TORONTO, A NOVEL: Chapter 34

And so while Bliss Carmen stapled up, everywhere she could, Homer Rubik’s exquisite posters of her missing dog, Fish—who had inexplicably wandered through the open door of one of the cars of a north-south subway train early one morning the week before and had been whisked up to Yonge and Summerhill before deciding to disembark—Supermodel Coal Blackstone and her photographer-cum-lover, Lincoln Ford, found themselves (thanks only to Coal’s insistence) dog-owners.
     “We simply aren’t dog people!” Linc kept insisting.
     “How do you know?” Coal replied, pouring them each a towering Kahlua and milk.  “We’ve never had a dog.”
     Fish sat in their spotless kitchen—spotless except for him—listening to their arguments and counter-arguments.  What he really longed for, he decided, was a nice brittle, slightly stale Crispy Crunch bar.  He was also experiencing the growing need to pee, and while he would normally have just cocked his leg at pretty much anything that protruded, he felt, somehow, that right now he ought to try to restrain himself a bit, just until he found out how the land lay, Fish-wise. 
     He sat—a small scruffy disturbance, a bit of canine soot in the sparkling eye of the Coal Blackstone kitchen—wondering what was next.
     “The next thing,” Coal announced to Linc, is a bath!”
     “You’re suddenly going to have a bath?”
     “No, Linc,” said Coal patiently, “he is,” she said, pointing at Fish.
     Linc was aghast.
     “Do you have any idea at all what it’s like to give a dog a bath?  Especially a dog that doesn’t want one?”
     “Yes,” thought Fish to himself. “Especially a dog that  doesn’t want one!”
     “Oh, come now, how hard can it be?”
     “You wait,” said Linc ruefully.  He watched Coal herd Fish towards the bathroom, and then listened—half regretfully, half amused—as she began to run water into the tub.
     “You think I should add anything to the water?” she called out to him.
     “Soap,” he yelled back.
     “I mean in addition to the soap.  Something like bubblebath?     Or Epsom salts? 
     “You got any beef-bone essence?” Linc shouted over the tumult of the waters.  “Or some distillate of chicken?”
     “Or chocolate sauce?” thought Fish to himself, drooling slightly at the thought of it.
     Thirty minutes later, Coal began to see what Linc had meant.
     “He’s really a mess,” she shouted out to linc.  “His coat is all greasy and matted.  And he doesn’t smell very nice.”
     “I noticed that,” said Linc.  “That’s why I was trying to talk you out of this whole idea.”
     Coal was not to be dissuaded.
     “I don’t think he’s ever had a bath in his life,” said Coal.
    “Probably not.”
    “I’m lifting him out now,” she told him.  “Come and help me.”
     Linc sauntered into the bathroom.  There was so much steam, he could hardly find them.  And there were puffy little clouds of soap foam everywhere in the room—clinging to the ceiling, clinging to the walls, on the floor.  Fish—who suddenly looked very small and, he hated to admit it, almost cute—was wrapped in a thick yellow towel that made him look a bit like a daffodil.  Coal herself was wet to the skin—a condition Linc found way more appealing than he wanted it to.
     “Soapy,” he said, looking around in disbelief.
     “My always perceptive photographer,” smirked Coal.
     “You look very…umm..well…attractive,” he said to her, unable to stop enjoying the way her sodden T-shirt clung prettily to her breasts and belly.
     Coal laughed.
     “You guys are never far away from your libidos, are you?
     Linc grinned.
     “In the old days…like five hours ago…” he said, “I would now spirit you off to our big white bed.  After helping you dry off.”
     “And in the old days…like five hours ago,” Coal told him, “I’d have loved to have you dry me off…and all the rest.  But now, my sweet photographer, we have company—and new responsibilities!”
     Fish wagged his wet tail.
     Linc’s heart sank.
     “We’re like parents now,” Coal told him.
     “Parents never get laid,” he said, despondently.
     “How do you know, Linc?” she replied jauntily.  “Have you ever been a parent?”