I have been away, hospitalized with gastroenteritis and back with some horror stories of my roommate. She was something else, this woman, who would let out a yell in the middle of the night and wake me up to accuse me of stealing her pen, or her book, or her shoes. I walked softly around her, trying my best to become invisible but she hated that, too.
The hospital staff was sometimes curt with her but it seemed that treatment made no difference.
Home, home again. It’s good to be here.
The beach stretches a mile and along its mosaic sidewalks the famed Girl from Ipanema used to sashay. That song is still my favorite. Then her daughter took up the tradition, wearing, of course, a bikini as substantial as dental floss.
The length of the beach has the Copacabana Palace as its grand hotel, restaurants fill in the rest, and the one Renato and I frequented one day stood at one end. Our host, a hearty Brazilian man, promised us fresh-caught lobster. From the deck of the restaurant we watched the fishing boat come in, grind onto the sand, and a haul of lobsters taken inside. Our host went into the kitchen and brought out a lobster for us to admire. Here’s your lunch, Lucille, he said, beaming.
At this moment the lobster writhed out of his grip and fell to the floor, whence it scrabbled under the table. A waiter got down on his knees and tried to grab it but failed. Our host joined him there and amid much huffing and puffing and laughter, emerged with the frantic lobster in his hand, so back it went to the kitchen.
When my meal was finally served, steaming and with butter on the side, my stomach clenched and I had only to look at Renato, who swiftly traded his steak for my lobster. I noticed he didn’t eat much of it.
He had pulled an all-nighter before so I did not panic, but by the afternoon I was frantic. My next-door neighbor Gigi heard me calling and said from her side of the fence that she was coming over. She told me she had seen a black cat lying on the side of Skyline Blvd the day before. I’ll take you there, she said. Gigi had not made the connection to me when she spotted the cat but now realized it could have been Bijou.
But Bijou’s body was gone from the spot where she had seen it. We searched the area, then I came home and posted a message on our neighborhood network, Next-door.com, asking if anyone had noticed a black cat’s body and to please contact me if so.
At least five responses came back, and one of them was specific. Yes, the jogger had seen the body, and he would have brought it to me had he known my location. His conjecture that a vulture might have taken the body or that it may have been dragged off by another animal could have been omitted. I did not need to think of that, though I would have on my own anyway. And he must have been hit by a car.
So that’s it. No more sweet Bijou, whose little face I kissed whenever I picked him up to cuddle. He loved to travel, that one. I could no more have kept him locked inside the house than I could have kept a soul trapped in a box.