I ascend the stairs, and enter the living room to turn on their television. It displayed the same uniform static as mine had across the street. I try their radio and miscellaneous electronics as well with similar results. All the while Cleaver has his head cocked at me dubiously. I grab a Post-It from a desk and scribble nervously:
I don’t know what’s going on.
I stare at those words for a minute, glancing between them and the vacant street outside, offset by the already setting sun. Cleaver brushes against me and I jump a mile upwards. Shaking it off I continue:
I don’t know what’s going on.
I have your dog. Please come fill me in.
And after a pause:
There’s a bottle of wine in it for you.
Sticking the note to their front end table, I realize how illogical it was to offer them wine for their dog. Why wouldn’t they want to come get him? But as I stare at the little yellow scrap I can't bring myself to edit it.
I walk across the street with Cleaver in tow, and the first wave of bitter confusion really hits me. No people all day, no cars all day, no one protecting their homes, no looting, and no signs of panic or distress. It was beginning to feel like I’d imagined my life up until this moment. I stop in the middle of the road.
I hear the sound travel out my throat, bounce against the walls of the homes around me, down the streets on every side, and up into the air. I stand for a long moment, not even looking around, just listening. Suddenly, Cleaver joins me, howling long and loud in hopes that someone might hear him. When he is through we both wait, staring at each other.
Even as hysteria begins to take its first, solid grips on my psyche, I can’t get over the feeling that this is some elaborate practical joke.
It's Cleaver that's confusing me. Lucy let him wander, and has been gone all day, but left her front door wide open to the world? And where are my neighbors to the other side? Where is everyone? The hangover now worn off I feel the gravity behind the silence. I listen for minutes that drag on and on, and I hear signs of life, of dogs, of wind against rusty signs and garden decorations, of weather moving into town, but not of people. I gasp for air, realizing I haven't had any for quite a while. My hands on my knees I see my fingers shaking.
My feet slowly begin to carry me inside my home and Cleaver follows me. When I pass through the doorway I turn back towards the door and very carefully close and lock it behind us. I try the television and the internet again, same result.
“What’s the definition of insanity?” I ask Cleaver. He just cocks his head at me. The definition of insanity to him is bringing a 150-pound dog into your home and not feeding it. I grab some lunchmeat out of the fridge, “You can eat this, right? Just not chocolate. You are a dog; dogs can eat anything, right?”
He only moves into a begging position in response, his nose in the air, expectant. I feed him and he seems satiated. Clearly, I never had any intention to own dogs.
Crossing the room, I look towards my bed. It hasn’t really been a big day, and I’m afraid of what my dreams may bring in this silence. The logical next step is to go into town, on foot, and look for answers. At this point it seems fair to conclude answers aren’t coming for me. But, and it’s difficult to admit this even to myself, “I don’t want to go into town in the dark.”
Cleaver tips his head at me again.
“No, not even if you came with me.”
The idea seems even more sinister once I say it out loud.
“Let’s wait ‘till morning.”