By Albert Chen

Written August 4, 1997

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The other day my dog committed suicide at the bridge over the arroyo. He didn't get killed, or kill himself accidentally, he consciously knew what he was doing. We'd been out on a walk just before dawn, after that crazy married woman thing, and because it was early in the morning, I had let him off his leash to run around. Mochi trotted on ahead sniffing here, snuffing there until he came to the center of the bridge. There was a seventy foot drop to the bottom but he just looked out over the horizon and admired the clouds. I saw Mochi bow his head once then rear on his haunches and leap to the top of the railing in a blur of white fur.

"Mochi!" I barked. "Get down!"

He just sat there and continued to stare at the clouds in a very contemplative way. When I finally made it to the foot of the bridge, Mochi turned his head my direction and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. His normally hazel eyes were a clear amber, clearer than I had ever seen them before.

They say mixed dogs are smarter than pure-bred ones; I'll believe that. Mochi's paws were a little too big for a Samoyed anyway and the sense of enlightenment in that gaze while he was on that rail was more profound than any I had ever seen before or will probably ever see again, man or beast. It was like looking to the eyes of God.

Then without a sound, he turned away and leapt to his death.

Something about that look he gave me belied any sense of alarm. It seemed so natural, as if he knew it was time to go. I don't presume to understand it; I don't expect I ever will. I only know that I watched him go.

I never found a body.

* * *

I was friends with three women that summer. Two of them were beautiful and the unmarried of the two bordered on the popular definition of the supermodel. The friend I was with was neither of those. I mean, I found Grace pretty, even attractive, but we had been friends since childhood and I thought of her more as a best friend or a twin sister than anything else. She was first generation Chinese American and understood where I was coming from on the Asian American thing.

We were having coffee in the park; Rather, I was having coffee and she was having seven packs of sugar and a hint of coffee to go with them. Mochi sat in distance and watched a monarch butterfly bob around a copse of flowers. We watched a man trying to play catch with his Siberian Husky. The dog was barking at Mochi, but Mochi just looked his way then turned back to the butterfly.

"I love Alaskan Huskies" Grace said.

"Siberian." I said.


"It's Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute"

"Really? I didn't know that."

The man tossed the ball and the husky uncomprehending, let it hit him in the eye. The dog yelped in confusion. Mochi looked their way then turned back to his butterfly

"Anyway, huskies can be pretty stupid." I said.

"How can you say that? That's a pretty broad statement."

"For the most part, they're bred and trained to follow other dogs and pull in sled teams." I said. "They're trained to follow, so they tend to be pretty dumb."

"That's true isn't it?" We stared at the Siberian who was still trying to play catch. "What about the lead dogs then?"

"I think the lead dog is usually something other than a husky because of that."

"Oh." she said.

Mochi watched a small child blow dandelion dust into the air.

"You were telling me about the married woman." Grace said.

"Oh yeah, the married woman. Pamela you mean."

"Whatever, I can never get the names right, I just remember her as the 'married woman.'"

"What about her?"

"Did you talk to her?"

"Yeah, I talked to her."

"What did you say?"

"I don't know, it was hard."

"You've got to tell her it's over."

"I did, the first day. She just doesn't seem to get it. I mean, its not like I wanted this to happen. She was nice, a good friend. I just hate hurting people."

There were a lot of dogs in the park; A Pomeranian on a leash came sniffing around Mochi.

"Pam owns a Pomeranian." I said.

"Bitchy dogs, don't you think?"

"I guess they just don't realize that they are small. It bit me once when I was over."

"You've got to tell her it's over." Grace repeated. "What was it you said when it happened? You called me at four in the morning and said it was like losing your virginity all over again."

"No, I said there was regret, like a woman losing her virginity."

"What is that supposed to mean anyway?"

"I don't know, I crossed some sort of line that night. I felt like my morality had been violated. Nothing was supposed to happen, I'm not even sure how it happened."

"How about her? How does she feel?"

"She said she understood when I told her that it couldn't happen any more. She was very nice about it. Very understanding. I threw up in the garbage cans in back of the apartment afterwards, I mean the whole thing was an accident, and I felt like I was breaking up with somebody. And you know, I couldn't help thinking about her husband and how he would feel. I don't know how to make things right."

