“Did Mike on Bike die?”
It’s not an unpopular phrase according to WordPress, which listed it among the search terms that bring people to this site.
Though it may seem that I’ve dropped off the face of the earth, I can say with reasonable certainty that I’m not dead. I’m just in Tasmania.
To prove it to you, my loyal readers, I will walk you through a day in the life of me, a humble house-sitter in the country village of Liena.
I wake up at a quarter past whenever, and when I do I’m often touching noses with Jack. He’s a black cat with yellow eyes and I’m pretty sure he was born of a smokeless flame. I let it slide, though, because he does a cracking Jabba the Hutt impression and seems to share my enthusiasm for canned fish.
In my slippers I open the front door so Jack can go outside to wash his face in sparrow blood and cast demon-spells on the alpacas that live next door. He’s usually back before lunch.
In the meantime I play with Jess, a dog whose brain rattles around her head like a die in a Yahtzee cup. She barks at falling leaves and ignores the smoke detector when I’m making toast, but I don’t hold it against her. We’re best buds, and every day we crawl under fences to go on all sorts of muddy adventures.
Our favorite spot is the ridge where a waterfall begins its journey to the tap on my kitchen sink. Each day Jess and I check the intake pipe for debris, mostly by chasing each other in perfect, stupid circles and hollering between wide-eyed cows. We run over hills so green they make me squint, splashing in ice-cold streams and digging up anything that looks interesting. She loves it like I love her.
When we return we find Jack snoozing on the doorstep, no doubt exhausted from a morning spent levitating over a pentagram. I scoop him into my arms and we three go inside – man, dog and Beelzebub.
Most afternoons I sit on the couch, sipping red wine and shouting at crossword puzzles. Jack sits on my lap, eyes closed as his spirit unlocks hidden portals to the underworld. Jess mostly just licks herself.
Dinner time is at five o’clock sharp. The animals eat brown pellets that smell like feet while I steam whatever winter vegetables the garden has to offer. Everyone gets their fill and an hour later we’re nestled between the warm glows of fireplace and television, watching Stephen Fry make the world a better place on QI.
After the program I put on my cozy clothes and wander through the pages of an old notebook. I write about sunsets and smoky bars, about here and home, about Spanish lessons and Alaskan bike rides and all the heart strings in between.
My reverie is interrupted by gentle scratches at the door. I let the pets outside – Jess for a pee and Jack to summon the devil armies of ghoul and ghost.
They return shivering so I stoke the fire and tuck them into their little beds. Through the screen door I see moths materialize from the silent fog, drawn to a solitary porch light. I flick the switch and they disappear, like so many of these days away.