I kept trying to avoid Bull Mayday after that first encounter, but he wouldn't let me. Why he was so eager to get to know me, I don't know. Thinking back, it was probably because I was the first person he'd ever met that refused his money.
At first I just walked along the other side of the street. That's Cahl Street, where Bull had taken up residence at his mother's apartment. It was also where my bus stopped. Either I got off a few buildings down from where Bull invariably parked his big green car, or I waited ten more blocks and had a twenty-five minute walk home. So I kept my head down and walked as fast as I could, but, like I said, it was no good. Bull would catch me every time. "Daat!" he'd call. "Daateee!" If I ever ignored him, someone would invariably do me the unwanted favor of pointing my attention his way. The man proved positively unavoidable.
So I start biting the bullet and just assuming I was going to stop to chat with the permanently sweaty bear of a man. Sometimes Bull would just ask how my day was, other times he'd have me help him around the apartment or in the garden. I never did see his mother; her door was always well closed. A part of me would always wonder if there was anyone in that room at all.
Bull would always pay me real well for helping him, though I always refused it. It got to where he'd just give me a hundred goldquartz or so at the beginning of the week. I think he didn't like the offering and refusing any more than I, so he just cut down the time he had to do it. My work at Dog Lovers Magazine was suddenly halved that fall, what with the publication shortening its run to six issues a year. With the chill in the air and little to be done around my own apartment, helping Bull wasn't so bad. This was.. let's see... six years ago now? Seven? Must be seven. With all my extra time, I was able to help Bull install a new tub in his bathroom, one that would be more accessible for his mother. If he was lying about her being there, he was going to great lengths to conceal it. I wouldn't say the two of us were friends, really, but we came to know and anticipate and understand each other as well as any other friend I've ever had. There was a distance, surely, but I liked it that way. Bull gave me something to do, and extra money. Where he got it all from, his money, I had no idea. He was always dressed well, and he ate ever better.
I'd help him take in deliveries every weekend, of enough food to feed an army. And this was every week, he'd need my help again every week with just as much food. Now, he was large, but not that large. Unless his sick mother could really put down the pork and broccoli, certainly there was something else going on.
Still, I was surprised when I found out the truth. Bull had taken a call on the patio; I was in the kitchen enjoying some glint. He then rushed in through the airy white curtains and pulled his coat off the back of a chair.
"I've got to go," he said abruptly, throwing his jacket on and the making for the door.
"Should I leave?" I asked, feeling like I should.
"Nah. I'll be right back," he said. "You've gotta help me with the delivery." And then he was gone.
I considered at first going into the mysterious bedroom, to see what exactly was in there. I had still never heard a peep from his 'mother'. Sometimes I'd be over his apartment for ten hours at a time, and still I never saw him go in the room to feed her or help her go to the bathroom, or anything. But then a knock came at the door. I didn't know if I should answer it, but I figured, what could it hurt. I was living life a little more loosely lately, being bolder.
"Who's that?" I asked the door, imitating Bull's bark.
"Groceries," the voice on the other side said.
I checked the clock on the living room wall. The grocer was an hour early.
"You're early," I said.
"I know. Issue with Napo," the grocer said.
I assumed that was some sort of code, and so got up to open the door.
"Where's Bull?" the delivery man asked suspiciously.
"He had to go out. Probably something to do with Napo," I said. Yes, I actually said that.
"Figures," the driver said. "Well, come on. Looks like you're helping me," he said, and then hoisted the first of many, many boxes of groceries into my arms.
Half an hour later and still no sign of Bull. I'm sitting in his kitchen, surrounded by wooden crates full of vegetables, meats, and cheeses. I was wondering, should I put it away? Should I leave? Bull was supposed to pay me that day, and I really needed the money, so I didn't want to leave just yet. Marv had to go to the vet the week before. He swallowed my toothbrush.
In any case, I was hungry. What would Bull miss if I ate some of his stockpile, I asked myself. A tasty-looking block of cheese was right across the table from me, so I grabbed it and bit in. It was a soft cheese, a smoky one. I've never known too much about cheese, other than that some are good and some aren't. This was a good one. I went to take another bite, but my teeth hit something hard. When I pulled the cheese away, something fell out onto the table. It was a gemstone! An oily, cheese-covered blue marten! I know my gemstones, don't ask me why. I dug deeper into the cheese, and uncovered brits and martens like I was going through a jewelry store. So I thought, okay, let's see what else we've got here. I broke a cured meat log open: it was full of goldquartz. It looked like old Bull's snacks were just a bit too rich for my tastes. Good thing I hadn't choked to death. And then I heard the door handle jangle and in barged the man himself.
"Well," Bull said with a laugh when he saw my hands full of jewel loaf, "it looks like you've got quite the appetite, doesn't it?"
UP NEXT: THE RELUCTANT EDITOR or BULL IN A CHINA SHOP