"You have to break it off."

"I did."

"She still calls you though."

"Yeah, I don't get it. I talk to her pretty often, but she keeps telling me she understands that I need my space."


"Yeah, I know. I didn't even know I was looking for my space."

"Is she Chinese?"

"No, she's full blown Scottish. Her parents immigrated in the sixties. What does that have to do with it?"

"I don't know, just curious. I thought she might have some of that Asian repression going."

"I have the Asian repression. That's probably why it happened in the first place. Jim says its because I'm not promiscuous enough. He says if I play with the single women, I wouldn't be tempted by the married ones."

"Jimmy's a pig." she said. "Sounds like something he would say."

"He's got a point though. I haven't dated anyone in almost three years."

"It's not like you haven't had a shortage of opportunity. You're just picky."

"Or stupid."

"Or stupid."

"What happened to the Asia-Latina girl? What's her name, the ubergirl?"

"Kim?" I asked.


"She rows crew too."


"That was just a big crush; I felt like a kid whenever I was around her; and I never did ask her out. Anyway I think she had a boyfriend."

"Like that stopped you with the 'married woman'."

"It should have."

"It didn't."

"I know, what do you want from me?"

"Sorry, sorry. Its just it was so unlike you."

"Don't you think I know that? Forget it," I said. "It's not important anyway."

"I'm sorry." she said. "I shouldn't judge you."

"Its okay, I deserve it anyway."

"So what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to have to go talk to her again, I guess. What else can I do?"

"Don't be so nice this time. She'll appreciate it more in the end if you are straight with her."

"Yeah, I know." I said.

* * *

I hadn't thought about Kim in ages. She really was an uberwoman. The first time I ever talked to her I felt giddy, like I had won something, or been accepted to school, or something; I can't really describe it. It felt like an achievement and a reward just talking to her. At five-nine she was tall, probably a product of her Japanese-Costa Rican heritage. She had these eggplant highlights in long straight hair that, indoors, still looked black, but when the sun hit it there was a purplesque sheen to her hair that was quite exotic. She liked to wear violet contacts in her Latina eyes to complement those highlights.

Kim was devastating not merely by the way she dressed nor the way she looked, rather, she innocently wielded a power that floored people, at least floored me. Kim seemed incapable of nothing: No physical feat, artistic endeavor nor intellectual success seemed beyond her. Though her actual accomplishments may not have covered every one of those arenas, they all seemed well within her capability.

She was always so "put-together" and mature. And yet, her eyes sparkled when she laughed and her smile turned my knees to water. (I'm getting maudlin, I know, but she made me feel that way around her.)

Jim wasn't supposed to come over for an hour still, so I poked around a bit and found Kim's number on the back of a business card.

Before I had a chance to call though, the phone rang. Because of Pamela's recent calls, I hadn't been picking up the phone. The answering machine clicked on briefly, then clicked off. A moment later, the phone rang again, and again the caller hung up without leaving a message. It was times like these that I wished I had caller ID. The phone continued to ring like that for the entire hour. I turned off the ringer and waited for Jim in the hall with Mochi. Even with the ringer off, I could hear the answering machine clicking off and on.

Jim was an interminable ten minutes late.

* * *

I'm an obsessive hobbyist with AADD, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, which is to say that I when I dabble in things, I tend to take them to their logical end. Jimmy was my cohort in these productions. The project could be anything: We've raced rollerblades, hung photography in art galleries, even gone to Nationals in archery. This month we were working on animation for the local sick and twisted festival. Jimmy, in his insanity had bought a used Bolex camera and light table for the endeavor. My responsibility was to draw the almost ten thousand pictures for the film. Jim was a doctor at a local clinic with a lot of zeal and little time. I was a teacher at a local school with equal zeal and little money. Because of our creative similarities and resource differences, we made a good team.

"So I had this dream." Jim was saying. "I was this butterfly..."

I was hardly listening; Jim was in his Tao te Ching mode again. Mochi on the other hand seemed quite attentive. Jim had unplugged the phone and answering machine and was busy inking my penciled drawings. "Do Hedgehogs...Nah." was coming along nicely.

