Excerpt from Prism

by Patra Dounoukos Reiser

He looked at his black lab mix, Amadeus. A small walnut-sized lump appeared at the end of his jaw.

Jay chimed in: “What I wouldn’t give for a big turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. Oh yeah!”

Emmanuelle always smirked when she heard the word ‘trimmings.’ Years ago, when she was in what was then called high school, she had read a short story about a man from a small town who goes to New York. In a small diner somewhere, he had seen a sign offering a Thanksgiving dinner, “Turkey and all the tremens, $4,99!”  Tremens. Chuckle.

Which then made her think of the sign on Avenue du Parc, again a long time ago, offering a falafel sandwich and a dring, 6,99$ Snort.

Will responded: “Jay, it’s not the turkey you crave, it’s all the side dishes, like the gravy and mashed potatoes with butter and the cranberry sauce  --“

Jay’s mouth reacted instinctively to the words. He swallowed. “Shut up Will!” he was only semi-joking. “It may have been cool to be a vegetarian preacher back in the day, but no more, man. No more.” He spat. “Now you’re just torturing me.”

Natalia laughed weakly, hoping to defuse anything that may arise. People had short tempers these days. And it was close to supper time.

“Hey look!” Emmanuelle suddenly pointed. “A squirrel!” Sure enough, a pathetic gray blur desperately ran for the fence, out of harm’s way. Everyone all turned at the same time. “A squirrel!” “Wow!” “Been a while!”  “Awfully skinny.”

The dogs picked up the scent. All the animals, including the squirrel, thundered to the fence. They were all running yet still it appeared they were moving in slow motion. Almost as if no one’s heart were in it.

Robert avidly watched the chase. “I remember when Lucy and Ricki used to chase the trucks like that,” wistfully.

“Do they chase bikes?” asked Will.

“No. Sometimes horses though,” he shrugged, staring across the dimming open area. He sighed. “I used to love this park in the summer. Right about this time of night. It was so romantic … people eating their suppers under trees, the stars. With their wine. How lovely it all was.”

“At least we still have the stars,” muttered Natalia.

Will tried to change the subject. “I need to get out to Vancouver sooner rather than later.”

“Vancouver?” Robert’s head jerked around. “But I thought –“

“—No!” Will snapped. Then more calmly. “No. You’re thinking of Victoria. I don’t have friends there.”

“Everyone I knew from BC has already gone to Winnipeg,” Natalia piped in. Jay bummed one of Robert’s anorexic smokes. “Winnipeg?” Do you know the temperature there right now? Crazy.”

“You know who I haven’t seen for a long time?” Emmanuelle finally spoke again. “Darryl and his beagle … what was his name?”

“Skippy,” Robert whispered. “You mean Skippy. Yeah.” He turned and walked toward his dogs. They were fighting over something, like a piece of fabric or an old Frisbee.

Jay shuddered.

“What?” Bewildered, Emmanuelle looked around. “What happened to them?”

“Nothing,” Jay walked to join Robert. Emmanuelle looked at Natalia. “What the hell?”

She shrugged. “Pas de clue.”

Natalia looked up at the sky again, indigo rapidly spreading into an inkiness that was vaguely blinding. “Well, I best be getting home. I got a lot of shit to do before the lights go out. It’s already so dark.”