39 Scentsation

Pocano had mixed feelings about living in the penthouse and was relieved that his visits there were only occasional. On one paw, having the whole attention of his owner (or even better when Gertie was around, of both his owners) gladdened his doggie heart; at Asphodel Meadows, he had to share attention with all the other dogs. On another paw, being a bloodhound stuck on the top floor of a high-rise, he was a dog taken out of the country. But they couldn’t take the country out of him. Up here, there wasn’t much to keep his senses occupied. No place to roam. This day was starting out with a definite change of pace.Chapter 39 scent whole white small

“Come on then, Pocano, let’s get going.” Gervase said as they headed toward the sidewalk on Prospect. “Lots to do today.” It was still before seven and the morning stampede of vehicles, bikers, joggers, dog walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers was in full swing. Now this was paradise, sensed Pocano, getting his nose into everything at once, his instincts reborn. Everything was wonderfully different from his country romps. They made a brief stop at a place where everyone was drinking, everyone but him, but he didn’t care. Not this morning, not with so many people to sort out, some deliciously sweaty to add to his nosy pleasure.

“Time to head back now, Pocano. Don’t pull so hard!Ā  I’ll spill my coffee. There’s a good boy.” Gervase took a sip at every dog stop; liquids in, liquids out. The icing on Pocano’s morning cake was the garbage truck pulling out of the driveway- a veritable smorgasbord of scents – and he almost forgot the injunction not to strain on the leash, such was his gratification. As the truck waited to pull into traffic, Gervase waved to the driver. What wonderful work, Pocano felt, to travel with and guard such pungent treasures every day. He was sad to see the truck leave so unexplored. His walk was over. Gervase was emptying the pooper-scooper in the box where Bert usually did; dog doo seemed so tame to him this morning. They turned indoors.

Two little girls were sitting in the lobby. They came over to meet him as he sat, holding their hands flat against his nose in the approved manner. One, introduced as Pansy, smelled rather sweet; the other, Poppy, somewhat bitter.

“This must be Pocano.” the sweet one said to the bitter. “Come and meet him, Mrs. James.” The woman was dressed in the kind of clothes Gertie wore when she took a bag, went out in the evening, and came back damp. “Oh look, here’s Aunt Gina. Time to go. Bye Mrs. James. Bye Gervase. Bye Pocano. See you on Friday.” With a bustle of hugs and backpacks, the girls were out the door.

Gervase and Mrs. James stood speaking together while Pocano continued to politely sit. It sounded to him as though they would not be talking long. He was correct. Mrs. James walked away while Gervase, after searching for and hooking on a set of keys that rattled on his belt, guided Pocano over to the doors that would open, close, and return him to his solitary tower. At least his long nap today might be filled with lovely reminiscences and full bouquets of doggie dreams.

His anticipation was interrupted by a shriek. The elevator door opened but instead of going in, Gervase quickly leaned the scooper against the wall and with a hasty look at Pocano, pulled him along the hallway in the direction of that sound. Mrs. James was coming toward them and Pocano could see her trembling, smell her fear. Her words were barely breathed, inaudible, as wide-eyed she pointed towards the pool. Gervase kicked at a long snaky thing as they ran and together they all three pushed through the doorway.

The water smelled nasty, like going to the vet. The man in the water looked as though he’d had too much, was so full that he was partway down in it and couldn’t get back up. And the big talking box was talking too, well singing really, like Gertie did when she was happy. Gertie. He detected her lingering scent and tried to pull over to another door where it seemed to be even stronger but Gervase pulled his lead up short. So he obediently sat, sniffing some more while Mrs. James briefly left the room. There was Bert, and yes another man who’d visited the penthouse before; they were both afraid, too. Another overpowering scent that he remembered from the elevator, though this one was unafraid. He began sorting; there is flattery right here, and avarice over there, and deceit next to that, and a lot of contempt too.

A condo association that provides a waste deposit area along an outside wall, for the convenience of its residents' dog walkers.

A condo association that provides a waste deposit area along an outside wall, for the convenience of its resident dog walkers.

Gervase interrupted this inventory, helping Mrs. James back to the lobby and into a chair, handing the leash over to her.

“Can you hold him while I call the police? Pocano, you sit and stay.” Pocano rested his head in Mrs. James’ lap, just as he did when Gertie was upset. She absentmindedly stroked his head.

“They’re on their way. I’m going to take a quick look in the Men’s room.”

With a wail of sirens, cars screamed up to the entry and in an instant the lobby was filled with people dashing here and striding there, with tremendous noise and commotion. Pocano, blissful, pondered how so many delightfully interesting things could be happening to him in just one morning. He would sit and stay, not saying a word. A very good dog, observing yet unobserved, escaping the notice of anyone who might be thinking of taking him upstairs and away from all the action. It was all mounting excitement he recognized, taking on the sounds and thrill of a hunt. He was ready to join in, ready to work if they wanted him to, or better still, needed him.

Carrying a large bag, a woman soon swung past them, walking toward the room with the man in the water. Mrs. James was too miserable to notice. After awhile, passing them again, she stopped and spoke directly to Mrs. James. This woman reminded him of the two girls he had just met, a kind of a combination of them both.

“Excuse me, but are you Mrs. James?”

“Why yes, I am.”

“I’m Georgia Mendel.”

“Pleased to meet you I’m sure, although not in these terrible circumstances. I am so glad the girls had already left for school.”

“They speak so highly of you. I couldn’t go by without thanking you for taking such good care of them. By the way, I’m here as police photographer.”

“Oh yes. Of course.”

“I prefer not to come here but today I had no choice. As you know, I always ask my sister Gina to drive the girls back and forth, instead of me. If you ever want to talk, please do call.” Georgia handed over her business card. “Well, I have to get back to work.” Pocano, sensing vulnerability, again rested his comforting head on the lap where reluctant, salty tears had just begun to drop.