It was about half an hour into our work when my pager went off. My pager is keyed into voice mail, so I plugged in the phone to check messages. To my relief, the phone didn't spontaneously begin ringing again. (Jim looked up disapprovingly.) I coded in for my messages and found that I had several waiting. The school had called about a change in my schedule and Grace called to say she would try to come over to help us out after work. Then, of course, came the inevitable Pamela messages.

"I've been calling from your lobby phone but you're not there. I don't know where else to go. You're the only one I can turn to."

I didn't know how to react to that. As Pamela's friend part of me felt compelled to help her somehow, yet the intelligent part of me told me I would be stupid to do anything.

"I keep calling up but you don't answer. I checked the parking garage and your car is there, where are you?"

I played the messages for Jim.

"I can't not help a friend." I said.

"She stopped being your friend the moment she came on to you." he replied.

"That's cynical." I said. "You don't think you can be friends with someone after expressing your feelings to?"

"No, I think you can, but that's not what I meant. She stopped being your friend the moment that she crossed the line as a married woman and put you in a morally compromising position. I mean, marriage should mean something, and she still came on to you."

"And I let her." I said.

"You let her kiss you." he replied. "You didn't sleep with her, she just kissed you."

"Its bad enough."

"But it doesn't compromise your integrity."

"Grace seemed to think it was bad enough, she really raked me over the coals over it when I first told her. She told me to talk to her."

"Definitely not. Cut contact now, it better for her in the long run. And Grace ... Grace. That's a whole 'nother can of worms."

"What do you mean?"

"Never mind. So it was bad, get over it and move on. You have to stop beating yourself up over that, because outside of a bit of guilt and a misstep, you didn't do anything wrong ... yet. Anyway, it was probably good for you, you probably wouldn't do it again."

"That's for sure. What's with the sudden fit of morality and uprightness? Aren't you the one who keeps telling me to 'boink' them as they come?"

"Yeah, but you didn't do anything wrong, and you act like you did. If you could go and sleep with people without any kind of regret, you'd be much happier, you just don't seem to be able to do that."

"Should I call her? It sounds like she really needs some help. Her husband's a real asshole, maybe he hurt her or something."

"You shouldn't get involved, that's how you got into trouble in the first place."

"She was my friend though ..."

On cue the phone rang. Jim and I both stared at it.

"It's her." Jim said. "Don't pick it up."

I had only reconnected the phone, and not the answering machine, so the phone kept ringing and ringing.

"I took her to lunch that day."


"It was a nice place."

"Still not an excuse for her to make a pass at you."

"She's fighting with her husband, she needs help."

"Not from you."

"She's my friend." I said and snatched the receiver off the hook.

"You're stupid." Jim said and walked back to the other room.

"Hello?" I said.

"Hi....Its me."

"You can't call me like this." I said.

"I didn't know where else to go."

"Isn't there someone else you can talk to?"

"Not really, you're the only one who understands me."

"How do you know that?"

"I do." she said. "You're all that's good about men. You care about feelings, you help people."

"I can't talk to you." I said.

"Why? Why are you pushing me away?"

"You know why."

"I don't understand. Don't you like me any more?"

"No. I don't." I lied. The stronger you are attracted to someone, the harder you push away when the situation goes awry.

"You said I was attractive. You said you were attracted to me, that if I weren't married, you would have asked me out."

"But you are married, and that makes all the difference in the world."

"But you kissed me." she said.

"No, you kissed me."

She burst into tears. There was silence except for her sobs, and strangely her crying only made me irritated. If she hadn't been on the phone I might have slapped her, except I probably wouldn't have. I took my ear away from the receiver for a while. Eventually the sobbing subsided. I put my ear back to the phone. There was a long period of quiet.

Then, in the smallest of voices she said: "I think I love you."

Jim was right. This was stupid. This was insane.

I couldn't take it any more, it was too much, so, without answering, I hung up the phone.

Jim was at the doorway. "You did the right thing." he said.

"I feel like shit." I said and went to the bathroom to be sick. Mochi sat next to me as I retched into the toilet.

The phone rang again. It stopped after two rings then didn't ring again. I cleaned myself up and went back into the living room. Jim was working on a drawing.

"I unplugged the phone." he said without looking up.

"Was it her?" I asked.

"I don't know." he said.

