Scene: Ishmael's, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, early afternoon, New Year's Eve, 2009. Mark Twain, director of the Office of Persona Management for Roxie's World, walks in, soaking wet from the freezing rain falling from a bruised-looking sky. He is about to unleash a torrent of curses when he spots Moose, typist for Roxie's World, seated alone at the bar. Instead of her usual lunch of a salad and Evian, she is tucking into a dry martini and a veritable buffet of bad-for-you-food: Buffalo wings, fried mozzarella sticks, and a towering platter of nachos, accompanied by two extra bowls of queso and something that might be gravy. Twain walks up to the bar, quietly signaling to barkeep Peter Coffin for his usual, a whiskey neat. He sits down beside Moose and tenderly places a hand on top of one of hers.
Mark Twain: Moose, I am so, so sorry.
Moose (patting his hand and reaching for another chicken wing): Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your saying that.
Mark Twain: How is Goose doing?
Moose (after a big gulp of martini): Oh, you know. Goose is tough on the outside, tender on the inside. She's hurting. By the way, Peter, I am going to want a double order of fries with gravy to go for Goose. She's craving comfort food.
Mark Twain (as Moose dips a mozzarella stick into the queso): Ah, is she? And how are you doing, Moose?
Moose (chewing, shrugs her shoulders): Meh.
Mark Twain (gesturing to Peter for another round of drinks): I know, I know, Moose. It's awful. Nothing that grieves us can be called little, and Roxie was no little thing, of course. I understand that the dear old girl went fairly quickly in the end. Is that right?
Moose (nods affirmatively while carefully removing the top of the tower of nachos): Yes, we barely made it home from Philadelphia. Our darling Geoffrey, who was taking care of her, called yesterday morning to say she had stopped eating and was having difficulty breathing. We called our good vet, Angel. Geoffey took her to the animal clinic, where she spent the day on oxygen and diuretics. Her lungs were filled with fluid. There was really nothing to be done. We raced down I95 and reached the clinic just minutes before 7, when it closes. We took Roxie out of the oxygen tent and she died in our arms, without drugs, in less than 15 minutes. We felt the last beats of that mighty heart, so fragile yet so strong, in our own hands. People always say, "She waited for us to get there," but it really seemed as if she did.
Mark Twain: Of course she did, Moose. She was one determined little cuss, and she loved the two of you. Fiercely.
Moose: Thanks, Mark. Would you pass me that blue cheese stuff? I seem to have run out of queso.
Mark Twain: Of course. Now, Moose, I realize this is a delicate subject and I don't want to rush you, but we really need to talk about Roxie's World. The transition will be seamless, but we do need to make it, and for that we'll need your help.
Moose: I don't know if I can do it, Mark. I'm not sure I'm up to typing.
Mark Twain: I know it will be difficult, Moose, especially with all that queso on your fingers, but I think we should do it right away. Roxie would want us to, you know. Remember that great line she came up with in May when she was so sick?
Moose (suddenly smiling): Oh, you mean, Old dog bloggers never die -- They just have longer telecommutes?
Mark Twain: Yes, yes! Lord, she was a clever dog, wasn't she? In any case, yes, I think that's exactly the course we should pursue. The embodied Roxie is, alas, no more, but Roxie's World goes on, offering the same eclectic mix of commentary, analysis, and lowbrow humor we've always had. As Roxie said, with a little help from Donna Haraway, we'll just go on "mak[ing] each other up," as we've been doing all along.
Moose (getting up to leave): Sure, I know, Mark. It sounds good, but I'm just not ready yet. My heart is aching too much. Peter, is that take-out order ready? I should get home to Goose.
Mark Twain (standing and reaching into his pocket for a piece of paper): Of course, Moose. Take your time. We'll get back to regular blogalicious programming in the new year. In the meantime, I found this poem for you and Goose. I thought it might give some comfort.
Moose: Thanks, Mark. I'll be in touch. Happy new year.
Moose leaves the bar, with a bag of French fries in one hand and a copy of Robinson Jeffers' "The Housedog's Grave" in the other. She steps out into the cold rain, looks up into the soupy sky, and tries to imagine heaven. With dogs. Later, in front of a fire and with Goose at her side, she pulls out Jeffers' poem, which Twain discovered by way of Mark Doty, and reads the last few lines aloud to Goose:
You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.And yours, too, my sad, sweet lovelies. I am still yours, and I always will be. Peace out.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.
(Image Credits: Picked up here, here, and here.)
With love and gratitude to all the friends, all the fans, and all but one of the docs, but especially to Geoffrey, the sweetest boy in Roxie's World.