“That’s amazing. A guinea pig was indirectly responsible for pushing you out of the closet…” murmured Mikey, feet sliding down the marble floor.
“Not just any guinea pig, either.”
They walked to the crudely overturned metal wire trash can that served as a makeshift cage. It was in the middle of the living room, positioned just short of the middle like a bizarre zoo exhibit. Inside the red-furred demon was scuttling around in circles, stopping only to angrily gnaw at the wire.
“He has a guinea pig?”
“What else does it look like?” Zach crouched down and pulled a piece of lettuce out of his lunchbag, sliding it between the bars. Geranimo watched it fall with apathetic detachment.
“I sense them, I’d know one was hiding a mile away. I hate guinea pigs. They’re so erratic, stupid and nervous. But as long as it’s trapped here, I can deal with it.”
“I used to have a rabbit…” Mikey stretched his finger out, yet pulled it away before two sets of teeth could crunch down on it.
“This is one poorly socialized guinea pig. They’re not supposed to do that.” Said Mikey, and Zach could only shrug.
“It’s Gentry’s, what did you expect?”
“At the shelter I worked, these kinds would be put down.”
“Feh. I wish you could do that with people.”
Zach rose back onto his feet.
“If I give it back, he’ll just let it go again.”
“That’s animal abuse.” Said Mikey, “Guinea pigs aren’t meant to be wild.”
“You’re not keeping it, are you?”
“I can’t give it to a shelter or it will be put down.”
Mikey stalled for a moment, then raised his eyebrows and exhaled.
“Hm. That sucks. I thought he loved animals. I heard he was a vegetarian.”
“You can’t like animals if you don’t even like yourself.”
“He should be reported for letting his animal run wild.”
“What good would that do? I mean, you’re right. It’s wrong. But… I don’t know; things are complicated.”
“What do you mean?”
Up the stairs, in the heavy oak dresser pushed to the wall, down in the bottom drawer under the old sweaters he no longer wore there was a picture that would explain everything. A picture he’d stowed away for safekeeping, unable to keep his treacherous thoughts from returning to it. It was a dangerous picture, a picture that blurred what were once clear lines or right and wrong, black and white.
But Zach was never one to shy away from the truth, no matter how confusing it was.
That was how, last night, he had figured it out.
“I don’t think he looks at it like an animal, or even as a pet.”
“What are you saying?”
It’s a part of him. And no matter how many times he releases it, it keeps coming back.
But this was not something to be shared.