Someone will have to testify, the man says to me, in front of other people, people I don’t know. I don’t know why he is talking to me and I don’t know who has to testify about what. The man has with him two dogs. The dogs look like cousins once removed. The man looks like he shouldn’t have any dogs with him, let alone two that look like this. I tell him to be reasonable. I tell him that I have my own problems. I tell him he should be ashamed of himself. He says, someone will have to leave an historical record to be found in a cave somewhere underneath rubble and sediment.
I don’t know this man. I don’t know what he does, where he comes from. He is across from me on the front porch of someone’s house. I don’t think the house is his. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to have dogs on the front porch of someone else’s house, unless maybe they are in service to someone or something or if you know the homeowner personally. I can’t tell if this man is in need of service. From what I can see he is in need of a new wardrobe, something suitable for civilized people.
I’m not sure whose house it is.
I’m not sure who the other people are, either. Some of them are men, others women. They all look like people you can find anywhere, doing anything. I decide they are none of my business.
Perhaps he knows me, however, this man with the two dogs. Perhaps he thinks I am his brother or a co-worker.
Let those who find it point fingers and mock, he says, like they can do better.
I am on my way home but I stopped here when someone called me by name and offered me a drink. I think the person who did this is a friend of mine, as I seem to recognize him, though I don’t recognize the house. I’m assuming the man with the dogs is a friend of a friend, one I’ve never met before, but perhaps not.
I decide I don’t care about any of this or how anyone might know everyone else because I’m about to be evicted. They’ve been hanging notices on my door for months now.
I stopped paying rent last year. I could explain why, but what good would that do.
I almost tell this to the man across from me, but I decide against it.
He says, then the trees with their leaves on inside out, people streaming inland, moving in herds.
I’m not sure where it is I’ll go if they finally do throw me out. So far all they’ve done is hang notices on my door. If they break in and move all of my stuff outside then I will have to make a decision. It’s quite possible I might do something that’ll land me on the evening news. It’s possible I might decide to kill this man and take his dogs and go wandering.
This time tomorrow I might be huddled under an overpass, these two dogs my only reasons for living. A man could do worse, but not by much.
Someone else tries to talk to me, one of the other people, a woman. I tell her to leave me alone and she does. Then I watch her walk across the porch to bother someone else.
If this man thinks he knows me I decide this is fine. Maybe we are indeed co-workers or brothers. I think I remember having a brother once but I lost track of him years ago when I moved here and he stayed behind, back home, wherever that was. I think I remember him liking dogs, even keeping one or two of them as pets.
The man says, a soft rain makes music when it bathes the earth.
I tell him I know. I tell him I like to hear it when I sleep.
Robert Lopez is the author of five books, of which the most recent are Good People and All Back Full.