"It was her."


I sat down at the table. Hedgehogs having sex didn't seem so funny any more.

Jim inked for a while, while I looked out the window feeling miserable.

"I did the right thing, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did."

"What else was I supposed to do?"

"I don't know, man, I really don't know."

I put some food into Mochi's dish for dinner. Mochi looked at me with concerned eyes then finally turned to his food and sniffed at it. Eventually, I picked up a pencil and got back to work on some backgrounds. We drew for a while, must have been thirty or forty minutes. While we worked, Mochi napped in the corner with shallow breaths. Strangely, he hadn't touched his dinner.

We continued working for a while. Finally, out of nowhere, Jim said, "Why is it that some people are more insane than others?"

"Are you speaking as one of the sane or the insane."

"No, really, does insanity run in the family? Did Pamela's parents have affairs? Or did she just spontaneously go rabid?"

"I think, in a way, we breed for it?"

"What, eugenics?" he asked.

"Not unless your parents were part of some genetic breeding conspiracy. No, I don't think its that conscious." I said. "We find certain kinds of people attractive and tend to seek them out and hook up with them. That tendency gets passed on from generation to generation; Whether by heredity or genetics, it doesn't really matter.

"So your family has a tendency to be attracted to rabid women? That would explain a lot about you."

"My family does tend to be emotionally unstable. I think we've bred for intelligence and have been for a while. Everyone in my family looks for and is attracted to intelligence almost before anything else. We even go so far as to be annoyed by "stupidity" and irrationality. We're so enamored by intelligence that we tend to overlook other things, like emotional stability."

"So if she is beautiful, smart and totally whacked, its okay?"

"Kind of. I mean, look at my family, look at my track record, heck, look at me. We're pretty smart, not terribly ugly, but we're stubborn, emotional and depressive; And I think we've been breeding for it."

"I wonder what my family breeds for?" Jim mused.

"Promiscuity, financial incompetence, and an uncanny ability to find the largest slice of pizza in a round." I replied without hesitation.

"I'm serious."

"Like I'm not?"

"I think we breed for introspection." Jim said. "Unlike you though, we're not pure-breeds. We don't have an errant stupid-lets-get-involved-with-a-married-woman-then-regret-it gene going. After all, mixed genes are smarter."

"Fuck you!" I said, throwing an eraser at him.

"Its true, I'm more stable than you are and more laid back about life too."

"And you're a butterfly at night."

"Ah, no, I'm a butterfly in my other life. Right now we're its dream." Jim got up and went over to the corner where Mochi was sleeping. "Mochi understands, he's a Taoist too." Mochi woke and raised his head upon hearing his name. Jim gave him a hug. "Oh, my god, have you noticed how thin Mochi is getting?"

"I know," I said. "He doesn't seem to eat much these days. I have a vet appointment for him next week. He doesn't complain though."

"Mochi's too laid back to complain. Life is a river flowing in an endless circle, right boy?"

"A regular Buddha-dog." I said.

"Wrong religion." Jim said.


As if in affirmation of what we were discussing, Mochi stood and padded on his oversized paws to the window. Climbing to the sill, he sat and watched the clouds go by.

"Did Grace say she was coming over?" Jim asked.

"She said she might."

"When did she say?"

"Around eleven." I said.

"It's eleven-twenty now."

"She's working at the lab, she might not make it."

"I'm hungry."

"I have left over pizza in the fridge. Want some?"

"Yeah, that sounds good."

"I'll go get it."

I went to the kitchen to reheat the pizza. As I put it into the oven, the door bell rang. Grace must have followed someone up. "Can you get that?" I called.

"Sure." Jim replied and opened the door.

After that, everything was chaos.

* * *

By the time I could make sense of what was going on, I found myself back in my apartment. The EMTs had talked to me, the doctors had talked to me, the police had talked to me; Everyone had asked me every shred of detail of what had happened. Exhausted, I eventually fell asleep in the hospital emergency room while waiting to discover what the prognosis on Jim was.

Jim wasn't too bad, they said. They were going to keep him for observation, they said. Go home and rest, they said. I could visit him in the morning, they said. I peeled myself off the orange vinyl bench and made my way home.

