Writers-in-Residence Excerpts of Work

Gerry Galvin - Novelist, Essayist, Poet

Fabio & Friends

 

Fabio loves Fifi. Fifi is a snowy poodle, three years old, precocious
and sure of her centrality in Fabio’s affections. They promenade
together six days a week, weather permitting. Fifi shrinks from rain and
Fabio is sensitive to this. Intemperate weather, though inhibiting, does
not preclude joint activity. They play catch and run with the French
doors open between kitchen and lounge. On these days lunch is taken
indoors: pate, cheese and pickles for him, chicken poached in milk, cut
into manageable chunks for her. They share a bottle of still water,
Evian, by choice.

Once weekly on Wednesdays Maria comes to clean the apartment and attend
to Fifi’s toilet. The problem here is the mutual dislike that threatens
the relationship between dog and minder, which surfaces in snaps and
slaps that have occasionally degenerated into nastiness. Maria’s tactic
of withholding food long past the regular hour has ameliorated the
situation to a state of tense stand-off. “Some day I’ll drown the little
bitch”, Maria promises herself. For the present she remains trapped by
obligation and need.

Fabio’s Wednesday at the club consists of morning coffee and croissants,
pre-lunch bowling for an hour, small bets on the side. Paul, Jerry and
Stefan are superannuated lawyers like himself. They have that in common
with their distaste for blood-sucking ex-wives and the judicial system
that formerly served them well. Lunch is a healthy buffet: salads,
yoghurts, smoked fish and fruit purees. They drink too much but that is
a small price to pay for the emancipation of tongues. The harmony of
their views surprises them all. Jerry nods off after the first cognac;
happy for him he does not have to endure the calumnies of the others.
Paul has a son in a corporation, computers or finance, in Brussels, last
time he heard. Stefan and Fabio feel the closeness of superiority over
the other two – Jerry’s a lightweight, can’t hold his liquor and Paul,
poor Paul, forever cloaking his son’s abandonment with bluster about the
lad’s genius. They don’t have to put words to their self-assurance in
order to feel uplifted by it.

Paul and Jerry leave together to catch the bus before traffic builds up.
Stefan and Fabio share a cab. Their apartment buildings adjoin in a
secure park complex by the river. When Fabio alights, Stefan instructs
the driver to head back towards the poorer part of town, near the
harbour. A woman, who lives there, expects him on Wednesday afternoons.
Fabio has never given any indication that he is aware of his friend’s
trysts.

He’s hardly in the door when Fifi leaps into his arms, while a
disgruntled Maria stands aside, awaiting payment. “Fifi, dear, dear
doggy, how can I ever leave you?” Every Wednesday the same gooey
sentiments. This time he feels he means it. He is so overcome with the
beauty of the poodle that he has difficulty suppressing tearful
emotions. The proximity of tears rouses Maria to expression of her own,
a mini-niagara that is beyond her capacity to bear. She sinks to the
floor like a wet sack. Fifi sees her opportunity, pounces on the
defenceless woman, nipping her extremities with sharp teeth. Maria, by
nature and circumstance, a fighter, recovers from initial shock and with
a feral howl hurls herself at the animal. All her accumulated rage
empowers her. By the time Fabio succeeds in pulling her off, Fifi is in
a state of nervous collapse from which she or her master will never
recover.

Gerry Galvin
Moycullen, Co. Galway, Ireland

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