CHAPTER TWELVE: THE TRUTH ABOUT FINCH AND DOGS
Three days later, Elliott woke up at the awful noises his alarm clock screeched. He took a shower and dressed up, and before he left, he walked into the spare room where Maya slept. Her small belly was peeking out from the sheets and she had such a peaceful expression on her face that Elliott had to smile. Watching her sleep was one of the things he most missed about being together.
He leaned down and kissed her forehead and she stirred under his touch. Smiling, he closed the door behind her and made sure there was enough food for her to make breakfast before he left for work.
When he turned the light on in his studio, he heard a strange noise inside, but thinking it was the vent, he ignored it. He put his camera on the island and began to get his equipment ready. Then the noise came back.
He looked around with a frown and tried to determine where it came from, but like any other close spaced room, it was hard to determine. He looked behind all the furniture and finally when he opened the drawers of the island, he rolled his eyes when he found Finch there, rolled up in a tight ball.
"Finch, get out of there."
"No," Finch replied, biting his nails.
Elliott let out a sigh and then knelt in front of Finch. "Okay, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Finch said indignantly.
"Okay," Elliott said and rose.
"I'm gonna die alone!" Finch cried.
"What?" Elliott asked.
Finch sniffed and checked his nails for any dirt. "This whole being single thing, it's not for me."
"Aw, don't worry, Finch. You'll find someone."
"Please," Dennis said as he got out of the cabinet. "I've been hearing that one since I was 13. Why don't you also tell me that I have a nice personality, and that there's plenty of time for me to grow and for my voice to change. Do I have someone? Did my voice change? DID IT CHANGE?"
"Alright, calm down," Elliott said, just as many models began to walk into the room.
"I won't calm down! As much as I love my right hand, it doesn't keep me warm at night," Dennis said. "It doesn't say 'I love you' Elliott."
Elliott made a disgusting face at him and began to set his camera on the tripod.
Dennis looked at all the models, shaking his head. "All those chips and no dipping sauce."
"What?" Elliott asked, confused.
"I don't know!" Dennis said.
"I thought your dog was helping you meet women," Elliott said.
"Yeah, right. The dog gets all the attention, all the petting. Once we walk around the park for a couple of minutes it's like I don't exist. And somehow I've ended up being the official dog walker of four dog owners and a 78 year old lady. Who, by the way, is still in the throes of her sexual peek!"
Elliott shook his head. "Come on, man. You just have to learn how to talk to women, you know? Turn on the charm."
"You're talking to a guy who wrote 59 sonnets in college. All in Middle English," Finch said proudly.
"What?" Elliott asked.
Dennis looked around, realizing that wasn't something to be proud of. "What? Dude, I was joking."
Elliott looked at him suspiciously, and then shook his head to let it go. "Don't worry, buddy. I got you covered," he said and walked to a model with Finch in tow. "Hey, Katriana. This is my friend Dennis Finch."
"How's is going?" Finch said smoothly.
The model looked him up and down and then turned to Elliott. "Where's the rest of him?"
Finch laughed. "I get that question a lot, but you know what they say, if it's not in the length, it's in the girth."
The model scoffed and walked away.
"Yes, you know you want me, baby!" Finch said as she left the studio.
"See, that's your problem, Finch. You don't know how to talk to women," Elliott said.
"Come on, she'll think about that later and come crawling back," Finch said.
"No she won't," Elliott said.
"Yes she will."
"You ruined her day," Elliott said.
"Exactly, now I'll be on her mind for at least a week. It's like a subliminal message. All day 'you know you want me, baby' will be playing in her head until one day she'll find herself in my bed and not knowing how she got there."
Elliott shook his head. "You're sick."
"Yeah, sick like a fox," Finch laughed. A model walked past him and he looked over her body. "Oh, speaking of petting," he winked at Elliott and left.
Later, everyone sat at an office meeting. Dennis didn't seem to be paying attention, and Nina kept browsing through the latest issue of Parent magazine.
"So Maya will be on leave for a month or so, in the meantime we're all going to have to cooperate to make up for her time off."
"Why don't you just hire a temp?" Dennis asked.
"Do you know someone?" Jack asked.
Dennis thought about it. "Well yeah, she's a young soul, who has spent all of her life saving up to break into the fashion industry."
"Well, great! Tell her to come over for an interview," Jack said.
"I'd call her, but it's $3.99 a minute, so," Dennis said.
"Alright, forget it," Jack said.
"And that's just foreplay."
"I said enough, Dennis," Jack said, then thought about it and whispered to Dennis, "Young soul, huh?"
"Jack," Elliott said.
"Okay, next order of business," Jack continued. "Elliott?
"Yeah, about one of the models-"
"Oh, wait; you didn't get her pregnant too, did you?" Finch joked, and Nina snorted.
"No," Elliott said seriously. "She has the chicken pox."
Jack sighed, "Alright. Nina, do you have anyone on standby?"
Nina, still reading one of the articles, said. "Did you know that you decrease the risks of SIDS if you lay your baby on her stomach?"
