The whole thing started in early June when Mohsen, whose Canadian name was Molson, bought a dog—a white Shih-tzu, only three months old. He had recently moved to a new apartment in downtown Vancouver after the separating from his wife. For ages his daughter Anahita had been asking him for a dog. In spite of the fact that it was not at all a good time to get her the puppy, Molson could not resist buying the Shih-tzu when a friend of his said he wanted to give away the puppies their dog had given birth to. Anahita couldn’t take care of a puppy by herself. Neither could his son, a two-year-old who moved around not much better than the puppy on all fours. Molson had originally hoped that his ex-wife would do the job. But Mina didn’t take to the dog. “Looking after the kids is enough for me,” she said.
“Ma, I look after her. Please,” Anahita implored, pulling at Mina’s hand.
“You take care of your room. That’s enough,” she answered before turning to Molson: “Why don’t you take care of the puppy yourself.”
Molson knew she had already made up her mind and wasn’t going to change it at any price. She would stand by her words, like a man, Molson thought. Her stubbornness was on par with Molson’s. So he risked sarcasm. “It’s for the kids. I no longer need a dog to guard me from you.”
Mina went blank. “Ha ha ha. Very funny.” She pointed to the dog that was now rubbing her nose against their son Arash. Molson brushed her arm out of the way. “I am going now. It’s obvious that you’re stubborn.”
“Look who accuses me of stubbornness. Look yourself in the mirror to see—”
Molson lifted the puppy by the scruff of the neck. “Don’t start it again, please.”
Arash started crying. Anahita was about to start crying as well. Molson hugged her. “I’ll keep the puppy with me and when you come on weekends to see daddy, you’ll play with her. Okay sweetheart?”
So the intention was to keep the dog, but only if worst didn’t come to worst. The next morning, when he was shaving, the manager knocked on the door. The puppy was in the living room and when Molson got to the door, she was already barking behind the door, pawing on it. “Shish.” Molson pulled the dog back “Who is it?”
“The manager.” A muffled voice replied. Molson opened the door and saw the owner of the voice: a short, bulky, white-haired guy in jeans and white golf shirt. He pulled back as the puppy jumped up at him. “Dogs are not allowed in this building, Mr—”
“Molson.” Molson extended his hand, the left side of his face still unshaven. He quickly picked the dog with one hand. “Easy, easy, baby.”
“I’ll take it to my office” Molson told the man, rubbing his other hand against his cheek. “I was preparing to go. I have a dealership on Kingsway. If you ever need a car—”
“I have a car,” the manager said. “So you know you can’t bring the dog back tonight?”
“Yes I know. I am a law-abiding first-class citizen who knows all the rules in this country by heart.” Molson smiled even though the man didn’t.
“I don’t understand what you are talking about, sir,” the manager said grumpily. “But just want to repeat that you are not allowed to keep a dog if you want to continue living in this building. Understood?” He stood still until Molson nodded and repeated a second time that he’d got it, that he understood. The man’s thick salt-and-pepper eyebrows remained in a frown. He had a face like a Russian, Molson thought, tough and unmoving. He even didn’t blink.
Since that night, Molson’s employees’ took turns puppy-sitting the Shih-tzu. They divided the week amongst themselves. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, Kasra, the young Iranian and his buddy, took it home. On Wednesdays and weekends, a Chinese man, Henry, took the puppy to his family. Molson secretly promised him a bonus. At the same time, he made Kasra drive all the way up from North Vancouver to Burnaby to drop the puppy at Henry’s house on Saturday mornings .“Be khatere refaghat,” he said, out of friendship. On the first weekend when Molson’s kids came to visit, he drove out to Henry’s and borrowed the puppy for a few hours. He hoped it would not be raining and that that the kids could spend the whole afternoon playing with the dog in Amble Side Park where he took them. That day, he let his daughter pick a name for her dog. “Malousak,” Anahita shrilled in an excited voice. “My dog is a real cutie, isn’t she, dad?”
Anahita and Arash were ecstatic, but Molson knew he couldn’t maintain this situation for long. He was hopeful that the circumstances would change soon. If he could get custody of his children, he thought, then he would moved to a new building where there was a friendlier manager—not one who looked like a KGB officer, where both dogs and children were allowed. His ex-wife had already found herself a boyfriend. It was just a matter of a few weeks before she let go of the children, Molson assumed.
