The suede couch is far too small for me. My legs jut off the side and dangle above the floor. The entire house smells like green peppers. It is quiet. Once in the while the refrigerator makes a loud buzzing noise, and every time it does I jump slightly.
Three of the five bedrooms in this house are occupied by family members in various states of sleep. I hear my sister's television playing from her room. She uses it as a way of falling asleep, and infomercials will bleed through her bedroom door well into the early morning.
Something in the kitchen just fell over. The sound was soft, like a plastic bag falling to the linoleum floor. The ceiling creaks as somebody upstairs walks around. The footsteps are slow and heavy. The house is not so quiet after all.
The boxer is barking loudly as the realtor opens the door to the apartment. The boxer's owner holds him by the collar though he still struggles to get closer to me. His heavy panting becomes a wheeze as the collar presses against his windpipe. His owners apologize with slightly embarrassed smiles. Hopping on his hind legs grants him momentary freedom as his owner's hand slips from around the collar. He leaps against my leg and huffs my coat. I reach down and scratch his head. His short brown hair is coarse, like beard stubble. My hand is suddenly warm and wet as he sniffs, then licks it.
As I come back through the living room on my way out he has settled down and is sitting between his owners, staring at the television. He cocks his head toward me, but barely makes a sound. He rests his head on his front paws.
It was hard to figure out where the question came from, because she was so short. We just heard the disembodied question "Were you just talking about Bono?" float into the deli. Turning around I saw a short woman, not much taller than the deli counter. She was looking at me and smiling. I told her we were, and her eyes widened slightly. Her smile was full of yellowed teeth as she began to discuss Bono's work in her favorite movie, Across the Universe. Her perfectly flat-ironed but thin hair shook as she spoke of this movie and of The Beatles. A surprisingly harsh voice for such a quaint-looking woman, who may as well be mid-level management at a retail store with her nondescript, inoffensive appearance. Bono was great in that movie, she said, but she wished he acted more. He has a pretty face, she said. She stopped her discussion as abruptly as she began it. She ordered a pound of ham, which I served to her. Taking the bag, she looked at me and winked, saying "I am the walrus" before turning and walking away.