I can tell something is amiss because he is sitting in a new place – a strange place. Upright in the middle of the living room, attentive to what – I don’t know.
I make my late supper meal of yesterday’s warmed chili over rice.
Still he is out there. Why? I don’t know.
Peeking around the corner, I check. He could be chewing on an old paintbrush – a prize plucked from the basement toolbox. But no, he is just there – in a different way, in this odd place. I don’t know why.
I go back and eat my chili in solitude, me in the kitchen and him out there. Strange to not be watched while I eat, but there is something of more importance than food out in that other room. I peer around the corner again and he glances at me, perhaps wondering why I am so relaxed on such an occasion, one dire enough for him to forego the possibility of a shared spoonful or two of my chili.
I finish and join him in the living room. I cross to him and he remains still vigilant in posture and attentive to what – I don’t know. I come to crouch beside him and follow it – his gaze through this room and into the next, where it falls solidly upon the disruption. It is a new ottoman, square in the corner, delivered late last night. So that’s it. I flashback to him as a puppy, startled at a new tulip that had pushed its way through the spring soil since the last time we were there. It seems clear that ottoman and tulip are equally menacing in their unfamiliarity until he is certain they belong. A day or two without incident will suffice to ease the threat, I suppose.
I take my pad and pen and sit down to write. I pat the cushion with my hand – an invitation – “Come on up.” He hops to the couch and collapses to his side, solid against my leg; his body relaxes and expands with the breath of easy sleep, at last. His shift ended, he lets me take over as the ottoman fades into the recess of webby slumber. With luck, it will be part of the furnishings of home upon waking, just as if they two had always been there, Ollie and the ottoman.