But things took a very different turn. It was because a new person entered the scene: Liz, the Canadian girl who worked in a beauty saloon across the street. Recently, Molson had taken her home one night, and after that she came every day to take the dog for a walk. Molson was too busy to do the job by himself. Kasra often refused to take the dog with him when he went out for lunch. Henry brought the lunch his wife cooked for him. He was a cheap kind of guy, Molson believed. Liz made Molson’s life easier. She showed up twice, once at noon and another time at five in the afternoon. The dog which usually sat on Molson’s lap while he rubbed the spot on her back above the bottom, where she had recently grown soft brown fur, jumped out of Molson’s hands and ran towards Liz, who then wrapped her arms around the Shih-tzu. The dog showed the same enthusiasm when she saw Molson’s kids.
Then two Fridays later, Molson took Liz to The Sandbar Grill on Granville Island in a new model Infiniti where they had a whale of a time. She was waiting for him at her workplace as he pulled up in front of the beauty saloon and honked. She didn’t recognize him until he opened the window, leaned forward towards the passenger seat, and waved. She immediately ran out and plopped herself on the seat. “Wow, Molson. Wow.”
“What? Have I suddenly turned into Tom Cruise or Brat Pitt?” He chuckled and leaned forward to kiss her on the cheek.
“No. This car. It’s like…It’s so gorgeous,” she exclaimed, eyes wide.
“Oh, so it’s not about me. I am disappointed.”
“Yes, it is too. You are like…very handsome, of course. But this car! What’s it?”
“It’s an Infiniti,” Molson said. The car was new at the time.
“I love it. Infiniti. Fantastic.”
“You have barely seen it. Let me show you what it can do.”
Molson turned on a switch for GPS machine by a small screen. “There is a lady hiding here. You’ll see. She is our magical guide.”
The screen on the right side of the wheel turned on. “We want to go to Granville Island, lady. Can you help us with that?” Molson said loudly and gave the machine their destination. Suddenly a mechanical female’s voice came alive. “You’re on Broadway now. Continue straight for five hundred meters until you reach Granville. At the intersection, please turn right.”
Liz leaned forward towards the monitor with a grin.
“I told you. It was magic. Now we confuse her. You’ll see how.” Molson’
At Granville, Molson turned left instead of right.
“Wrong action. You just turned left at the instruction instead of right.” The voice immediately picked up his mistake. “Now please turn left at the first instruction.”
“See how smart she is,” Molson said.” So let’s get her screwed up.”
“Yes. Go for it,” Liz shrilled enthusiastically.
It took them an hour before they got to The Sandbar. They cruised around the streets, going in all opposite directions from those the mechanical voice had instructed. Liz’s face turned pink with excitement. She cheered all the time. “Now go straight, Molson. Screw her up totally.”
She giggled and screamed: “This is fun”.
Then in the end, Liz confessed that she wished she could, just like this, confuse her dad when he became as commanding as the GPS machine. “He is getting old, you know,” Liz said and sighed. “He is very lonely. Stays at home all the time and becoming grumpier and grumpier every day. I can’t live with him anymore. It is like…like hell. I wish he had a company, even it was like…like a dog.”
Molson listened to her sad voice when she told the story and told himself that, even at his old age, he would maintain the same close and loving relationship with his Anahita and Arash as he had now.
They got to the restaurant at eight. They laughed and giggled their way up the stairs.
“I am so hungry I could eat a horse!” he said.
“Me too,” she said. But in spite of her hunger, like a good girl, she went directly to the washroom to freshen up first. When she came back, her lipstick was shinier and her blond hair was neatly in a bun. Some ringlets though fell lose on her high-boned cheeks—very sexy. Liz extended her hands and took his after she sat herself on the other side of the table. “Thanks Molson for this,” she said.
The Canadian girls loved the generosity of Persian men, Molson thought. It was so easy with them, man, if they didn’t have to pull their wallet out of their purse. Unlike snobbish Persian women, one of who was Mina his ex-wife, they were grateful and would do anything for you. It was as easy to cheer them up and satisfy them as it was with his kids. With simple things, things like toys or a burger, they would be thankful. Liz had said “thank you” several times for the silly fun with Molson in the car. She had told him that she felt like those times her dad took her for a ride in his Buick—when she was a small girl and her dad was young and kind.
