TORONTO: A NOVEL--Chapter 32

     The phone rang.  It rang in that jagged way phones ring when there’s someone in great agitation at the other end of the line.  Michael picked up his wristwatch from the bedside table and peered at it.  6am. 
     May stirred in her sleep.  Her black, black hair lay tangled on the pillow.  In the course of Michael’s turning over to peer at his watch, the duvet had slipped down to reveal one of he pearlescent shoulders, glowing in the early light like a waning moon.
     The phone continued to ring, and Michael found himself torn between answering it or ignoring it and returning to the soft welcome of May’s peaceful body, as warm, he thought to himself, as a croissant from the oven.  May always reminded him, when she awakened, of fresh pastry.
     “A crescent moon,” he said out loud, proud of his pun, so early in the morning.  He picked up the phone.
     “Michael?” shrieked the voice at the other end.
    “Of course,” he replied.  “At six in the morning, who else?”
     “It’s Bliss,” boomed the voice.
     “I know,” he said. “Everybody in the building knows.”
     May shifted in the depths of the duvet and turned to peer up at him.
     “Is anything the matter?”
     Michael smiled at her.
     “Only the fact that I’m on the stupid phone instead of cozy with you.” 
     May slipped down further under the duvet and tried to go back to sleep
     “Michael?  Are you there?  Who are you talking to?”
     “I’m talking to May,” Michael told her.  “Who else would I be talking to?”
     “Well,” said Bliss crisply, “I want you to talk to me!”
     “What about?  It’s six o’clock in the morning, do you know that, Bliss?”
     “Michael, Fish is gone!”
     “Really?” he said through a yawn.  “Where?”
     “For Chrissake, Michael, if I knew where, I wouldn’t be calling you!”
     “Why did you call me, Bliss?
     “Because I want you to help me find him.”
     Michael picked up his watch and strapped it on, looking around the room, at the bed with May in it, at his worktable, piled so high with books and papers he couldn’t see his laptop, at a huge all-blue painting on the wall above the bed—a painting he had made last year, having convinced himself it was his special, heartfelt homage to French artist Yves Klein—to the chair on May’s side of the bed, where, last night, she had carefully deposited her neatly folded jeans, sweater, bra and panties, and back to the bed again.  May, now having reluctantly given up the idea of more sleep, sat up in bed and stretched.  Her white breasts lifted and fell again, like foam on a wave.
     “Good morning” she whispered in Michael’s direction.  He placed his hand over the receiver.
     “Good morning,” he whispered back.
     “Michael??”  He had almost entirely forgotten about Bliss—no easy feat, he thought to himself.
     “Yes, I’m still here, Bliss.”
     “You’ve got to help me.”
     “But Bliss, I have no idea where Fish would go.  How am I supposed to find him?”
     “Well, you understand dogs,” she said.
     “No, I don’t,” he told her, rather more vehemently than he had meant to.  “When did you last see him?”
     “Just before I called you.”
     “Where was he?”
     “He walked right through the open door of a waiting subway car,” Bliss told him. This wasn’t as odd as it first sounded, given that she and Bliss lived—somehow--in the Spadina Subway station.
     “He took the first train!” Michael laughed.  “Ambitious dog!”
     “That’s not funny, Michael.  Where could he be?”
     “What train was it?  Northbound or southbound?”
     “What difference does it make?”
     “Well, I don’t know, it narrows the search by quite a bit!”
     “Okay, north.  It was a northbound train.”
     “I wonder where he got off?” said Michael, still only half serious about this whole thing.
     “Maybe somebody saw him,” Bliss suggested.
     “Maybe. Well, actually, I’m sure lots of people saw him.  Fish is an easy dog to spot, and difficult to forget.” Especially, thought Michael to himself, if he pissed on the legs of a few early-morning subway passengers.  As he was wont do do.
     “He’ll be hungry, poor lamb,” wailed Bliss.
     “He’ll be fine.  He’ll just steal a few Crispy Crunch bars from a newsstand.”
     “Or a Skor bar,” whimpered Bliss, now close to tears.
     “Sure,” said Michael.