Custody Battle

Janine wanted full custody of Reggie, but that was absolutely out of the question. I had bought Reggie. I didn’t have the receipt to prove it, because I never asked for one, because I wanted him to feel like a forever-friend, like a member of the family, and not something bought at a store, like a can of baked beans or a tape measure. So when the store didn’t offer me a receipt for Reggie, I didn’t ask. I’d also paid for most of Reggie’s food, although I wasn’t exactly keeping tabs, because food is a basic right and I didn’t want it to feel like I had control over Reggie’s life, you know? I mean, in a way, I did. I absolutely did. I could kill Reggie — not that I would — but as long as I paid a vet to do it, and it was humane, I wouldn’t get into trouble. It’d be perfectly legal. But again, I’d never do that, of course. I love Reggie. Reggie is my best friend. Reggie never judged me, never gave me the stink eye — except that one time when I tripped over him after one too many drinks and he ran under the sofa and looked at me funny for the rest of the night. Reggie deserved all the friendship accolades, whatever those are. So no, I’d never kill Reggie, not unless I absolutely had to, but what are the chances of that, right?

Anyway, if Reggie could speak English, he’d say, without doubt, that I was his human. And if we were going to go off how much money I’d spent on Reggie, I had definitely outspent Janine by something like infinity. But Janine had taken him to the vet one time and when she was paying the bill she put down her name as Reggie’s guardian, and now she had that piece of paper from the vet, and her lawyer was arguing that she had grounds for full custody (the bone I have to pick here is that I was there, too, but I had gone to the loo when all this was happening, and who was I to pick a bone then? I’m not petty or anything). My lawyer said we should negotiate, but I said no, we were wrestling this one right out of her spiteful hands. Reggie was 100% mine. My lawyer said we’d have a better shot at joint custody — maybe me on weekends, her the rest of the time — and I was like, “Are you out of your fucking mind?” And my lawyer was expressionless, and I said, “It’s all of nothing, baby!” And he sighed. In court, I asked to testify, and the judge said, “About what?” And I said, “Against her!” and my lawyer looked horrified and was like, “No, no, actually, Your Honor,” and I said, “She’s not a fit parent for Reggie!” And Janine rolled her eyes at me, and I may have called her a name that made my lawyer throw his hands in the air, and the judge hit his wooden mallet thing and told me in legal terms that I needed to sit down and shut the fuck up or I’d be thrown out. Janine’s lawyer snickered, and I dropped my shoulders and pled to Janine, “Jan-Jan,” and her eyes darted away, and I could see that they were red. Then my lawyer loosened his tie and pat me on the back, as if to say: “OK buddy, we’re done here.”

First published May 11, 2017