Even though I live alone, the apartment seemed unnaturally empty without Jim. There seemed to be a clammy feeling to the air too. No one had cleaned the blood that had spattered on the wall or the from ground where Jim had fallen, but the police had taken the knife when they had taken Pamela away.

Mochi whimpered in the semi-darkness of the pre-dawn and came to my side. I knelt down and stroked his off-white fur finding comfort there. Mochi nudged me towards the door and handed me his leash off the hook. Going for a walk seemed like a good idea. The apartment was too creepy anyway. We walked a couple of blocks out to the park by the arroyo. The light just before dawn was colorful and surreal. The deep hued blue gave way to light striking the high clouds from just beyond the horizon and splayed unnatural color across the sky.

Because it was early in the morning, I had let Mochi off his leash to run around. Mochi trotted on ahead sniffing here, snuffing there. He would pause every so often looking at the color as if in contemplation. He made his way across the park to the bridge. Mochi bowed his head once then reared on his haunches to leap to the top of the railing.

His eyes were as clear as amber.

* * *

The sun had come up over the horizon before I found my way in front of Grace's apartment door. I rang the doorbell, but didn't think I could stand any more. My breaths were coming in short convulsions, my brain seemed stuffed with cotton, and I couldn't seem to stop shaking. Reeling, I slumped down against the opposite wall and stared at the leash still in my hands. Tears fell out of my eyes as I tried to rend the worn nylon away. Instead it just seemed to burn slowly into my palms.

"Oh my God!" Grace screamed. "What happened?" I hadn't notice her open the door.

In her night shirt, Grace rushed out down and helped me up. Somehow we made it to her living room. She dumped me onto her couch and ran into the bathroom for some towels and some water. I hadn't noticed I was bleeding.

"I couldn't find Mochi." I said.

"Did he run away?" she asked. "Where did he go?"

I shook my head. "I don't know."

"Where did you look?" she asked cleaning away some brambles and gravel from my cuts.

"In the arroyo." I said.

"What was he doing there?"

"We were going for a walk." I said sipping the water. "I didn't want to stay in the apartment."

"In the arroyo?"

"No, in the park."

"How did he get into the arroyo then?"

"He jumped off the bridge." I said.

"He jumped?" she asked. "That's a seventy foot drop! Dogs don't jump off bridges, not unless they're sick or something."

"He knew what he was doing."

"What do you mean by that?"

"He looked at me. He knew what he was doing."

"And you couldn't find a body?"


"Did you look?" she asked dabbing away blood from my leg. "Of course you did, stupid question."

"Jim's okay." I said.

"What?" she asked.

"Jim's okay. The doctors said Jim would be okay. They just want to keep him for a couple of days."

"I don't understand."

"Jim is okay." I repeated. "Didn't you get my messages?"

We both turned to look at the answering machine and saw the light still blinking.

"I was tired." Grace said. "I was going to check it in the morning."

"Pamela stabbed Jim."


"The married woman!"

"Why would Pamela stab Jim?"

"I don't know ... I think she was trying to stab me."

"Oh my God. Are you all right?"

"I'm okay, Jim isn't."

Grace turned away cowed by my tone. "I'm sorry." she said.

"No, I'm sorry." I said putting a hand on her shoulder. "Everything just seems to be happening at once. I don't know what to do. Pamela's crazy, Jim is in the hospital, and Mochi ... Mochi's gone." I felt the hurt swell up again started crying again.

Grace turned to me and brushed away the tears. My hands slipped limply to my sides.

"Its okay, its okay." she said softly.

I couldn't reply.

"Its okay." she said and bent her head to mine kissing me gently on the lips.

She searched my eyes a moment and kissed me again. This time I returned it. The kiss was long, soft and healing; And though there was chaos outside the door, in her apartment, my life slowly came back to me and my fears were laid to rest. The moment was magical.

We made love. The experience was emotional, yet somehow urgent and compelling. By the time we were finished, I felt whole again, at least as whole as one could be in the circumstance. The feeling transcended anything else I had experienced before, but did not last.

She tightened gently then relaxed into my arms. I kissed her, then overcome by emotion, held her close to me. Thoughts raced through my head and I relished in her warmth. As I held her though, I felt something subtly change in her body language, as if she had become stiffer, or more detached.

