my house was not a home. not yet. it was an apartment. it was being rearranged, transfigured, suited to Trinity's long stride and swinging tail and ferocious bite. i could never scold an animal, those huge teeth are put there by god for a reason, they need to protect themselves from horrible humans. monk knows what he endured from his previous owner that he ended up in the shelter. for the first couple of days we were both on edge, sniffing each other out, unsure of the future. but this was a brave new uncertainty. i was dealing with a real animal this time, a wild tiger, albeit a baby, a large baby, not your usual kittens in mittens. i was delightfully distracted. not my baselevel dour. i was fucking happy.
i would add those complicated mazes of carpeted tubes on tops of my ceilings you see on tv if i could. if i had the money. the idea just came to me when i woke one morn to find my couch completely shredded apart. poofs of the couch's insides everywhere, outside. wheat meat. i also decided right then and there to set up a schedule for trimming his claws. every month. or every three months or something, whenever. i knew i had to cut his razorsharp nails but how the hell was that gonna happen? we weren't buddy-buddy like that that i could just stroll up to my fur bro with a shiny metal instrument.
it's a shock to the system when your body wakes you up violently at 6AM whether you like it or not. you want nothing more than to remain in the repose of unconscious slumber forever but a switch in your brain reboots your eyes and shakes your senses and suddenly you're tasting the drool puddle on your pillow. god's infinite wisdom. that's the shock. turning your head and getting blasted with the unmistakable foul stench of cat poo hitting your nostrils isn't the shock. well tiny one, each cat's poo has its own distinctive scent. like perfume. i hadn't cleaned a litter box in so long the muscles i normally use to spread the scoop were atrophied from disuse. it was 24 hours or so since Kiss had died after all. the litterbox was in for a shock, it wasn't used to a different kind of poo invading its pristine sand. i tell ya, it felt so good to roll out a clear plastic bag from Costco again, rip it on the perforation, and whoosh it up and down to open it. that's my kind of dotted line.
and whoosh it
not opening. needs moisture. just add water. need to damp the beds of your forefinger and thumb and gently rustle the bag till the line becomes a circle. with that i violently open the bag and whoosh it up and down in the center of my kitchen! and i feel a whoosh race by me. the cat is scared and runs for cover in a corner, the first one he can squeeze into. more importantly, the cat is here!
me: Trinity! you were hiding behind the bin. you were gone for a long time. oh, this? it's just a bag. you want clean poop don't ya? well i gotta do this. every time. each morning. i do it in the morning cos i'd forget later on. i'm too busy with whatever it is i do all day. i don't eat till you eat, see? i feed you and drink you and change your litter first, then i eat breakfast, that way i earn my eat. gotta pay my way somehow.
i never did learn to see the bag thing from the cat's perspective. i did the same exact thing every morning, scared to forget, following the pattern, the same routine every morning. it was hardwired into my brain. when you have no one else around to change your programming...human else anyway. eh, human folly.
it was quite the guessing game those first few days. but i was happy. i had all the time in the world. it was just me and my bed. i slept in. i had no appointments cos i didn't make any. why audition today when i could get rejected tomorrow. i turned my head to the wall when i slept, didn't want to get my eyes scratched out, just in case my shaky son decided to jump me again in the middle of the night whilst i'm dreaming vulnerably. family, amirite? nah, he doesn't sleep with me, not that i can ever feel, he sleeps in the corner or somewhere poor thing. i bought a fluffy cat bed he never uses. gotta change my thinking, shoulda went for the refined adult cat bed with the streamlined corinthian faux leather, not the one with the Garfield stickers. it's too dark to see.
i woke up. damn. stay woke. but i awoke with a pain in my tooth. no, not again. i will not go back to the dentist no matter what my sister says. no matter how fine the assistants are. i don't have the money, that's a damn fine excuse. i don't have the time, gotta care for my pet always. it wasn't the root this time, it was the gum. i landed an Olive Garden crouton at just the wrong angle, split my tooth awkwardly. a few Vanquish should quell it without a refinancing. with plenty of water, that's the most important thing. i really need to set aside time to eat. they really should make those croutons smaller.
Trinity is smiling at me! no, he's yawning. i see his saber-tooth teeth really for the first time glistening against the pane of my window. golden rays of light give him his first shower. phone knocks. it's my, wait, gotta put you on hold, there's a ring at the door.
me in my slumpy pajamas: yes?
man: top o' the morning to you, fine sir. how'd you sleep? Longleat here, oldest in the globe. we have the longest cats. picked you out of a hat.
me: Seussical? heehee.
the man laughed heartily for five minutes. we both needed to decompress, it was clear neither of us had spoken to a soul for a while. it takes practice like anything else. it's not like riding a bike. i told him Dr. Seuss was my favorite existentialist. well him and Camus. Camus thought boxing was inhumane. Camus was the existentialist with heart. i always thought fighting was inhuman.
the man was wearing khaki shorts. that's just silly, it's not the same when the khakis are shorts. he had on the quintessential safari hat with his sandy brown hair billowing out of it. only thing missing was the collectible spearhead as the flourish in the hatband. and the British accent.
actually, there was more hair coming out of his eyebrows than on top of his head this morning. i didn't look directly at his face of course.
man: no, actually we picked you out of a computer. fellow catlover Mr. _________, i presume? (he got my name wrong.) as a valued member, i am here personally to inform you first of the infestation in these woods. we don't take kindly to strangers round these parts and neither do your felines. look out for the foreigners eating up our valuable wood. the bark beetle likes to hop on pop and ride random cats around the area so they don't tire out, the fiends. soldier crabs cobble themselves together in a frightening display of a circle, scaring the cats who would otherwise scare them off, as they form their homes under the dead tree carcasses. sure the beach is their home but soon it will all be eroded away. you've got to decide in life, gotta take a stand at least once whether you want to or not: humans or animals? anyway keep a nose out when you go outside. do you use the same flea shampoo as your cat? hey i see the scoop to your litter there caked in feces. not good, gotta scrape that off immediately or your whole house will riddle with disease. all sort of airborne toxins everywhere.