Molson was sure the girl would be great in bed that night. Surly she would let him do whatever he wanted. So he didn’t even let her open her dainty purse, he got the tab for eighty dollars dinner, and kept paying for the whole evening without even “Kham be abroo biyare”—frowning. Just like a good Man.
Liz was slim, but not an anorexic vegetarian type. “I’ll have the steak,” she had said when Molson told her that it was one of the Sandbar’s specialties. She waited to see what he was going to order for drink and said she wanted the same: a martini with lots of olives. It took less than three to make them burn up the dance floor with their moves and laughter. They shone among the other couples, most of whom were well into their fifties and who looked at them with envy. That was the main reason Molson had chosen The Sandbar as the place to take a date. They were the youngest couple on the floor—and the loudest. She’d gone to the trouble of being well made-up, the way Molson liked, and wore a sexy black top which was open around her cleavage, showing a generous portion of her best asset—her “nice to touch” breasts. He had on his black shirt (Armani, two-hundred dollars) on and wore a thick glimmering golden chain around his neck. He made sure he opened the two top buttons to show the necklace off.
After a few rock-and-roll numbers, they played some jazz. It was time to hold one another and dance cheek to cheek. Molson surprised himself. He felt as if it were the first time he had ever held a woman. He felt so young, like the times he had a full head of brown natural hair—his own—not the dyed, planted one he was wearing now.
Then in moment of high ecstasy when he slipped Liz’s shirt up with the tip of his finger, she ruined everything. It was as if the devil had suddenly crawled under her skin. Instead of bowing her head on his shoulder and getting romantic, she started yapping about his dog. Couldn’t she tell it wasn’t the time for that? It was time to make him tuck his hand into the back of her tight trousers and vigorously rub her back above her bottom.
“I know someone,” she said in a giggly voice, “it’s like…you know…he can solve your problem, he likes to take care of puppies. What was your dog’s name. It’s like…Sorry, after a few drinks I forgot the name.”
“Malousak,” he answered back. “My dog’s name is Malousak. Do you know how many times I have already told you this? In Farsi, it means cutie. Malousak, just like you.” He ran the back of his hand under Liz’s chin a few times.
“Maloosk, I’ll promise not to forget again.”
“Next time you’ll come to walk my dog, if you don’t remember her name, I won’t let you take her. Understood?” Molson said in a serious voice.
Liz nodded. Then she put her head on his shoulder only to whisper in his ear, “So what do you think? The guy can take care of Maloosk. He can solve your problem.”
“I don’t have any problems, honey.” Molson said assertively. That was it, he thought, she ruined his mood. Molson pulled himself back from her, even though the romantic jazz beat was still going on. “What about getting two Baileys?” Molson said, “You need something sweet. A Bailey can solve your bitter tongue.”
“What do you mean ‘my bitter tongue’? Is that some Iranian expression?”
Instead of answering her, he grabbed her hand and dragged her off the dance floor. “Two Baileys” Molson told the bartender and pulled out a stool for the girl. “Sit down.”
She obeyed him and even let him kiss her. After they finished the Baileys, Liz wanted to go back out on the dance floor. “I never danced like…like among such old crowd,” she said, “it’s like…fun.”
“No, honey,” Molson said, “let’s go home. I want to drink you up. That Bailey was not enough for me. I am still low on sugar.”
Molson took her straight home after they’d finished their drinks. No more horsing around with the Infiniti or driving up and down the streets as Liz wanted.
“You know we have this expression in Farsi that everything you want to do has its proper time,” Molson said. “You don’t seem to know the proper time for things, do you?”
“Oh come on,” the girl said. “It’s like you’ve become my dad. You’re scolding me, giving me lessons.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I just want to get home and have you, honey. We’ll take the Infiniti out the whole night next time.”
Liz remained silent. “And could you please not to talk about your dad all the time? It is getting eerie,” Molson said the last word.
