52. By the short hairs

He’d had a nice break on the Seabus, after playing ambulance, and felt all of his good humour and good sense marshalled around him. He’d arrive a little late, but that would be fine; George would find calmly sociable and useful things to say, maybe explain that he, Michel was his chief sexual rival, except that since he’d come to town, the two of them had been going at Kima like ants on fallen fruit with no sign of babies.

Michel couldn’t transfer a sperm packet big enough to start a pregnancy, and George couldn’t transfer one at all, and got madder than hell if you even mentioned it. Michel hoped that while coaching his lawyer friend on Michel’s many interesting qualities George would have to say something about his reproductive bobbles, because if he really was close to this human, as close as he claimed, he’d have to say something. It would be embarrassing to George, and that made any mockery of his own troubles worthwhile.

It amused Michel and he and George were on opposite ends of an emotional and physical spectrum, but comfortably friends. It hadn’t always been so, but George was nothing if not pragmatic, and had forgiven Michel for taking bad advice and trying to kill him back in the day.

If he was George, he’d have been preparing for the meeting since daybreak, rehearsing and trying various things in his mind.  There would be agendas, occluded and competing and colliding and colluding, and Michel thought it would all be horseshit.  There were two things in his life right now, and everything else was a sunny expanse of boredom and pointlessness.

There was sneaking around the city at night moving furniture, which he never in a dozen lifetimes would have guessed provided the right amount of work-related mayhem and routine for his sadly deranged personality, and banging Kima, or trying to. Even making a commitment to not making a commitment was too much for him; he was content to fall into the work while making the occasional half-hearted effort to understand what George was doing, and the crazy places that Kima’s brain was taking her while supporting George’s work.

According to George, the lawyer (who was ‘one of the finest Canadian jurists of all time’ according to Maclean’s, which to Michel was like saying he was something excellent and yet rationally undesirable) was sick and maybe dying, and his wife was definitely dying, and that irritated Michel.

Most Sixers had a distaste for humanity’s folkways of death that was blatant, bigoted, unrepentant and immune to even gentle admonishment. If you’re going to die, get it over with! — only a fool lingers once the pin has been pulled. Sixers died abruptly and completely, although you usually got a little notice so you could say goodbye, if you cared to. That was a natural death.  An unnatural death sent you away quicker than a lightning strike.

After a fine run, which included slapping a bear on the ass (it treed itself with a confused bellow, circled the top of the snag and mimicked a KFC bucket), Michel reached his destination. He was about to knock on the door when George who must have been taking invisibility lessons from Kima, forestalled him. The pain was stark.

“Ow ow ow shit fuck,” Michel said in English, but quietly. George’s hair had formed a clamp and pinched his three hairs. Michel mastered the urge to bob like a panicky spider on a thread and stayed still and quiet.

George’s voice, calm in Greek: “Cy is key to my plans, dead or alive, but if you scare him or do anything to hurt him or anyone in this household, or if you do anything puckish and droll and ignorant, I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”

“You’re the boss,” Michel said, and tried to force a link. George, annoyed, slapped him off, and reefed just a bit on the three hairs. 

“Eee,” Michel squeaked.

“I’m not your boss, and I never will be,” George said.

“You have literally got me by the short hairs.  I don’t know how much more of a tyrant you could be,” Michel said. He kept his tone humble. “Then there’s my paycheque.”

“Thank Cy,” George said, releasing Michel. “He’s the one making it all possible. I mean it.  No funny business.”

“Sheesh, what a grouch,” Michel said. His hairs were screeching at him, and he tried to think calm thoughts back to them. They entered the house, George determined, Michel, his jolly mood destroyed, with foreboding.