She sprang into the house like a honed hurricane, catching me couch-side with Raja the dog, living room television silent, off. Dishes in the sink. Nothing doing, just a lazy ape and his canine pal huddled in the elongated rectangle of evening sundown, across from an open, unblocked window. Startled and blank we blinked as Nik hurriedly talked. She'd entered and dropped her bags. Neither I nor the hound could think, yet shot up as the glass door crashed against the front porch loud as breaking billiard balls.
A breeze blustered through the five rooms and hall that composed our abode, out the study windows and kitchen side door, building an abrupt but agreeable momentum. Had us all moving. Test tubes in a centrifuge, filled with bubbling chemicals -- we got busy, crisscrossing paths back and forth at a growing pace. Straightening this and that. Messed up the bed.
Raja wandered from room to room; wagging as she followed Nik, then me; snuffling in the kitchen for treats; and periodically sitting adjacent, raising a paw for shakes. In general, loafing about gladly obedient.
My default setting accepts direction when lacking decision-making energy, especially at the hanging slumps of seasonally agitated depression, aching for daylight savings to end. And for Easter to come.
"You got home early," I finally mentioned, passing Nik in the hall. She to the kitchen with a stack of cups. Me lost with a vacuum, plugged in but not on.
"I wanna spend time with you before you leave," she tossed over her shoulder, flashing a wide-eyed and arched-brows, open mouth smile. On her way back she added with more of a curl to the edges of that Cheshire grin, "And we got stuff to do!" Her sharpest biters gleamed.
Afternoon austerity had my nostrils flinching at Cable's nearby dangling, lit cigarette. Not an appealing smell even during the years spent enslaved by it. He noticed my side glare and held out a gnarled blue little cardboard container. Different design on it than before, but I still recognized and recoiled.
"Yeah," he guessed. Then turned the enlarged emblem of his choice brand -- a silver, coat-of-arms style lion -- toward his squinting face. "They changed the box. Same thing, though. Want one?"
"I really don't."
But remained outside still. Stood and shook in jacketless solidarity beneath rolling grey skyhills that twitched kinetic lines and edges. A plowed and planted field wet with electrified rivulets. Flowing over the dome in waves like scrubbing bubbles, the foam imminently collecting, frothing over, and falling in frozen flakes or icy drops. Sleet and smoke cast down from cloud volcanoes.
"You don't want to be here at all, do you?" Cable asked as if for the first time.
But it could've been the second time and he and I both forgot. That's what happens when you phone it in, drugs or no. Wanting out of a stuck situation breeds unnecessary strife, the resistance only enhancing inescapable pains and woes. Knowing this doesn't automatically instill patient practice, though.
Regardless, people had asked this exact question of me many times now, throughout my lives. So maybe it no longer mattered who or when or where again. The answer apparently wouldn't change.
I chortled defensively, "It just depends."
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” -- Oscar Wilde
My default alignment refracts light at an eighty-five percent honesty rate, plus or minus ten depending on the situation. And more margin of error probably outward leaks via biased, blinded, or prejudiced perceptions and expectations. But that applies to all human incarnations.
Regardless and besides! This means that about a seventh of the time, I'm a liar.
Which probably equates to at least one recited or on-the-spot-devised, blank denial of shared reality per day (on average). An equivocated fib for every seven interactions. Some blind, stammering stab like, "I don't think so, sir. We aren't supposed to smoke in these, in here. Not even cigarettes. Can't say for anyone else, since it's a shared... I mean, a company vehicle, but... I doubt it..."
Sergeant Campbell's rebuttal stopped me short. "Because I can smell it," he said.
A surge of panic flooded my bloodstream, but the energy transferred to bullet-time with an instant intake of breath, pausing the game. Drew in through the nose and blinked my gaze away. Three trees at the intersection still shone with red and blue decoration and snow. Two SUVs flashed in the rearview mirror, which read east and three below. One gram or less of girl scout cookie in my backpack, passenger seat, though. Exhaled and made better eye contact than before, and the officer continued, "And all your windows are down..."