Levi Finch’s hair is the envy of every man who ever quivered in fear of male pattern baldness. It’s as thick as a seventeen year old’s and shiny as lake water. Levi is deep into the forest of his forties already; it’s possible he may even be reaching the dry fields of fifty, I can’t quite remember how much older he was (or is) than me. While the rest of Levi adheres to the textbook in terms of age appropriateness—he’s a little thick around the midsection and his skin has acquired that leathery texture—his hair continues to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
I watch Levi from the comfort of the middle of the audience. It’s fantastic to see one of my old friends, but of course I can’t charge up there and tell him so. There are three hundred of us standing around to hear what he has to say, and separating him from me are the bodies of at least thirty people. Plus, I’ve made use of the extensive inventory of costume wigs that we sell at Shazaam’s Parlor of Magic and Splendor. Mine is strawberry blond and curly, and I put a beret over it. Let’s just say I’m not very worried about being recognized.
I don’t know anything about training dogs, so I have prepared nothing for Griffin. I’ve been anxious about this, so it’s a pleasant surprise to me when Griffin hops out of the bag I’ve brought him in, negotiates the tree trunk legs of all those people in the audience, and leaps to the stage.
Levi is in mid-speech, and frankly, it was boring everyone until this moment. Clearly, he needs me as his speech writer. But when Griffin pops up, the place goes wild with delight. He immediately steals the show. He bounces around Levi, jumping so high that it would be almost inhumane for Levi not to reach out and pick him up and pet him, so Levi does.
One second Levi was talking about taxes, and the audience was yawning. The next instant, he’s holding an adorable little dog that’s a slightly larger, scruffier version of Toto. The audience erupts into spontaneous cheers and hoots and laughter: it’s as if Levi has been somehow chosen by this adorable, elf-like dog.
“Jesus H. Christ!” Levi’s astonishment is clear and genuine. “This is my dog.”
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.