedicate to it. One could be haunted by it. One could persist. As one does when one wants something one doesn’t have. You don’t need good intentions to anticipate a soul.