It was raining, so when Scoobie doubled back to look at a flyer taped to the street sign pole, Byrd hunched under the sandwich store awning. His hands in his pockets made his whole coat shake.
“Lookit here, now, ” Scoobie coughed without covering his mouth. Then he spit on the sidewalk before continuing. He moved his burned finger along with the words as he read the flyer to Byrd:
PICKLES ran away from yard on Saturday.
7 year old wire haired Dashaund
Timid but answers to his name
$500 Dollar Reward if found
“And then see here, they wrote Ree-ward – one, two, three, fo’ more times in the corners. See?!!”
Byrd just looked down at the soaked cigarette butt. Had he been able to focus that far from his face, he could have considered the way the tobacco flakes shone through the translucent white paper. Or counted the little silver gun powder rings, who’s color was, suddenly, more defined – almost in raised metallic relief. But really, all Byrd thought about was the vomit knot tied around his midsection. That sick which threatened to double him over in pain.
“See here now, Byrd, we is going to find us self’s a little poochie,” Scoobie confidently plotted. He wiped his fingers across his drooping eyes, Byrd often saw that white boy pull his eyeballs straight out of his head that way. No matter how fucked up they were, Scoobie always got them back in by the time they come down.
“Now, what now?”
“Damn ole man, listen up! This ‘ere sign dunn tole us how we’s gonna make sum bayank.”
“REEEEEEE WARD! Damn you ain’t pay attention to shit, do ya?”
Byrd laughed, but mostly at the way Scoobie tilted back and forth on his heels as he shouted.
“How easy is it to find us a little lost dog? Easy,” Scoobie said, “Gawdamn we see us doggies damn near everywheres we go, donwe, Byrd?”
“Perhaps. But how many of them is this here lost dog? Not a single one so far.”
“Sheet is you a pessamiss,” Scoobie shook his head and nearly took a nose dive into the sidewalk.
They had started walking again. “I do not know, Scoob. Even if we see this dang little fella, how we catch ‘em? I mean them little dogs move fast. My auntie had a little shitzoo that could book it. Once it got moving nothing was faster. Not even a kid on a bike.”
“Kid on a bike?” Scoobie picked at a scab on his ear, “What the fuck you talking about?”
Byrd stared at his young campaion. Scoobie’s attention was twitchy and errant but strangely focused – like someone manically channel surfing the same four channels. Scoobie claimed Attention Decifit Disorder. Byrd just thought Scoobie was an asshole.
They walked a few more blocks in silence. Or at least without speaking. Neither of them were ever silent. These two were like a small marching band playing groaning experimental tunes made from deep chest hacking coughs, snot-pulling snorts, and other escaped low level bodily gasses.
Out of habit, they followed a set path toward their regular dealer’s block. Some days he would be outside, somewhere. Other days, like when it was pissing rain, he would be wrapped in an “Indian blanket” on his porch or holed up in that car that never moved from in front of his place. They’d tap on the steamed up windows, hoping he’d roll it down low enough to hand out the little bag of drugs.
Scoobie started spending the money. He subtracted sums. He added others. His strange monologue was impossible to follow as the money doubled, tripled and then shrunk, depending on what he planned on buying.
“Enough smack for a year? Not possible. A month, set them up good. Maybe rent a room to get out of the rain. How about getting some new shoes.” On and on and on. Byrd did not listen.
“Scoobie, shouldn’t we find this damn mutt before you go off spending money you ain’t even earned yet?”
Scoobie stopped dead. He looked up and down the old man, “Damn Byrd. How hard is it gonna be finding this damn lost dog? Easy. So easy, its like we already done it.”
“Except we haven’t,” Byrd rubbed his eye as rain dripped from his eyebrow.
“Except we will.”
They stood looking at each other for a few more minutes before they walked on.