Avery was seized by a restlessness that mocked him from every corner of the house. Like the last repetition of a weight that he could not lift, a futility that he could not reconcile. His brother was in trouble, and the whole thing felt wrong. He knew that anyone, under any circumstances, was capable of murder. Love was always a powerful motive, but mostly that was when it was denied or warped, and whatever else had happened, Harlan had loved Eddie. Whether that had been reciprocal, Avery would never know.
Eddie hadn’t left his wife. Harlan had been a mister rather than a mistress and a lot of the time, the married men didn’t leave but Avery had asked him and he seemed okay with it. They did not discuss their sex lives, but the unspoken agreement was that space was given without being asked for.
The dogs had settled in for the night, and Avery knew that sleep was out of the question. He told himself that he would just take a walk, nothing too strenuous. Moving was the best antidote to his inertia and his anxieties.
Just a walk.
He undressed, unbuckled his prosthetic and turned out the lights. If anyone called at the house, then the lateness of the hour would have meant things were fucked anyway, and he had always been free to come and go as he pleased. Changing hurt, but it was like losing your virginity on repeat, a little pain, some blood on occasion and you were never the same afterwards.
The world was a richer place through the senses that change engendered. Bringing his muzzle close to the ground, Avery’s nostrils dilated and he inhaled the ground, searching for one particular scent.
The volatile oils of his brother’s particular signature, strengthened by association, repetition and memory are as bright as a raver’s outfit, almost overwhelming but Avery follows the trail away from the house, keeping off the road but pausing to calibrate. A jackrabbit caught his . attention. Avery growled but he had more pressing business to attend to. It was like seeing someone light up a cigarette when you’re two days into quitting but he managed to stay on point.
The trail grew faint, mingling with the exhaust fumes before he caught a thick pool of it and he scampered across the tarmac. The scene had been processed, the different flavours of carbon dioxide, intestinal flora, different brands of tobacco, partially digested simple carbohydrates and coffee. Two bouquets of haemoglobin, one that was close enough to Harlan that it made him draw close to confirm it. The patrol car gone for processing, but enough scent remained that Avery could tell that this was where Eddie was waiting for Harlan.
Avery paced in a circle, inhaling deeply and having the ciliated epithelials work like a Google search until he lowered his muzzle to the ground. Something cloying in it’s sweetness, like gingerbread. It made his eyes swim and he paced in circles again until it passed. Two sets of blood scents, one of which was Harlan’s and so faint that it was barely present and another, more powerful in volume and then this, a chemical sweetness that he didn’t recognise. Then it came to him.
He raised his muzzle to the sky and howled. There were other scents here, a gritty, dank perspiration, dirt packed hard and tight and a scent that was a handmaiden to it. Old, sharp like wine left too long in the bottle, dry bread and something wrong within it that made Avery growl. It went off a few feet then disappeared entirely.
Like someone had driven off.
Avery ran home.
There was work to be done.
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