"Excuse me?" Jack asked.
"Nina's biological clock has been cleaned off its cobwebs," Finch said.
"I'm just expanding my horizons, experimenting. Like that one time I let the students at the Art School sculpt my naked body."
"One time?" Elliott asked sarcastically.
"And if I recall correctly, there was nothing artistic about the pose," Finch added.
"No offense, Nina, but this may be like that one time when you thought you wanted to be a teacher, and ended up in jail for setting the school on fire," Jack said.
"Or the time you thought you were meant to be a Guru, and ended up in India's ten most wanted list?" Elliott said.
"Or the time you thought you wanted to be married, and… well, we all know how that went," Finch added.
"And I'm sure I've learned from all those experiences. Now it's time to have an heir so I can pass on the Nina Van Horn Legacy," Nina said.
"You know, babies are up all night, you're not gonna be able to get your beauty sleep," Elliott said.
"Oh, that's okay, I have a pull out couch in my office," Nina said, and then looked at Jack, who stared at her seriously. "For… productive meditation, Jack."
"But I thought you hated children," Jack said.
"And what better way to fight fire with fire!" Nina replied.
"I'm going back to work," Elliott said and left.
"I'm sending social services a warning," Finch said.
"Oh, I get it. You don't approve of single parenting," Nina said. "Well I'm gonna prove you all wrong, you'll see! I'm gonna raise the most functional child you'll ever see around these parts."
"Yeah, I'm sure a woman who is banned from 13 countries will do a wonderful job at parenting," Finch muttered.
"Hey, if Holland doesn't want its men to become prey to sexual predators, they shouldn't have legalized marijuana," Nina said.
"Okay, everybody, enough with the fights. Back to work," Jack said and went back into his office.
Elliott approached Finch's desk and put a flyer in front of him.
"What is this?" Finch asked.
"Your solution to solitude," Elliott replied.
Finch read it up and stiffened. "Blind dates?!"
"No, this is different. One night with twenty men and twenty women. You all rotate and have 7 minutes to talk to the person in front of you. By the end of the night it's like you had twenty dates in one night. As opposed to what? One date in seven years?"
"Hey, those strolls with my grandma count for something," Finch replied.
"Maybe in Arkansas, but this is New York. Dating someone in your family is not technically dating," Elliott said. Finch let out an annoyed sigh and Elliott continued, "Come on, man, give it a try. You have nothing to lose."
"How about my integrity?" Finch asked.
"I think you gave that up when your penis got stuck to the chandelier," Elliott replied.
Finch thought about it, and then finally caved in. "Fine, can't be worse than that cross dresser."
"They have a meeting tonight; I'll make a call and sign you up. You're gonna find someone, buddy. I know it," Elliott said.
"Thanks," Finch said sarcastically. "And by the way, chandelier looks farther than it really is."
Later that night.
Finch walked into a room filled with people. He started eyeing some of the women, but a man walked up to him and started pushing him to the door. "I'm sorry, little boy. This is for adults only."
"Hey, I am an adult!" Finch yelled.
"Can I see some ID?"
"Great," Finch mumbled and reached for his ID. "Here."
The man read it and looked at him dubiously. "Yeah, nice try. You can get these at Central Park."
"Fine, don't believe me. But my name is on the list. Dennis Finch," Finch said.
The man scanned a list and looked up. "Oh, I'm sorry, sir."
"Whatever," Finch said.
"Well, why don't you sit down, we're about to start," the man said. Finch did as told and the man got on the microphone. "Welcome everybody! My name is Gene, and I am the president of our organization, and we are all here to help you find that special someone. Whoo hoo! Are you excited?!"
"Alright!" Gene shouted. "So this is how it works. The guys are going to take a seat, and the woman in a chair in front of it. When the whistle goes off, the women are going to start rotating to the left. You all have seven minutes to get to know each other and talk about your interests. When the whistle goes off again, you rotate. Is everybody ready?"
"Awesome!" Gene said excitedly. "On your marks, get set…" the whistle went off.
Finch got ready in his chair. A large, butch woman came over and sat in front of him.
Woman 1: I don't know why the women have to rotate, you know. This is the year 2002. Where's the respect?
Finch made a face. "Ew."
Woman 2: I'm very excited about meeting new people. When the mother ship comes to pick us all up, I don't want to go home alone.
Woman 3: I know a lot of people are close minded about it. But blood is just as nutritious as fruit.
Woman 4: … and nowhere on the Bible does it say that cows make better lovers than men.
Woman 5: I'll cut to the chase. My name is Jillian, I'm 34 years old. I'm the personal assistant of a crazy old millionaire who makes mental patients look like freaking Einsteins. My friends coveted into coming here; right now I'd rather be at home with my cat. Hell, I'd rather have a knife plunged into my neck.
That caught Finch's interest. "You have a cat?"
"Her name is Hera," Jillian said.
"The Queen of the Gods," Finch said.
"You know about Greek mythology?" Jillian asked.
"Know about it? I started the fanlisting," Finch said.
