70 • Where Have You Been?
Joe went through the rest of the evening’s meal with no further lapses in his grasp of details, no more tall tales or turning himself into a story’s protagonist that he hadn’t actually lived. Will wondered if it was still related to his medications and thought about calling Joe’s doctor. Odds were good he’d be willing to talk to him, being Joe’s son and all.
He decided to wait. Pearl was already keeping an eye on Joe and would surely let Will know if something needed attention. And besides. Who was Will to be pointing fingers, seeing as he was just now standing in the middle of the street between Pearl’s house and Cameron’s, Finn’s leash in his hand, and having no earthly idea of how he got there, or why.
Aliens were always an option, of course, and probably at least as plausible as any other explanation at this point. He would like to go home and go to bed, maybe wake up to realize he had not been standing bewildered in the middle of the street after all. But he had Finn with him, and taking the dog up to his room was impractical. He’d have to explain to Cameron why he’d absconded with her dog (when he didn’t have an answer to that yet). And bringing a dog into territory now, covertly, claimed by Emily could prove disastrous.
He had only one real option: Take Finn home and maybe, in the process, Cameron would fill in enough gaps in his synapses that he’d remember what happened.
Finn had waited patiently for Will to finish his protracted mental processing and start walking again. The black Chevy pickup that had just turned off the highway onto their street, not so much.
Will jumped at the sound of the horn and screeching brakes, snatched Finn up from the ground and half trotted across the pavement to the curb. He scratched Finn behind the ears. “That was a close one, eh?” He looked the dog in the eyes. “How did we get here, little guy? Did I take you out for a walk, or was it the other way around?”
The dog stared back at Will, blinking slowly. He curled his tongue around and licked Will’s hand.
“Okay then. We’re done here.” Will put Finn on the ground and stepped back, shaking his hand in the air like it had just touched a hot stove. He held it away from his body. “Pretty sure it must have been the other way around. I never volunteer for licking.”
As they walked up the step’s to Cameron’s front door, Will looked down at Finn. Finn didn’t look back up. “Not personal, you know. Licking is licking.”
Finn let out a series of short barks as Will rapped on the screen door. “You’re standing right here with me, Mutt. The whole bark like you’re standing on the back of the couch looking out the window thing is a little off.”
Cameron opened the door, grinning. “There you two boys are!” She took the leash from Will’s hand and reached down to rub Finn’s head as he ran into the house. “You must have found all sorts of fun. You’ve been gone for ages.”
“Ages?” Will raised his eyebrows.
“Well, in dog walking time, sure. Finn’s little legs really only go so far, so fast you know.”
“Oh, right. He’s actually a little bit hard to keep up with.”
“Well, no. He had us cruising around so fast I don’t even know where all we went.”
Cameron narrowed her eyes. “That might be more you than Finn.”
“Possibly true.” Will noticed his hand was still sticking out awkwardly from his side and held it up. “Hey, listen, can I borrow a little soapy water? Dog walking hazard.”
Cameron snickered and opened the door wider. “Of course. It’s the least I can do.” She motioned down the hall and Will slipped into the bathroom and turned on the light with his elbow.
“Hey, do you want a beer or something?” Cameron called, when he had turned the water off.
“Do you have one?”
“Well, not exactly. You know me, just wine. But we could go to your place and get one.”
Will looked at himself in the mirror, wondering if the dark circles under his eyes were always there or if it was the lighting in Cameron’s bathroom. “Um, taking you up to my place right now, with Joe next door, is probably not the best plan. I’d really be good with a cold glass of water.” For all he knew, he’d already had a few drinks.
He dried his hands and walked out to Cameron’s living room. The walls were covered in dark oak paneling and the room was sparse, but tastefully furnished. There was a single painting on the wall, an abstract in deep reds and yellows and this surprised him. Cameron seemed too practical, too ordered, to appreciate the mystery of an abstract piece of art.
“Who’s the artist?” Will asked, stepping opposite the leather sofa to take it in.
“An old college friend.” Cameron handed him a glass. “No one you would know.” She looked away. “No one anyone would know.”
“I see.” Will took her evasion as a cue not to ask another question about the painting or the artist. “So,” he said, clearing his throat and settling in at the end of the sofa. “Pretty good story how Finn got me to take him out for a walk, yeah?” He smiled, looking a little bit goofy, hoping Cameron would pick up where he left off. “Bet you never saw that coming.”
Cameron sat down at the other end of the sofa and pulled a leg up under her seat. “No, I can’t say I was expecting you to take Finn out. But after that dinner it was pretty much anybody’s guess what might happen next.”
Will looked around the room. “Whoo, boy. Yeah. Quite the mealtime. Pearl’s going to stop inviting us all over, one of these days.”
“She seemed happy enough.”
“You don’t see it? It’s all over her. Her face, her hands, her step. I think it’s Joe.”
Will looked at Cameron, then let his eyes fall to the floor.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It’s just —” Will held up his hands and pulled one up to rub his neck. “I have to be honest with you. I don’t really remember much about dinner.”
(to be continued)