Joseph Musso

Across the street from my apartment building, is a lake. Beside the lake, is a small gazebo. The gazebo has a red roof. Inside the gazebo, a woman with a pony tail paces back and forth. The weight of the world is too much for her. I make a decision.

Arriving there, I could see she had a cat in her arms. It was a dog. It was a baby. The woman was young and looked very sad.

What are you doing.
Leaving him here.
He’s better off.

That night I had a new cat, dog, baby. I couldn’t keep it, so I called the ASPCA, my sister, the police. Before I knew it someone had come. It was my sister. She gave me the not-again look.

I say hello. I lean into her car window. The engine is running. The fumes had drifted and formed a protective cloud around me to keep out her anger.

Don’t talk. Where is it.

In the morning I knew it had to be a dream. There was an empty bottle on the floor. A key I didn’t recognize. My balcony door was wide open.

The gazebo was being freshly painted by the town crew. They’d pulled up in a truck, three of them, and attacked the tiny kiosk with ladder and brush. My sister called. She said the cat had clawed the furniture. The dog had peed on the carpet. The baby wouldn’t stop crying. I told her the truth. I told her I didn’t have a sister.

Joseph Musso lives at the ocean, where the waves stampede and the sun rises kindly. He has had recent fiction appear in Dark Sky Magazine and decomP. His book I Was Never Cool is out there somewhere living its life.

Art by Rachel Davis