me: uh, yes, at the shelter i picked some up. i do need more supplies, though, thanks for reminding me.
member? it seems my sister has been paying dues behind my back.
man: is the man of the house home? remember, you're getting this before the media does.
me: hmmm? oh, he's around. or gone to ground. y'know how it is. watch out, he's liable to scratch your face when you least expect it. unpredictable, that's why we love 'em.
y'know i wouldn't want to see that, it would mean i would be forced to look at the man's face. the door closes ever so gingerly and i see through my window the man doubled over as if in pain but still on two legs. he peers at me and i quickly look away. the man quickly changes out of his hunting gear and dons a nicely-pressed white shirt and black tie. he is looking quite ironed.
man: hello, sir, sorry to bother you so early, but have you ever bothered to witness the incredible power of Jesus Christ? it is only though our very narrow interpretation of his awesome power are you guaranteed salvation. the road is skinny, like our ties, but it's worth it. no, we don't hand out pamphlets anymore, read our online brochure after your porn. just kidding. just trying to relate. what we do give away now are these cute little pith helmets commemorating our recent sojourn into the heart of Dark Africa.
me: i'm good, my brother. you're the same man. from before. i saw you change.
man: oh. you saw? really? you always keep your windows with the blinds down. surprised me. y'know it's a shame what's happened to the neighborhood. this place is so lush in green it's the perfect spot for a park. let the children play i say. but everyone is too enamored with their inside. no community anymore, just a trail of barns and some mansions up in the hills, connected only through city ordnance. everyone is so insular nowadays. all the wires are going into buildings. we need some wires outside to jumprope with. see right there, sign of the times, a Comcast whitetruck parked in the driveway. when's the last time you saw your neighbor on that driveway flipping through the paper in nothing but bunny slippers? it's like we're not human anymore.
the phone was off the hook the whole time! oh my sis is gonna be mad. and madder when she gets the phone bill in a month.
me (on the phone): sorry, babe...
sister (on the phone): some of us work you know. yeah, so there goes my lunch. you of all people should never talk to strangers. that's danger. so what are you gonna do? want to stay with me? i'm never home so it's perfect. it's roomier...
what?! i don't have this apartment after all? the deal didn't go through? hoboy, thank god my sister is the strong one in the family. i would not like to witness the expression on the face of that realtor with lamb all over his mouth. that's chagrin. but wait, does it have a lawn, sis?...
hello? oh, i took too long, no live sister on the other end, it was a recording she made. time flies when you're not working.
i opened the door again to stop the knocking.
man: well good afternoon, my man. how's lunch going? as you can read on the brim of my cap, it's Comcast here for your 12:30. you gotta love that 12:30 appointment, huh? installation should take four hours or so. don't worry, it's all free, complimentary channels for being our #1 valued customer in the tri-state area. Playboy AND History Channel, i'm not sure which one is more addictive!
i gave the man my card of the acting school i attend every now and then with a resounding reco, not looking at his face mind you, that takes a special kind of acting to be able to talk like that. so whatever play he ends up in i will be seeing him for the first time from the back row. it's better that way, type-casting is death. i enjoy the occasional play, i'm always getting free tickets to the shows i'm not cast in.
i hang up the phone. try to, Trinity is sitting on the dial. he stares at me curiously. he gets in his clumsy attack position, like he doesn't really wanna but it's instinct. i lift my finger and he bites it.
Trinity, thinking: amicus, i kiss you. thank you. that was some good water in the chipped china bowl this morning. didn't realize how thirsty i was. i don't drink at night cos the bowl is by your bed. i don't want to disturb you. yes, your finger, i kiss it to make the booboo better. i am happy with the simple things, like your indoor plants that make me sick when i eat the leaves and stuff. that leaf scent is intoxicating despite my better judgment. i see the sun and i'm set. all good. but i see you are a complicated cat. man. i need to get labyrinthine, too, if i am to relate to you, amicus. i'll catch up, don't worry. i've been sleeping on your butt when you become a log for eight hours. eight hours is too long. i should sit on your face and absorb your yottabytes of data. osmosis, that's the reason we all sleep, right? i'll become smarter than you when all is said and done, i'll pull YOU towards ME. i can't have you thinking we are dumb animals, we are intelligent like on tv, anything to perpetuate the myth. reality is cruel. i can't think of anyone else in my life.
me: ouch! love you, boy. i'm not the enemy. my hands are up. who's my smart boy? you immediately ran away when the stranger came to the door. that is beautiful, the world is cruel. you will outlive me with that thinking. i forgot, but i remember now. treats. cat treats. i'll get TWO pouches next time. i promise. chicken AND fish. in fact i'm going to the store right now. no sudden moves. please. i'm talking to myself, no need to provoke. or poke. come on, cat. come on, kitty cat. it's me, babe. please let me through without sharpening me.
i fake-jump to counter any plans to jump Trinity has. or would have had. it's a mexican standoff in Baja California. eventually Trinity sees that i don't have a clear medium-sized plastic bag in my hand and lets me go. crisis averted, hostage coming out for snacks.
i do the man one better and twitch my nose like Samantha from Bewitched when i get outside to smell. like i have whiskers on my nose.
Trinity (thinking): treats? treats is good. where's amicus? amicus is coming back. the yellow light outside is on, the sky is so beautiful. i am happy as a clam.