Lasko stood in the dark hallway after Tom had disappeared into his room. The cab’s meter was still running downstairs, ticking away at Lasko’s funds. But now it was time to stand in the dark.

Lasko had learned that sometimes standing in the dark was necessary. His face could do what it wanted. There was a light sneaking in from one of the 4 tiny bedrooms, impurifying the black. Lasko wished the black was solid, because then it settled like fog until he was lost in it.

It was Delilah’s fault he felt like this. He had been hooking up with that bitch for a couple months. She was very pretty, prettier than almost any girl he had ever hooked up with. She had assured him that they weren’t exclusive, so Lasko couldn’t understand why she got so pissed when he fucked her friend Gabrielle.

He didn’t know how Delilah found out about this, but she had confronted him about it at Snug’s Pub a couple hours ago. He had been drunk at that point, working his way up to wasted, the point where something clicked in his head and everything smoothed out and he was able to throw himself around without caring.

“Did you fuck Gabby?” Delilah was direct like that.

“Yeah. Is there a problem?”

“HOW can you even ask me that?”

“I don’t see what the fuckin problem is. You said yourself we weren’t exclusive.”

Delilah leaned back with an angry look that was also pitying. He hated when chicks gave him that look.

“Lasko, you’re 40. If I don’t have to tell you what’s wrong with that, then I don’t have anything else to say to you.”

Easy enough for Delilah to say; she was only 27. You were supposed to be very future-oriented at 40. It’s not that Lasko didn’t think of the future…he thought about it all the time, really. It’s just that nothing ever worked out the way he wanted. Delilah certainly didn’t.

Lasko was aware that he wasn’t really relationship material. He was past the point where it was acceptable to be poor—now he was just lower-class. He worked almost-full-time at a restaurant where most of the other servers were college students. He also drank a lot, but fuck that. It’s not like he had kids to take care of.

The brumous dark settled further and Lasko forgot to keep his balance. He kind of slouch-fell into one of the hallway’s walls. The noise vibrated through the dark and he heard a scuttle from the distance.

A dog emerged from the kitchen, its stubby tail wagging furiously. It was a cute dog: wheat-colored, medium sized, with a puppy’s large paws. It approached Lasko and started sniffing as his feet. Finding Lasko to be non-threatening, it nosed at his hand, wanting to be pet.

Lasko loved dogs. He took a knee and started to scratch behind the dog’s ears. Lasko used to have a dog, a German Shepard mix, but it had been run over by a car about a year ago. He had seen it happen, and had chased the guy who’d done it back into his car with a rake. He smashed the prick’s back windshield, even as the guy tried to apologize. Lasko had been an exceptional dog-owner, not like whoever owned this little guy. Making him sleep in the hallway. The owner probably didn’t even love him.

“Whose dog are you?” Lasko scratched with one hand and pet with the other. He remembered that the cab was still idling downstairs.

“C’mon little man, I’ll bring you to a cool house.” He opened the door to the staircase and tried to usher the dog out. The dog peered down the staircase, and turned its head back to Lasko with an unsure look on his face. Lasko took the dog by the collar and tried to pull it to the top of the stairs. The dog looked back to a door in the hallway and whined softly. Lasko tried to pick him up, but he whined again and struggled away.

The door that the dog had glanced towards creaked open. An angry and sleep-lined kid emerged and gave Lasko a long, hard stare as the dog ran over to him.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Lasko vaguely recognized the kid.

“Oh…Roger…we ALLLLL know you’re an asshole…is that your dog?”

“Certainly not yours.”

“Well then…take better fuckin care of it.”

…and Lasko stumbled down the staircase to the waiting cab.

“Fuckin Loser,” uttered Roger, slamming the door.

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