"Is anything wrong?" I asked softly as I could.

She shook her head. Something was wrong.

"What is it?" I asked again.

"Nothing." she said, then pushing me away burst into tears and ran into the bathroom. The door slammed before I could reach it.

"What's wrong?" I asked. "Grace, what's wrong?"

"Go away!"

"Grace, I don't understand. What's wrong?" I heard her sobbing behind the door. I stood there not knowing what to do. Eventually I knocked softly on the door.

"Grace, are you all right?" I asked.

"Please go away." she said in as even a tone as she could. "I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"

I was confused, and frightened and felt very powerless. I went back to the bedroom and collected my clothes. After dressing, I went back to the bathroom door.

"Grace, I'm going to go now."

There was no reply. I stood in the middle of the living room unsure as what to do. Grace stayed in the bathroom occasionally emitting a sob or taking a tissue. After a long while, I turned from the room and left the apartment.

I walked the entire way back to the hospital.

* * *

Visiting hours had just begun, and I made my way to Jim's bed in the wards. Jim was lying with his eyes closed and a silly grin on his face. I pulled up a chair and sat next to his bed.

Without opening his eyes, Jim said, "I can't stop laughing about it, can you?"

Considering the way I was feeling, I didn't answer.

"I mean, you have this problem with this married woman, I tell you to get out of it. You ignore me, and talk to her anyway."

"I'm sorry." I mumbled.

"So she goes rabid on you and comes to kill you with a butcher knife, no wait, a French cleaver. But does she get you? No. She stabs me instead, the innocent bystander. Giving me a pneumothorax and putting me in the hospital for a few days."

"I said I'm sorry."

Jim opened his eyes, a bit taken aback. "Hey, dude, take it easy I was just marvelling at the universal irony of it all, I wasn't blaming anyone. I just thought it was funny. Mochi would understand."

"No he wouldn't. He's dead."

Strangely, Jim didn't seem surprised. "Did he kill himself?"

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"He lost a lot of weight in the last couple of weeks right? I suspect he was dying and being the enlightened being that he was, decided to end everything on his own terms rather than suffer to the end."

"I don't get it, why didn't you say anything?"

"The vet was going to tell you anyway, I didn't know Mochi would take matters in his own hands so soon."

"Oh." I said a little defeated.

"He's happier this way, I know it, you know it too."

Strangely I had to agree.

"So where's Grace? Did she come with you?" Jim asked.

"She couldn't make it." I said. I didn't feel like discussing what had happened that morning. That was Grace's and my business and no one else's. "She'll probably come later."

"I hope so. It's maddening in here. They do say doctors make the worst patients. I'm living proof of that."

I smiled. "You'll be all right, gives you a good excuse to bother the nurses."

"Who me? Nah."

I got up to leave.

"You know what?" Jim said. "You should give Kim a call."

"Why is that?" I asked.

"I don't know, it would probably make you feel better though."

"You know, I think you're right."

* * *

Sunlight had chased away the gloom by the time I got home, and even with Mochi gone, the apartment didn't seem quite so ominous any more. I found a mop and a sponge and began cleaning the blood from the wall and the floor. I had had Kim's card in my pocket from the day before and had found a pay phone in the hospital lobby to make the call.

The conversation had gone well. She had wondered why I hadn't ever called before. I told her I had been too scared to. She told me that was too bad, because she had wanted to do something together. I asked why she hadn't called me, to which she replied, that I had neglected to give her my number. The conversation was like that, light and entertaining. She said she was going away to medical school in a couple of weeks, but asked if I wanted to get together before that. Of course I did, and we made plans for the next day. When I had hung up it occurred to me that although she was going away in a couple of weeks, in the light of everything else that had gone on during the summer, that it was okay, and I didn't mind.

I said good-bye to Jimmy and promised I would visit again tomorrow. Then feeling giddy I made my way home. On the way I stopped by the pound to look at the dogs. In the kennels I found a mixed white Samoyed with oversized paws, almost the spitting image of Mochi, only much younger and made arrangements to get him. They needed to hold him for a few days for shots and papers. I went back to the kennel and hugged my new friend. When I left, I looked back at him and noticed that he had the clearest of amber eyes.