Lucas is an enigma.
A twenty-something business student in Indianapolis, Lucas grew up with my oldest son in Latin America. Yet he is here. I mean right here. In-the-house here.
By some generous act of Providence, the apartment Lucas shares with two colleges students and an undisclosed but not absurd number of acts, suffers an infestation of flees. I have never before been grateful for fleas, but I am so now.
Lucas has, over the years, hung out in somewhat irregular fashion in our house. When I use to hang out in this generic sense, I do not mean anything as defined as to spend the occasional evening, to come by to watch the Super Bowl, or to join us for dinner. Those connotations do attach themselves to the concept of to hang out. But they do not define Lucas.
In fact, Lucas is one of those young men who inherently defies definition and its encumbering bureaucratic intentions.
Lucas is just here much of the time. Eating, bathing, answering his emails, watching Seinfeld, sleeping, coming and going.
On the reddish-brown leather couch that stands in for stadium seating in the Red Room in which the Mitsubishi wide-screen television with which Amazon graced my home for the mere price of reviewing the thing, Sammy and Lucas are often to be found in exquisite repose. Sammy, my blind Rhodesian Ridgeback, adores Lucas.
Lucas takes Sammy for walks in the odiferous park with all the fun things upon which to pee. Lucas feeds Sammy. Sammy adores. It is a kind of unbreakable covenant, a binding together of two lives, a domestic rhythm of the most pleasant kind.
Sammy, you see, is not merely blind. After surgery, he is quite eye-less. Lucas never mentions it. Sammy appreciates this. Reciprocity has seldom known a neater set of circumstances.
Lucas answers his phone sporadically. Lucas’ consultation of his email inbox is sporadic.
Yet this one thing is true: Lucas texts. If you want to contact Lucas, you send him a text. Lucas replies. Case closed.
I mention this detail because this old house is just big enough, just vulnerable enough, and just enough full of Rhodesian Ridgebacks to become a vulnerable and even volatile place if it becomes momentarily bereft of humans.
I travel. Lucas does not. Thus, both vulnerability and volatility are kept in their corner, marginally de-clawed.
‘Lucas, I’ll be in Delhi. Can you watch the dogs?’, might come across the wire.
‘Got it covered’ comes the message to the iPhone of the frazzled traveler in the boarding lounge at O’Hare.
The world, momentarily, rests secure.
Lucas is not only a competent house-watcher and canine-preferred dog keeper. He is also a fine wit.
Lucas and irony are synonyms. Where justice and mercy kiss, Lucas and irony virtually make out.
A student of film and television, Lucas explains to this Old Guy that television breaks down neatly into ‘Before Seinfeld’ and ‘After Seinfeld’. Lucas comments on the geometrical magic of the World Cup semi-finals as though he invented the game. Lucas knows everything.
Lucas, as I tell him how life has changed now that I’ve learned what a hosta is, listens politely and awaits his opportunity to insert a subtle, knowing, ironic comment upon Old Men who do gardens.
Lucas makes this old house better, safe, humane, and canine-friendly.
The world, at this moment, is a bit too full of lethal, unpredictable things.
Lucas is safe, here, and dog-worthy. In this old house.