“He hasn’t eaten in at least a week.”
“You’re feeding him, right?”
“Of course, but he isn’t eating.”
“Manson?” Luce poked the sleeping hunger artist with a delicate finger soliciting a ragged breath from thinly veiled ribs.
“He’s still alive,” Vincent said, his voice somber.
“Doesn’t look it.”
“I know, look how skinny he is.”
“When he dies can we dry out his bones and frame them in a shadow box?”
“How do you dry out bones?”
“I don’t know. Manson?” Luce ran a finger down his back, feeling how loose the skin had gotten. The creature cocked its heavy head to one side, eyelids held firmly over its bulging eyes, and opened its sticky mouth. Then closed it. Vincent grabbed wriggling food from the silk plant leaning in the corner and held it close to the thing’s mouth. It sat, eyes closed and impassive, pulling in harsh and deep breaths that wracked its body. Luce frowned. Vincent sighed.
“Should we just kill him?” He asked, standing back a little.
“Put him out of this misery?”
“What’d Dr. Amy say?”
“There’s nothing they can do, he’s too small.” Luce pursed her lips.
“So we just have to watch this happen?”
“It’s part of life I guess.”
“Can we set him free? Then he can just die in nature like he probably wanted anyway.”
“Then what if we can’t find the bones?”
“To frame, right.” Vincent scratched his chin, “I need to shave.”
“I need to cook dinner, are you hungry?”
“What are we having?”
“Whatever you want.”
“If that’s what you want.” Luce secured the cage. She didn’t want the cats getting at him.
“Good night Manson,” Vincent said. He had started saying it two days ago, in case it happened to be on of Manson’s last moments. Luce rubbed the top of Vincent’s shaved head, feeling the short, soft stubble that grew there. Vincent grabbed her hand and kissed it.
“I’ll make dinner,” she said and left the room. Vincent watched her walk out and went into the bathroom to shave.
Downstairs, in the kitchen, Luce grated three kinds of cheese and thought about how pretty a white shadow box with black matte and a bleached white skeleton would look on her wall. She imagined they could always bury him, let nature do its work and then dig him up later. She could glue the bones together she supposed, they were porous after all. Her mind drifted to work and errands, minutia flitted through her head as she watched chicken sizzle in the Teflon pan. The dog sat at her feet, waiting for Luce, distracted by thought, to drop something on the floor. Luce patted the dog on the head and absent mindedly checked his ears, he was recovering from an ear infection and Luce wanted to make sure they were clean.
“Smells good, Pumpkin,” Vincent said from the kitchen door.
“Is he still alive?”
“I didn’t check.” Vincent grabbed a Pepsi from the fridge and Luce turned back to her avocado halves. She stuck the pointed edge of the knife into the pit and applied leverage to dig the pit out. It popped out and landed with a thud on the floor.
“****,” Luce hissed, snatching the pit up before the dog could get it.
“You ok Pumpkin,” Vincent said from the couch, flipping through the channels.
“I love this movie,” Luce said, choking down iced tea and whisky, while she giggled at witty dialogue. Vincent nodded his head.
“Did I tell you what happened at work today?”
“Fred accused the drivers of stealing gas.”
“That guy’s an ****,” Luce said shaking her head, “Lily stuck up for you right?”
“Of course. She always does. Oh, and Tina.”
“The ex- and stripper,” Luce said and wrinkled her nose.
“Yes. She shaved a stripe in the side of her head and tattooed stars there.”
“I can’t believe you dated her.”
“She looked good when I had her.”
“I’m tired,” Luce said. Vincent nodded.
“Think he’s still alive?” Luce said, peering through the glass at the prone body lying on the substrate.
“He’s kinda tenacious, maybe.”
“I don’t wanna.”