Dedicated to Paul Auster
“You’ve enhanced my life,” Marcello whispers to Beulah as he walks her at Piedmont Park. “It’s not only about the exercise I am getting from walking you. It’s also about the new women I am meeting at the park. These women, Beulah, walk both their loneliness and their dogs on a leash.”
Beulah is amazed. She has come to believe that she and Marcello share the same instinct. Each time Beulah gets sight of a squirrel she chases it as if it is the first time she’s ever seen a squirrel. Marcello does the same with women.
Marcello, however, takes on a different approach when chasing a woman. He goes on a slow-paced pursuit, pretending he’s not interested in the prey, sparing her from the onslaught. This kind of chase is something that Beulah just can’t figure out. Sometimes the chase is successful, other times it isn’t. Beulah enjoys the moment Marcello approaches a woman because she gets to play with the fellow dog that the woman is walking.
Beulah has found that when she’s growled at by a dog that ultimately rejects her, the woman wouldn’t talk to Marcello for long before rejecting him as well. Beulah doesn’t know why this happens. Neither does Marcello. A mystery unsolved.
Once she catches a squirrel Beulah plays with her half-dead body until she grows tired and leaves it behind, all in one act. Marcello’s hunting takes more than one act.
The first act comes to an end right after the woman has given Marcello her “number.” Then comes act two –when Marcello calls the woman a few days after their first contact at the park. Act three takes place when that woman enters Marcello’s residence and retire with him to his bedroom. Sometimes the woman would bring her pet, which Beulah likes because it gives her the chance to play again with the dog that she first met at the park. Still, there are other times when act three won’t occur for reasons Beulah can’t grasp.
This afternoon Marcello is not being lucky. Each of the three women he went after was just unresponsive.
“I think I still am pissed,” he tells her, and mumbles other words in Italian, a language Beulah can’t understand yet. “Being pissed means that whatever I set myself out to do will go wrong, because I am kind of sabotaging myself, Beulah.”
Beulah knows why Marcello is upset. He was unfairly attacked and hurt during a verbal fight last weekend. Beulah was lying on the kitchen floor when, all of a sudden, this woman, Jenny, emerged from Marcello’s bedroom.
“You confuse me,” Jenny said.
“I confuse you? How?” Marcello said.
“You call me amore, which in Italian means love. But, do you mean it? Am I your love?
“I have affection for you. I am fond of you. These are feelings usually associated with love, right?”
“We’ve been seeing each other for a month now. Do you love me?”
Beulah sensed that a situation was building up. She opened her eyes and looked at Marcello.
“I care about you, I like being around you, I want you, too,” Marcello declared. “As far as I am concerned, this is love.”
“But you are not in love with me,” Jenny said.
“Being in love, as in wanting to marry and live with you?”
Beulah got up and walked up to Marcello. She wanted to make sure that if something bad was going to happen she’d be standing by him.
“It takes a long time to get there, amore mio,” Marcello said.
“See? You don’t love me. You’re leading me on when you say that you do.”
Beulah looked up straight into Marcello’s eyes perceiving his discombobulation.
“I do believe that I can love you as I do because it’s part of my character, it’s part of my culture,” he said.
“So, are you ready to have a monogamous relationship with me?”
“I am not ruling that out. It takes time, though. Octavio Paz says that love can only succeed if the surrender is mutual,” Marcello said.
Jenny took a deep breath. Beulah could relate to what the woman was doing because she did the same when getting ready to jump at her prey.
“Sounds nice,” Jenny said. “But, you know what? I think that you’re a snob and a player.”
“Why are you calling me that?”
“Because you’ve been doing and saying things that men in this country don’t do unless they mean it.”
“I mean what I say.”
“No, you don’t. You just are playing me to get what you want.”
“What is it that I want,” Marcello wanted to know as he rubbed his fingers against Beulah’s head.
“You just want to have sex with me and then toss me out. Or worse, you want me to be just another member of your gallery of women you like to sleep around with.”
Beulah could feel how this fight was corroding Marcello’s spirit. She was afraid for him.
“That’s not the way I look at it,” Marcello grabbed Beulah’s withers, an outlet for his increasing tension. She took this with understanding.
“You come to me with your Italian charm, your sweet accent. You get the doors and the tabs. You speak of movies, books and authors I’ve never heard of, like this Octopus Pass… “
“Actually, it’s Octavio Paz,” muttered Marcello, but Jenny was no longer listening to him.
“You do things that American men don’t do. You say my love too easily. You make me feel like a princess. But it’s all bullshit because I know you’re manipulating me. You just want to fuck me in order to feed your Italian ego. You are not serious about the relationship.”
Marcello released Beulah’s withers and scratched his head. Faking a smile he asked –“Why are you telling me this?”
Raising her voice Jenny answered –“Because it’s time someone calls you out on your crap.”
“You make it sound like you’re exposing a dangerous man for the world to see,” Marcello said.
“Eventually I am going to contact all your women friends on your Facebook and tell them about this conversation.”
“What the fuck?”
Now Beulah was upset. She just was mirroring Marcello’s absorbing the shock.
Marcello, outraged –“Perchè ti comporti in questo modo? Perchè sei talmente arrabbiata con me?”
Beulah recognizes this. Whenever Marcello is upset he speaks in this strange language.
Jenny, prodding at Marcello –“In English! Speak to me in English, you prick.”
“You’re out of your mind. Why are you going on such a rant? We just made love, ferchrissake. We were having a good time and all of a sudden you’re mad at me? What the fuck is going on with you?”
“I just can’t stand your kind. You’re a snob and a player. I won’t let you manipulate my feelings!”
Marcello, pointing a finger at Jenny –“I’ve been honest with you from the very beginning. I’ve never even insinuated anything that could mislead you as to who I am.”
Jenny, looking down to Marcello –“Insinuated? There you go again, the snobbish Latin lover.”
That was it. Beulah knew it was the end of the fight.
“I am not going to take your anger,” Marcello said. “It’s not my problem. Please leave my house.”
“Are you kicking me out?”
Beulah saw Jenny grab her clothes and put on a t-shirt inside out. The woman rushed out of the kitchen into the living room and opened the front door slamming it in her way out, leaving a bad vibration into the air.
That’s what happened last weekend. Beulah can’t make sense of the whole incident. Why would a person first show comfort and closeness with another one and show the exact opposite a few moments later? Do they miss each other after they break apart? Does Marcello miss the women he had once captured but then let go? Sometimes Beulah finds herself missing Elizabeth, her one-time master who also got to be with Marcello until she let Beulah go with him.
There are so many things that Beulah can’t understand. But she’s okay with it.
Marcello stops at a park bench to catch his breath. Beulah jumps on the bench and stands wagging her tail. Marcello sits down still holding the leash. Beulah notices the sweat-drops on Marcello’s forehead and goes on licking them off. She likes to lick Marcello’s face because of its unique salty flavor.
Marcello seems to enjoy what Beulah is doing.
“Tuo amore per me è senza limiti.”
Beulah pauses and looks baffled at Marcello for a second before going back at licking his sweat drops.
“Can’t you get me in Italian yet, Beulah? Okay, here it goes –You’re the only bitch ever who loves me unconditionally for who I am.”
Beulah doesn’t know what Marcello is talking about. All she knows is that she must now follow Marcello, the leader of her one-dog pack.