Molson closed the door to his kids’ rooms as they passed along the corridor. He switched on the TV in the bedroom and set it to the Playboy Channel and disappeared into the walk-in closet to change. He shut the door behind him and switched on the lights only to find himself surrounded by his collection of clothes and shoes, neatly organized in the shelves and the wardrobes. His suits, in plastic covers, hung on the right side, his trousers on a rack on the left. His shirts, ironed and covered, hung across from the door. He opened a full cabinet of shoes, changed into his slippers, and placed his shoes in the cabinet. Then he put his Rolex in a box. The thing with Canadian girls was that they were great when it came to sex but it was hard to trust them. They could always surprise you, Molson thought, you’d wake up in the morning only to find out they were gone with your three-thousand-dollar watch.
Liz proved his theory to be true three days later. But she was sweet and perfect that night. When he stepped out of the closet and shut the door behind him, she was fully absorbed watching two guys fucking a girl on the screen. But as soon as she heard him, she started sucking her forefinger. He jumped headlong onto her in bed. She was already half naked, only wearing the red gaudy bra and panties he’d bought for her the week before.
Liz did everything right that night, the way Molson liked. She followed him to the washroom after sex and washed herself. He gave her a fresh towel robe to put on. She brushed her teeth, and flossed, then popped in the gum she remembered to carry in her bag. Molson found her chewing it when he stepped into the room for a second round. Her mouth was so fresh and smelling good like her pussy. This compensated for hair she was missing on her back above her bottom. All the Iranian girls Molson had slept with had hair there.
They didn’t sleep much. Molson had already told Liz that she would have to leave his apartment early the next morning. He explained that he had his kids over on the weekends. Their mother wanted her weekends free. Lousy woman, Molson thought. She’d gotten herself a boyfriend very fast. It wasn’t even four months since they had separated.
First thing Monday morning, Liz came to the office to take “Maloosk” for a walk. “Ma-lou-sak.” Molson corrected her pronunciation and made her repeat it several times until she got it right.
“Molson,” she said, “you remember the other night I told you about this guy who likes dogs and is willing to look after Malousak.”
“Yes, yes, that’s fine. I have a customer coming in a minute to test drive the Infiniti.”
“Oh, no. Please don’t sell it. It’s like…like a real cutie, real Malousak! And besides you’ve promised me to take me for another ride.”
“Okay, sweet heart. Since you’ve been a good girl and can almost say my name and the puppy’s name right, I’ll stand by my word and sell the customer something else.”
Liz did not come back that day to return the dog. It was Henry’s night to take Malousak and he watched and waited, checking his watch. Molson got him to move the new Mercedes inside and the Lexus out to the parking. It would take him a good half an hour. Henry would have to move several cars before he could do what Molson had asked. Molson called Liz’s cell phone a few times but the answering machine picked up. Finally he ran across the street to check the beauty shop. He thought that she might be with a customer. He looked through the glass door. The other hairdresser was there but she wasn’t. He opened the door hoping the fluff-ball of a dog would happily bark and jump at him. But the only fluffy thing he registered was a wrinkled bony woman, similar to the detective Mrs. Marple he’d seen on the Iranian TV networks. Her reflection stared back at him from the mirror—all raised eyebrows. The other girl stopped working on the heap of the woman’s frizzy grey hair, now jumbled up like a bird’s nest, and turned towards him. She told him that his girl came in the morning and then took the day off.
“She’s not my girl, ma’am,” Molson snapped. He stepped in and walked up to the back of the shop, checking things on the way—the chairs, the sofa, and the coffee table with several gossip magazines spread out on it. Then he checked the back of the shop, the washroom, and the small staff room. The hairdresser followed Molson in a hurry. “Hello Mr. Molson. Excuse me. What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Just checking, madam.” He turned around and passed the girl and then the tiny old woman with big fizzled hair, who had turned the swivel chair towards him and was eyeing him suspiciously. Molson ignored her look and continued to the door.
“She’s not coming back today.” the girl shouted after him.
“Tell her to return my dog as soon as possible,” Molson shouted back and gave the door such a bang that it shook in its frame. He walked back to his office to relieve Henry, who was now impatiently pacing up and down among the cars.
“Malousak has found a new place for tonight,” he said. “Go home and enjoy the evening, man.”
