The monkey watched us from a large cage on one end of the living room. He watched us with wariness as he nervously nibbled peanuts, defiantly slinging discarded shells onto a worn carpet already layered with more of the same. Two large untrimmed poodles quietly presided over the scene.
The dogs were old and tired. They had probably not been bathed in a very long time judging from the smell that emanated from where they stood eagerly awaiting the coming meal. The dogs looked peaceful and benevolent. They were like the angels of bad dog odor.
I was sitting on a dingy couch that looked as though it had been bought years ago after having been used for more years by someone else. Looking furtively about the room I could see that this seemed to be the general decor of this room and the rest of the house--except there had been no planning involved. It was a chaos of frugality and bad taste.
We were called to the kitchen where we sat at a large wooden table that was cluttered with the odds and ends of everyday life. The dogs dutifully followed us and sat in the center of the kitchen with anticipation. We were served a strange saucy Spaghetti from tarnished cooking pots on a stove splattered with dried remains of meals in the past. The family scurried in the serving of the food as my friend and I sat at the table like visiting kings.
I had agreed to stay here rather than in a motel. I had wanted to see my old friend. I had not known where and how he lived. I was glad the house was small. I was glad that they offered me the camper trailer out in the front yard. They could have offered me the couch--next to the monkey. At least I was going to be out there away from the house. And at least it was free.
A parrot sqawked from a bird cage on the opposite side of the room from the monkey. Plates piled with scary spagetti were set before us, steaming with a sweet spicy smell. My friend dug into his spaghetti with gusto. I ate with cautious bites. The dogs watched us as we ate. And the monkey threw shells on the floor in the living room.