by Anne Sullivan
“It’s snowing,” Sylvia observed with a grimace as she came into the house for breakfast.
“So it is,” I said without a trace of joy and wonder.
“It’s cold, too,” Sylvia said as she waddled over to her bowl of Iams.
“It is indeed,” I agreed, listening to the furnace churning away happily as it consumed a gargantuan Thanksgiving dinner of propane.
“What happened to summer?” Sylvia asked between crunches of kibble.
“It left, but after such a lovely fall we really can’t complain.”
“I can,” she said.
“What are your plans for your book?” I asked her to forestall any further griping while I started washing three days’ accumulation of dishes.
“A final rewrite,” she answered licking her bowl. “And then I’ll send it out to publishers. Max says it’s ready.”
“I’m delighted to hear that. Now, maybe I can meet your mysterious friend, Max.”
“He’s more than a friend,” she said, having thoroughly finished her kibble. “He’s my mentor.”
“Whatever he is, I’d like to meet him. He always manages to come when I’m not around.”
“You should stay home more. Can I have a biscuit, please?”
Sylvia fixed me with a glassy glare. “May I…whatever…”
“Will you tell Max to stay until I get back from the Post Office today? Ask him if he’d like to have tea.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why can’t you?”
“Max doesn’t eat or drink.”
“How economical. Well, then, just tell him I’d like to meet him.”
“Max doesn’t meet people.”
“He met you, didn’t he?”
“Yes. He came because he knew I needed help writing my book. He used to be an editor, you see.”
“Used to be? What is he now?”
“Dead? What do you mean dead?”
“Dead as a doornail. Dead. I knew you wouldn’t understand. He’s no longer of this world. He told me that the last time he was here but I had suspected he was different. He kept fading in and out. Sometimes I could see him and sometimes not. But it didn’t really matter. I don’t know how he happened to find me but I certainly needed help and he gave it to me.”
Although stunned and trying not to show it, I managed to say, “He certainly did help you. Did he ever tell you his whole name?”
“The last time I saw him – just the other day – I asked him and he said it used to be Perkins. Maxwell Perkins.”
“Of course, Maxwell Perkins, I should have known. He was a very famous editor. He worked for Scribner’s in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties.”
“He said goodbye to me the other day,” Sylvia said, nuzzling up to me. “He told me I needed to rewrite one more time and then send the book away to get published. Now I’m on my own.”
“So you are.” I reached out a wet hand to pet her. “And the best of good luck to you.”
“Thank you. Do you think I’d have some luck getting a biscuit from you?”
“Certainly,” I said, handing her a large Mighty Bone.