“I remember your name from back there,” Hugo said, rather out of the blue, to Zippy on one of their walks.
“I’d hope so!” exclaimed Zippy with pride, only half-joking. “I expect Kevin talked about me a lot.”
“Not a lot exactly. He compared me to you. ‘Oh, Zippy used to do that too.’ ‘Zippy never did that.’ That kind of thing. It used to annoy me, before I knew you. I had no idea who this Zippy was. I knew he was a dog of course. I just didn’t get why he talked about him so much. It was before I understood how all this multiple-dogs-belonging-to-a-single-human over-one-lifetime thing worked. Now I get it. You were kind of a point of reference. I guess to some degree he expected me to act like you.”
“Did you?” Zippy was curious.
“I liked to be chased, but not as much as you. I loved jumping in our pool, which you didn’t get a chance to do. I loved chasing big sticks – as you know – and I guess you didn’t get a chance to do that either. You loved chasing waves at the beach. I didn’t get there very much to know what that was like. We both were at our best when we were giving lots of kisses and hanging out in the same room with our people. And we both snored!” Hugo laughed, never remembering the actual snore but recalling how frequently Kevin woke him up from snoring, muttering something about Zippy doing the same thing.
“I wonder why he did that,” mused Zippy, even though he liked it a little. “Kevin was always so focused on me when he was around. He never thought about anything else. We played, I slept with him, he was excited to see me every day when he came home from school. It’s hard to picture him thinking of other things when he was with you.”
“When I knew him, Kevin didn’t come home from school. He came home from work. Sometimes late. And he got up early. We had fun but other things were usually on his mind. He was easily distracted. And sometimes he was short tempered. Things bothered him more easily than I think when you knew him. Then he started working more at the house, which I loved but it was different. He was there with me and Kaydon physically, but not with us in any other way. He talked on the phone a lot for work or worked on his laptop. Kaydon or I would try to get his attention. Sometimes he would shoo us away. Sometimes he would play. We just never knew.”
Zippy had no idea what a laptop was. It sounded like where he used to sit on Kevin. In any event, this Kevin didn’t sound familiar. His Kevin always had time to play with him, always wanted to, even when he got older and came home from school later. Whenever he was home, he was ready for a good chase.
“Guess we’d better start making a list of questions for him when we see him again,” offered up Zippy. “It does seem strange though, doesn’t it? We’re waiting for the same person. I get that he got older but this sounds like something different, something… more.”
“We always knew he loved us,” Hugo added belatedly. “But this is confusing. I don’t even care that much. I just want to see him again. However, once he’s here, if the topic should come up…” he chuckled.
“I wonder if others will arrive before Kevin does,” Zippy thought out loud.
Hugo had wondered about that too. If he could arrive after Zippy, then others could just as easily arrive after him. If they did, he wondered if they would be waiting for Kevin or Simon.
“Donnie’s got a big pack waiting for him, and so does Karen,” Zippy said. “So why not us too?”
Neither of them – deep down – cared if any more dogs arrived to wait with them, though they were both thinking the same thing: what would Kevin be like in the eyes of that dog, or the next one, or the next, if there were more?
“Good point. We’ll feel it if or when the time comes.” And that raised another question that Hugo had been thinking about lately. “We’ve seen people arrive here and greet their dogs, then they walk off together up the path. I assume they look like they did when they died but if that’s the case, how will you know it’s him? Or how will I, if we’re here a while?”
“I don’t know, Hugo. I do know that every person who arrives is recognized by their pets as soon as they see them. With each reunion I am lucky enough to see, my faith grows stronger that we’ll know him, somehow.”
It was puzzling indeed. These humans change a lot over their lives it seemed. How was Kevin going to look when he got here? How would Simon look to Driver? How would they act towards them? He couldn’t picture the Kevin who Zippy knew, and he was sure Zippy had a hard time imagining a middle-aged Kevin. The longer he was here, the more questions he had.
Sensing this, Zippy said “I have faith that all our questions will be answered when Kevin arrives and we walk up the path together. I know you haven’t been here as long, and you’ll figure out your own way to deal with these uncertainties. I do know that patience and faith that it’ll all work out are things I couldn’t do without.”
Hugo didn’t have a lot of either and wasn’t exactly clear on this notion of faith but as Zippy pointed out, he was a relative newcomer. He made a note to himself to reflect on patience – something he NEVER had back there – and faith, something he never needed. At least he was pretty sure he didn’t.
Both were things that would come in handy because it was going to be a while before they saw Kevin again.