The worst thing was that the next day was July 1st, Canada day—a holiday—and Molson had promised to have his kids with him. Molson couldn’t sleep well that night. It was even worse than his first night of separation from his wife. How irresponsible, he thought. The bitch could have at least called to let him know she was taking Malousak home for the night. As ridicules as it could be, was the fact that he knew the girl’s bra size (36 B) but not her home phone number. Her cell phone answering service picked up after six continuous rings at four a.m. “Hi, there,” Molson almost shouted, “I am calling to refresh your memory. Remember to return Malousak tomorrow early in the morning. Bring her to my home. I’ll be with my kids tomorrow and they’ll expect to see Malousak.”
When Liz didn’t return his call until eight o’clock, Molson called Mina his ex-wife to cancel having his children for the day.
“It is impossible. I already have a date,” Mina said angrily on the phone.
“A date on Canada Day?”
“And what’s your reason for refusing to looking after your children today?”
“I have a business deal I have to take care of. It is something Kasra or Henry cannot do.”
“A deal on Canada day? You’re lying.” Mina sneered. “Come and get your kids at ten. They are already excited to see Malousak. And I have to be in West Vancouver by ten thirty.” She hung up before Molson could say a word more.
Anahita and Arash were all dressed up and ready when he arrived at ten. Anahita had on her new jeans and pink T-shirt he’d bought her recently and wore a matching headband. Arash, in Mina’s arms, was clad in navy blue shorts, T-shirts, and a baseball cap that covered still thin his hair. Anahita screamed with excitement when Molson entered, “Arash, Daddy’s here.”
Even before greeting Molson, she held up a bag and said: “Dad, see what I bought for Malousak. Dog’s toys.”
It was at this moment that she noticed the puppy was missing. She immediately dropped her hand. “Where is Malousak?”
Molson stood there clearing his throat and not knowing what to answer. “She is sick. I took her to the animal hospital,” he finally mumbled.
“What?” Anahita sat on the floor, with tears already welling up to her eyes. “Is she dying?”
“No. It is nothing important. She’ll be back home by Monday at latest.” Molson leaned forward to get his daughter to stand up, but Mina was quicker. She squat by Anahita and wrapped her arm around her. She was holding Arash in her other arm.
“What did you do with the poor thing, Molson?” Mina asked with a snarling voice.
“I didn’t do anything. It is Henry the Chinese guy who gave Malousak some wrong food. You know these Chinese, they—”
“Don’t lie,” Mina interrupted him. She had done her hair and was wearing a dainty purple summer dress with large white flowers and open back.
“I am not lying. Don’t you ever call me this again. It’s the second time today you’re accusing me of lying,” Molson raised his voice. And this was enough to send both his kids to crying.
“You can’t even take care of a puppy and you want to get the custody of the kids!” Mina snapped. “See how you ruined their Canada Day.” Her was full of spite.
Molson didn’t answer. Instead leaned forward and stroke Anahita’s hair. “What a beautiful headband you’re wearing, my princess. Daddy promises to bring you Malousak this coming weekend. You’ll see. Now let’s go to Canada Place. And I’ll take you to the PNE Amusement Park later if you want.”
“Do you?” Anahita got on her feet reluctantly.
Molson nodded. Then he turned to Mina and extended his arm towards Arash, “let’s go, son. Your mummy has a date. On Canada day!” Molson screwed up his face.
Arash turned his head away from him and grabbed to Mina’s shoulder and screamed. Since three months ago when Molson had started getting hair implant, Arash had become unfriendly to him.
“I got to go,” Mina suddenly said, looking at the clock. She took at Arash’s hand, separated it from the strap of her dress, lifted him up, and thrust him into Molson’s arms.
The day was a total disaster. Arash was really grumpy. He had a bit of cold and nagged all the time. Then in the end of the day, he fell down onto the muddy ground somewhere in the PNE and made himself completely dirty. Anahita kept insisting that Molson should take her to the animal hospital to see Malousak.
“They don’t let us in on Canada Day,” Molson said.
“Please, dad. I know they do,” she pulled at his sleeve in the car.
“Are you saying that I am lying? Don’t you learn from your mum, Anahita.”
In his mind, Molson slurred Liz. He decided to dump her as soon as she returned Malousak. He was hopeful that Liz would bring back his dog on Wednesday morning >>> Part 2
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