TORONTO, A NOVEL: Chapter 33

Fish, having peed against a couple of subway seats and—as was usual with him—against the legs of a few early-morning, northbound passengers (one of whom, a young woman, seemed mightily displeased with him for showering her red alligator pumps) decided he had worn out his welcome, and, when the train ground to a stop, trotted out through the open door of the car and out onto the platform of the Summerhill Station.
     Subway Station platforms were home to Fish, living, as he did, at the Spadina Station (north-south line).  But this one, he noticed, wasn’t exactly like the one where he and Bliss Carmen lived.  And so finding nothing to detain him at trainside, he mounted the steps at the end of the platform and found himself out on the street.
     Fish hadn’t seen many cars and trucks. Mostly just streetcars.  And Yonge Street (for that’s what it was) seemed especially busy, just at the moment, with hundreds of these small, fast, non-streetcars zipping up and down.  He did notice, though, that from time to time, they’d all come to a halt together, all at the same time,   He also noticed, being a smart pooch (his brain acute with candy bars), that whenever all the cars stopped, certain people, who had been waiting on the sidewalk, now took advantage of this lull, and stepped out bravely, moving between the throbbing vehicles, now momentarily arrested, heading quickly for the other side of the street.
     And that’s what Fish did.  Which landed him safely on the south-west corner of Summerhill and Yonge.  To Fish, this corner looked almost like the one from which he had just departed except for the presence there of a large warehouse-like building there. Its door was ajar doors, and from inside, an insistent, abrasive kind of music pulsed out onto the street.
     Fish liked music.  And open doors.  So he went in.
     The building was mostly dark, but there was a large open space near its centre which burned with light brighter than the sunlight he had left out on the street.  Fish moved carefully closer.  Just close enough in fact that the edge of the pool of light reached out and gathered him into its all-pervasive glare.  Fish’s spiky hair and his bristly whiskers suddenly looked as if they had caught on fire.
     There was a shriek. 
     “What’s that?? screamed a female voice.  Fish looked back into the shadows behind him and couldn’t see anything.
     “What?  What on earth do you mean?” replied a tense, harried, impatient male voice.  Suddenly there were agitated, questing voices everywhere and then all the lights came on.  Fish stood there, in what had been the veiling comfort of shadow, now entirely revealed.  He felt more lost and out of place than ever.
     “My god, it’s a dog!!” said the female voice.
     “That’s a dog??” said the male voice.
     Fish mustered the canine equivalent to a wry and hopeful smile and wagged what passed for his tail.
     “A spook!” cried another voice.
     “A shade!”
     “A little hairy Manticore!” cried a fifth voice—belonging to someone who had clearly been doing some reading.
     Then the female voice spoke again, softer this time.
     “It’s just a strange little dog and—oh dear—he seems to be lost!  Oh, Linc, let’s take him home and look after him!”
     “Coal, we don’t live like that.  We’re not stray dog people!”
     “Well maybe we ought to be.”
     Fish couldn’t have known it, of course, but he had inadvertently wandered into a fashion shoot.  Coal Blackstone, the supermodel who now shown him such compassion was being photographed by her favourite photographer and sometime lover, Lincoln Ford.  The floor under the area’s pool of light was sandy, and Coal was dressed in a crisp blue-and-white, and therefore vaguely nautical two-piece swimsuit—like two signal flags flying from the trim navy torpedoboat of her body.  She stood before Linc’s cameras as if she were the sole inhabitant of a Pacific atoll and were patiently waiting for rescue.  The only incongruity in the scene was a big pink beachball resting near Coal on the sand.  Coal had protested that it was unlikely that a castaway would come ashore armed with a beachball, but Link had felt at the time that the scene might well be re-jigged into something more domestic—like as frolic at Malibu. 
     But now a scruffy little dog has washed ashore—or at least trotted into the scenario.  And the on-again-off-again beachball concern was now made irrelevant, however, by Fish’s taking a liking to the big pink sphere, and cocking his back leg against it.
     “Aww geez, look at that!” fumed Linc, pointing to the steaming beachball.
     “Well, now we’re committed to the atoll!” laughed Coal.  “C’mon Link, let’s finish up.”

     Meanwhile, unwilling to wait any longer for Michael to show up and help he search fur Fish, Bliss had gone over to the studio of her friend, painter and short-order cook, Homer Rubik—who was soon at work producing “Lost Dog” posters for her.  He was taking an awfully long time about each one of them too.
     “Can’t you hurry it up?” Bliss asked him.  Time’s going by and who knows how far Fish has got to?”
     But Homer couldn’t be hurried.  Each Fish-poster he made was a small renaissance-style masterpiece, jewel-like, immaculate.