I am walking up the narrow tan staircase to my apartment. If I had tied my shoe, I wouldn’t have tripped on the last step. It reminded me of what happened yesterday.

            It was my twenty seventh birthday. I woke up that morning to a mildly strong breeze from my window. I threw on my moccasins, and headed over to shut it closed. In the process I tripped over one of the leather laces. I tried to gather myself but the same untied foot jammed into one of the legs on my bed and I collapse to the ground. This dangling leather strand was the reason for it, I tried not to cry. I lay there a little while to let the pain subside. Just as I was about to get up, Rio comes steaming into my room with reckless abandon and knocks me back onto the ground. He’s growling at me as if I’m a house intruder. I’m confused. He stares me down, his teeth look sharper and longer than usual, and I began to wonder why I adopted a ferocious beast. I try to reason with him, “Rio, its me, I’m a friend, its …..” Before I can utter my name, his jaw is locked around my foot. I scream. I reach behind me to my desk and grab my Yankees Collectors addition bat and whip it right at Rios head. He’s knocked unconscious; I’ve had to do this in the past.

            I rush myself to the bathroom, limping, and throw my foot into the bathtub, turning on the cold water.  Within minutes my bath has morphed into a rectangle of bright red. The burn of the water is worse then the stubbed toe and Rio’s bite combined, I weep. I wept not because of my severed foot, not because I’d have to scrub out the stains in the bathroom, but because my own friend had turned on me on my birthday. I thought he’d be there for me when I needed him most, to comfort me, to be a helping hand…. Not to attack me. “You should be ashamed of yourself Buddy!” I yell back into the hallway, hoping my unconscious dog will hear me. At this point I look back down at the bathtub.

            It reminds me of the Chinese flag, which reminds me of my first trip to China with My Lady. We decided upon where to go by spinning a globe, blindfolded, marking the spot with our finger. Our first go at it we landed on Korea, so we tried again. Antarctica, Utah, Boston, Saudi Arabia, until we just decided we’d go to China. We set our sights high. We visited the Great Wall. It was windy… indescribably windy, and we had on our yellow ponchos. We ended up being the only ones there, not so Great after all, we thought to ourselves. Our goal was to walk the whole wall to and fro. What was supposed to be a vacation turned into more of a survival Discovery Channel Special. We had to walk backwards so that we wouldn’t suffocate ourselves. To our fortune, about a fourth down the path the wind began to blow the direction we were hiking. I found it difficult to stay on my feet anymore, my poncho became a sail, so I started taking long jumps forward. Each jump I was lifted almost fifteen feet, soring forward for almost a quarter of a football field. My Lady began to do the same, it was good fun. We were making major gain; we were unstoppable, invincible to the wall and to progress. It wasn’t too long before I got a bit carried away. I winded up and took off running. Then I launched off on one leg. I shot up into the sky like a jet. I was scarred for my life, and it was no longer fun. ‘So you can see the Great Wall from space’ was my last thought…. Black Out.

               I woke up at the bottom of a hill.  I looked to my right, hills, to my left, more hills, and then in back of me I could see a strand of distant bricks which seemed to be the Great Wall. I held back my tears, and began my hike back up the hills to the wall. I was without food, and was cold. I tried to use my poncho as a parachute again but the wind would drag me back down the opposite sides of the hill. It all made no sense; we were doing so great, what happened? Where’s My Lady? Is she thinking about me? Or has she moved on and found another soul mate? Am I in the future? If so, maybe I can find a teleportation porter pouty somewhere and use it to get back to where I was.

            I looked out into the distance; the hills reminded me of when I used to ride Camels at the City Zoo. I was barely eighteen years old when my Dad would take me to the Zoo to feed the alligators. We fed them moms left overs, and brought Burgers on the way back. The Alligators would wobble their way to the edge of the cage and when we’d throw in the food. They were most fond of mom’s meatloaf, so we’d ask mom to make extra meatloaf on meatloaf nights to prolong our Zoo visits. After we fed the alligators, we’d ride the Camels.

             “What good would Camels be if there were no humans to ride them?” A question I had been pondering for quite some time, and decided to run it past my Dad. He looks at me in disgust and says, “What good would you be for if there were no Alligators to feed?” anger burned up inside of me as the wind started to pick up and the congested clouds blocked out the sun’s shine. I ran off, my Dad just watched me as if I was just another creature in the Zoo. I rode more Camels. I broke through the restricted areas and rode elephants, tigers, ostriches, snakes…. I even rode a horse. The horse took me out of the Zoo into town. I streaked down the bike lanes of the busy streets yelling, “The Storm is coming! The Storm is coming!” people looked at me like I was crazy. The wind picked up as I ran a red light down 27th street. In the corner of my eye I see a moving cab, then…. Black out.

               I wake up, on the ground, only to find a sideways city. The tall skyscrapers are jacked teeth, protruding out of my side and down my legs to my feet. I turn around to find that the sun has come back up, and I turn around again and see the Tan horse trotting away down the road. I lay there and cry. I notice that the city is empty, no cars, no people, no Dad. I must find my own way now, I thought to myself.

              While recalling the tan horse I am brought back to the present. The same shade of tan covers the stair to my apartment. I moved into the city because my promotion required me to be more in touch with the Senior Director and CEO of my company, who are also in the city. Ever since I lost my lady, or rather, ever since she lost me, I’ve allocated myself in high buildings on the top floors so that I can look down to the streets with my binoculars in search of her. I am walking up the narrow tan staircase to my apartment. If I had tied my shoe, I wouldn’t have tripped on the last step. I manage to catch my fall, and am relieved by it. When I open the door to my apartment, it slams back in my face. I don’t remember leaving the windows open. I barge into the door and hit the ground like a special operations soldier, army crawling through the kitchen and to the living room where the windows are. The wind is tearing through my apartment, destroying my kitchen appliances and my furniture. Rio is lifted off the ground and blown straight over my head. The wind carries him full speed in to a wall and he is knocked unconscious. I then jump up, reaching for the window and yank it all the way down. I do the same for the other, gripping on to the curtain to keep balance. My body is unharmed.

   I am exhausted, and flop onto the couch breathing heavily.

   “Is this what you wanted?” I look over to see that Rio has woken up from his collision.

   “You can talk?” The last two days with Rio have been most interesting.

   He continues, “You go through life searching for answers, reaching for the sky, going with the wind, expecting great things…”

   “Wait why are you talking?” I persist.

   “You think you’re untouchable. You think the world is yours and it’s going to wait till you’re finished with your dinner to have desert.”

   “In all seriousness, Rio, are you an alien?” I ask him.

   “You think you can paddle your sorry little boat to Treasure Island, and when it gets strenuous, you think the current is just going to wisp you there. Well I got news for you, Buddy”

   “Hey I should be calling you that!” I laugh. He starts growling.

   “I’ve been trying to end you for so long now. I’ve tried it all. You think the window just happened to fling open on the day of the Hurricane Watch? Well I’m finished with the sly tactics. We’re doing this old fashion, the better man wins”

   “But you’re not a man, you’re a….” Before I can say, ‘jerk’, the door swings open, and whacks Rio so fiercely that he is hurled straight for the living room window. I turn away from the shattering glass and loose fur. My Lady stands in the doorway, “What does this remind you of?” She says.

   “Life” I respond.
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