Marcello has the privilege of being privy to a conversation with Simone. This is, he thinks, his life at this stage. He and the usually taciturn Simone are making conversation. Yes. Perhaps not personal conversation, but when you've facilitated a person's drug habit, saved his life, and helped him rob a house, conversation becomes too personal anyway.
Simone hooks an arm around Marcello's neck, clumsy and strong. He leans in, and Marcello can smell aftershave.
"How come you take care of dogs? Ah? Selling coke not enough for you?" He asks conspiratorially, and it looks like, for a fleeting second, Simone's interested in Marcello's answer, but when Marcello begins to talk, he can tell Simone's mind has moved onto other things. Simone is busy getting the attention of a bartender whilst Marcello talks, at least to hear his own voice on the matter. They have to speak louder over the background sounds at the bar, although the place isn't as loud as the last club they got drunk in, Marcello thinks.
"I like dogs. All my life I've wanted this job." Marcello says earnestly. "And now I have it, I keep working at it, because it's stable. Dogs are my life." And cocaine dealing is not, he thinks seriously. He regrets his words the moment he says them, because they sound too cheesy and awkwardly put, but it doesn't matter anyway. Simone isn't listening, after all.
"I had a dog once as a kid." Marcello blinks, surprised at the offering up of information on Simone's part. He glances at the man, and Simone removes his arm from around Marcello's shoulders when the drink is placed at the bar, choosing to grab it in his hand.
Marcello wants to know more about the dog in question.
"My dad had to shoot it in the head cause it bit my cousin. Bit his hand nearly off." Simone finishes the story suddenly after he swallows his drink, as if hearing Marcello's piqued interest and choosing to squash it quickly. Marcello heart sinks. Like he was there when it happened. Glumness washes over him at this statement. He hears Simone laugh, like it's a fond memory, but it's a flat chuckle, un-recalling.
"What was it called?" Marcello inquires, and Simone looks at him as if he's sung a complicated rhyme and asked him to repeat it.
"Your dog, what was it called?" Marcello repeats. A little croaky and persistent, like a frog speaking up at a committee at the town hall.
"Benny." They lapse into silence. Simone's knee bounces underneath the bar, and Marcello wonders if all this talk is purely because Simone is flying high. Marcello thinks of commenting at what a good name Benny is for a dog, but then he decides not to, because to bring up the dog again would be to revive the tragic circumstances of Benny's death and Simone's presumed indifference to it. He looks away.
"What type of dog would you have, now?" Marcello ventures.
"I don't know." Simone shrugs. "Probably one that doesn't bark too much. Like that fucking chihuahua at that place." Marcello stiffens at the memory of the chihuahua. He hoped it was alright. Poor thing had all but followed him out the door.
Simone watches Marcello out of the corner of his eyes, and picks up on something.
"What? What?" He prompts Marcello, watching him go still in his periphery, tensing up like a rabbit that sensed danger from afar, the shadow of a birds wing in the sky.
"The chihuahua... The one your friend put on ice." Marcello doesn't know why he's even talking about this, why he's even letting himself, it will go nowhere, the train of conversation he's on, but he cannot hope to derail it either, he's too drunk to. "I went into the apartment, after you had left," He looks to his captivated audience, Simone, who is now looking at him incredulously, suddenly still, too, in his seat. His bouncing tracksuited leg slows to a few twitches.
"And thawed the dog out." Marcello says finally, meeting Simone's gaze.
Simone practically hollers. That's got his attention, blinking at Marcello and looking at him with a kind of squint, as if he's misheard.
"She was fine, just cold. Alive."
Simone takes some time to let this information soak in, knowing Marcello is serious, that he isn't just joking, and it's so absurd, and so characteristically like the little man, and- he laughs. Over-bowled, surprised. He'd always known Marcello was a funny guy, but this, this was too much.
Marcello, cheered by Simone's laughter, laughs along too, and although it's an uneasy laugh, its a weight is cleared off his chest. The unfortunate plight of Benny is forgotten.
"What can I say?" Marcello says with renewed confidence, "I felt sorry! The owners would've had to come home, see their place robbed, open the freezer and find their chihuahua a lump of ice!" Marcello cries, and he is still half serious about it, setting Simone off again. "I love animals. Bleeding heart Marcello, they call me." He says, and he knows he has taken center stage, said something interesting enough to entertain Simone. He feels oddly proud.
"Jesus Christ Marcello."
Life is good.