I appreciated Jimmy's sense of humor a lot and then one day Jimmy did something which made me appreciate him even more. He brought in a small orange tent and set it up right inside the apartment. He put his blankets and pillow in there and said, "See, this way I have my own room."
Jimmy and his tent had been in the apartment for nearly two months when we heard a loud knock on the door.
"It's me, Thurber," said the voice behind the door. It was high-pitched, whining even.
"Come on in, Thurber," I said, but I did not get up to open the door for him.
Thurber rattled the handle a little bit and then whacked the door with his hand. It was locked. I still didn't get up and so after a while he went away.
Jimmy said, "I know some friends who could kick that guy's ass."
"That would be nice," I said.
A few days later Thurber came into our apartment. He let himself in with a set of keys he had kept from before. His lip was fat and purple and both his eyes were black.
"I need to wash up," he said.
Thurber limped over to the sink and splashed water all over the place. "A group of men kicked my ass for no reason," he said.
"If you had keys," I said, "why didn't you let yourself in earlier?"
"I never even met those fuckers before in my life." Thurber was covered in water, pink from his own blood. He looked terrible. His hair was greasy and his clothing was matted with dirt.
"You look terrible," I said.
Thurber spied a group of potted plants by the window and lunged at them. His skinny arm knocked them over and the dirt spilled onto the carpet.
"Why is there a tent in here?" he asked me.
Jimmy answered him from inside. "It's my tent, asshole," he said.
Thurber looked down at the tent which had just spoken to him.
"You're kidding me," he said.
"No, I'm not," said Jimmy's voice. "And those were my friends who kicked your ass. I asked them to do it."
Thurber was amazed. He stumbled around and stuttered a bit and then walked out the door. He left drops of water all over the place and a putrid smell which lingered in the air for a while. The plants lay overturned on the carpet.
"Keep me posted on any developments with this Thurber fruitcake," said Jimmy one day as he packed his bag.
"I'm going away for a while so I won't be around," he said.
"Okay, fine," I said, and then that day I found myself a pet dog. I didn't know how long Jimmy would be away and so I wanted some company. I have always wanted a dog.
The dog I found had only three legs. He was missing a front one so he hopped forward on one paw. Like most three-legged dogs this dog managed quite well for himself and I didn't feel sorry for him at all. While Jimmy was gone the dog and I went out for frequent walks and once I got a citation for not having a leash on my pet.
"I'm really sorry about this officer," I said. "It will never happen again." And I meant that. I want no trouble with the law. I used a piece of rope instead of a leash though...
Excerpted from Dogwalker by Arthur Bradford Copyright 2001 by Arthur Bradford. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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