Jillian gasped. "I'm a member of that fanlisting! Oh, you are an incredible web designer."
"Well, you don't spend seven years in front of a computer without learning a few tricks," Finch said proudly.
Jillian laughed. "You are adorable."
Finch smiled. "So how come a woman like you doesn't have a line of guys waiting for her?"
"Oh, I'm divorced," Jillian said.
"Me too," Finch said.
"But it worked out for me. I got half his money and got to use the forceps in a part of his body he probably won't be able to use again," Jillian said.
"Oh, spicy," Finch said. "I like it."
They both laughed. The whistle went off again, but they ignored it.
A large woman with a shy face approached the table. "Excuse me; I believe the whistle just went off."
"Yeah, beat it, fatso," Finch said and continued talking to Jillian. The woman ran off crying.
When Elliott got home, he found Maya sitting on the couch, and surprisingly, Nina was sitting next to her.
"Hey, what's going on?" he asked.
"I'm helping Nina in her quest for motherhood," Maya said.
"Oh, Maya. What have I told you about encouraging her?" Elliott said.
"I'm sitting right here, you know," Nina said.
Elliott took his jacket off and noticed the doll they were holding. "What is that?"
"Isn't it great? It's a Baby Think It Over," Maya explained. "It's just like a real baby; they give it to high school kids for health class."
"The deal is that if I survive this for a week, then I'm ready to be a mother," Nina said.
"That's not fair, Maya, a doll can't dial 911," Elliott said.
"Very funny, Elliott. At least this one has more hair than your stupid bald head," Nina said. She took the baby and inspected it inside its diaper. "Oh, no Maya. I wanted a girl."
"It's not really up to you, Nina. Just like a real pregnancy," Maya said.
"But who am I going to pass on the secrets of fashion to?" Nina asked.
"Well, you still can. But the boy just might go into interior decorating," Elliott said.
"A gay son," Nina thought, thinking it over. "I'll take it."
"Great. So you're gonna have to keep this key attached to your wrist. Whatever you do, don't lose it," Maya explained. "When the baby starts crying, just insert the key on the hole on his back and that'll give the baby whatever it needs."
"Does it poop?" Nina asked.
"It's a robot, Nina," Maya said.
"Good, I just had my carpets frescoed," Nina said.
"Welcome to motherhood, Nina. And remember, the baby drinks milk, not vodka," Elliott said. "M-I-L-K."
"You know, for your information, I used to take care of my baby sister back at the farm," Nina said defensively.
"Isn't she a little slow now?" Maya asked.
"Well how was I supposed to know babies can't fly!" Nina said and stormed off.
Elliott stared at the door and then looked at Maya. "Should I call the police and tell them to look for a woman ripping her clothes off at Central Park?"
Maya looked at the clock. "Well, it'll take her at least ten minutes to get there."
Elliott chuckled and sat next to her. "How was your day?"
"Awful," Maya said. "I hate staying here all day, doing nothing. I wanna go back to work, Elliott."
"Maya, you know what the doctor said," Elliott said.
"Elliott, when pregnant women are bored, the babies grow up to be boring people," Maya said.
Elliott frowned. "Look, maybe your dad will let you write an article or two from here and I can give it to him when I go to work."
Maya gasped and smiled.
"And maybe I can come over for lunch sometimes. How about that?"
"Aw, thank you," Maya said and hugged him. "Are you hungry?"
Elliott broke the hug to look at her. "You cooked?"
"No, but I think the baby's craving some of your lasagna," Maya smiled sweetly, rubbing her stomach.
Elliott shook his head, "Happy to." He walked into the kitchen. "Get used to this now, Maya, because in two months I won't have the energy or the patience to do all this."
"Yes you will," Maya yelled.
Elliott sighed. "Yeah, I probably will."
Three days later, late, late at night, Elliott began to hear strange noises again. He turned to his side to try to go back to sleep, but the noise wouldn't seem to go away.
When he turned to the side and opened his eyes, he discovered Maya kneeling next to the bed, looking at him.
"Maya, what's wrong, are you okay?" he said as he raised his head quickly.
"Yeah," Maya said. "I can't sleep."
He smiled back and raised the covers to allow her to cuddle up to him. He put his arms around her and kissed her head and massaged her small belly slightly.
"Are you having nightmares?" he asked.
"No," Maya said. "We're just lonely."
The first time she said we, he thought she was talking about him and her. But now he knew that when she said "we", she meant her and the baby. He liked it.
She settled her back against his stomach and closed her eyes. Elliott buried his nose in her hair and breathed in her scene for a couple of minutes. After a while, he raised his head to try to look at her face.
He thought maybe she was asleep, but then she replied, "Yeah?"
He looked down at her shoulder and removed a piece of lint that rested there. Then he laid his head back on the pillow and pulled her closer to him. "Nothing."
She looked over her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said and buried his face in her hair. "Just tired."
Maya just nodded and rested her head on the pillow. She heard him repeat he was tired, but she wasn't sure he was talking about work. She felt him tighten his grip on her before she closed her eyes and fell asleep.