I have always loved funerals with the same passion I hated weddings, while one seems so honest the other seems no more than a tissue of lies. So though I had earlier stepped from a room of brain dead joviality I now stepped back into one where each person was weighed down with the weight of their own sins and recriminations.
At last I was one of the crowd and they hated my smile.
Beside me Radu kept at my heel as if he was a long-time friend, his huge head scanning back and forth between the crowd as they stared with wide eyes, stunned at both of our alien awareness.
“Get that horror out of here!” Someone screamed.
“It was locked out for a reason!” Someone else called.
“Radu lives,” I shouted back, “and Radu’s heart beats and this ‘horror’ is as worthy of warmth and love as any of you!”
“We will not stay here with that animal!” A voice called and a murmur of accent rippled through the crowd.
“Then someone must leave.” I replied, my soft tone carrying unnaturally from the eaves above to the board beneath our feet; and I did not know whether my snarl, or Radu’s, was the fiercest.
Radu’s teeth were magnificent curves of beauty, as the roar tore from him his head swept in an arc and they gleamed and seemed to grow. One moment Radu was a teddy bear and the other he was a beast and my heart sang at his wanton rage at the crowd.
The joy began deep down in my stomach and it bubbled and rose until it forced its way out of me in a bark of laugher that made my spine tingle and my lungs ache. Breathlessly I doubled over and roared again and through the roars Radu and I shared I heard the screams as people fled.
Neither of us moved, neither of us even knew who was running where. Neither Radu or I cared, instead we were absorbed by their feckless fear. Fear of what their eyes brought them and their hearts ignored. Fear of that which was different rather than tolerance to that which brings joy.
I fell to my knees and I felt Radu’s huge head nuzzle against me and I thought of a dog that once thought it owned me. She had been tiny as Radu was huge but both carried with them that same love that swept off them in waves.
They would have been friends; as I had been – I hoped – to both of them.
Radu pushed me with his nose and I fell backward.
The room was empty, no longer a wedding or a wake and ready for whatever would fill it.
“Home.” I said before I even knew the word was forming in my mind.
I imagined a counter, and one became real, then an old elevator with a metal grated shutter instead of a door and this became real too.
I sat back and felt Radu’s mighty side against my spine, and then his jaw rested on my shoulder as he looked at the counter as if considering it.
I considered it too.
“Welcome to Hotel Radu.” I said, and the bellboy appeared.
He was tall and narrower at the waist than seemed possible for his survival. His large eyes bugged out slightly and I thought of the character of Igor from Young Frankenstein. Instantly I knew that his name was Marty and so I said, “Show us to our room;” and so Mart did.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 22