i was right. for once. i mostly let the hassles of the move wash over me and flood my sister. when i was asked a question, i went to find my cat. i decided that getting angry about every little thing wasn't gonna solve anything. though it always felt good. well, not good but instinctual. getting angry about the big things is what's important.
and it really wasn't that big of a deal. my sister's place was amongst the mansions up in the hills. whenever you have to take a dirt road to get somewhere you know it's special. it surprisingly was exactly like my place, ex-place, with the lawn and everything. the lawn was a little smaller cos the more expensive a place is, the smaller a space it occupies. the last time my sister and i drove in her car with the cool gullwing doors for more than an hour was when she picked me up from college for the last time. this is nice, car conversation. i need to get to know my sister more. she is the only twolegs i can face, though i look at her only when she's not looking at me.
my sister: at least it's not too hot. but it's always hot inside here. must be a Lincoln thing. i think they stuff the seats with felt. crack a window?
she looks at her rearview mirror and sees me and Trinity in the backseat. only i'm wearing my seatbelt. and only i am having fun with the ball of yarn.
me: nah i'm cool. *i lower the window* let's talk.
my sister turns on the radio. it's Margo Price.
me: saw her on SNL. people made fun of her nose on facebook, it sealed the deal and made her forever beautiful to me. she's not like the other girls, she takes the booted step from cute fluff to sexy mystery, she allures. i see her bathed in dull yellow light but i don't see the spotlight, she's surviving the long day strumming her pawnshop guitar, no greatest loser in the world here, a hero of life, a steely survivor. soulful vocals. haunting heroine hits to help. from a different time and place, possibly even from a city. she looks like she could replace Rachel on Friends. her birth is rural but her upbringing is sensible, her eyes are urbane country, her tats are tellers. i read up on her story and it was tragic out of the country-singer's manual to a T of the heel made of silver spurs. her album cover speaks to her wispiness, she's a fairy fluttering from mushroom to mushroom across the countryside, never staying, just long enough to fill the brim of a young cowpoke's hat with her gold dust. she's a singer with heart. and a soul as old as a broken heart. a string only shows itself when plucked.
sister: jahno? no fair. i can't lose myself like you do. have to keep some mind on the road. i need to muse more. i'll check her out. can't think of the last time i had a lazy Sunday. work prevents me from staying up Saturday nights.
me: i don't know whether i'm alone with my thoughts all the time or lonely. she's bringing country back to the roots, wearing traditional long spaghetti-string tassels, none of this pop-and-bro country shit. and i don't follow country music. i probably read that somewhere. i hate country music. that's my kneejerk reaction. i've always said that to myself so it must be true. though i've never listened to country music. not a full song from beginning to end. only on SNL.
we cross the border without incident. this may be the last time that's true.
me: i want to say this to you now that we're between arguments. the time might not come again. we are serene like the skyline yonder, calm as the nearby waves gently crashing the rocks giving permission waving their magnets for a shower. you are the queen, i bow down. you were always the younger mature one. i've been through stuff but you were adopted and that has shaped you into a shrewd businesswoman. you have been molded with fire into a modern lady. you are a postfeminist princess and i am proud to be related to you. and we are related, never doubt that. we were both forged in the cauldron of a 100-degree Los Angeles heat. *i sniff the air around me violently* before and after the levee breaks.
sister: i know. is this a metaphor? of course it is, you only speak in riddles. is this about my water breaking? i can assure you, i learned the hard way and will not make the same mistake. heartbreak seals stronger than before. sure i manipulated the boss as all in my position should. you gotta have fun being you. but only to get access denied me by history. being a nurse sucks. you want to help but you end up the helpless punchingbag. i figured if i was to be blamed for everyone's problems i might as well get paid like a doctor. and you know what i found? it's lonely at the top. the breakthrough is more exciting.
me: i don't doubt you'll accomplish all your dreams. i love that you leave me in the dark about your life. and secretly meddle in mine. what is life if all is known. you inspire me. i look up, not sideways, to you.
we reach the end of the hill, pull up the leaf-littered concrete driveway, and turn to face the shiny storied sumptuous solid structure. past the enormous tree that must be ten feet tall i notice a week later. it takes me two weeks to notice that this is indeed a mansion. and a month to notice that this is more of a mountain. and if i look far enough i can see my old Mexican apartment.
the movers are easy to handle. they all have their backs broken, standing in the crooked V position. one even removes his brace and it feels better to move around again. he wiggles and straightens up and lifts his Duluth shirt to air out his underboob and experiences bracing air for the first time. he's the one tasked with carrying my antique television set up to my room.
me (speaking from behind the tree): i'll take that, good sir. that box is my diary. it contains my precious memories and my nostalgic viewpoints. wouldn't want you breaking irreplaceable discontinued glass or woodfinish sidepanels.
mover: you can get another tv, kid. preferably one that's lighter and flatter. like my ex-wife. i can tell that room's important to you. you don't look like you go to the gym. you don't inhabit another space.
me: well, sure, everyone's bedroom is their sanctuary. their fortress of solitude. if they're lucky enough to be an only child. that's what i thought, that's what i would have said to him if i had the guts. btw, that snarky gym insult is usually said to people who are fat, not skinny. this guy's been around the block, he's lived. i'm not sure whether i just thought that or said that outloud.
my sister had a rare afternoon off. or she would pay later in the week by combining her lunch hours now for today or something. we went to the second storey and sat down on the floor of my barren bedroom waiting for my bed to come through. the door. and clear the bank, too.
sister: so that's something to live for. your old bed had the springs piercing through. couldn't have been comfortable.
me: i'm a deep sleeper. i don't notice things. thank you. and thank you in advance.
we have an impromptu late lunch. she has her usual Virginia Slims cigarette and tupperware of crab stick. she lays out for me my two white pills on a paper plate. i down it with some mamajuana i pawned off a kid at the border.
sister: is that the midori i ordered online ten cases of? should have arrived by now. shouldn't drink it straight, i just use it for cooking.
me: i believe you. you are too busy to lie. no, just a green bottle.
i take a swig behind her back. i finally have the time to read the label. oh, this wasn't what i thought it was. it's probably gonna end up curing me with herb, not blasting me with it. my sex drive will be more potent for when i masturbate.
sister: there are many vices out there, some juniors, some seniors. i'm not naive enough to believe you're an angel. but i also know you're not the devil. just don't get mixed up with seniors. please, i beg you, for the sake of sake, no hard drugs.
me: the only drugs i take are the Vanquish you prescribe for me. i'm an actor, i don't do drugs. scout's honor.
sister: you quit Cub Scouts, remember? you told me the story. i wasn't born yet.
me: i suppose i did. but i did love that thick Webelos handbook. i read that thing cover to cover imagining i had the will to accomplish anything to the end. those neckerchiefs were neat, i wanted all the colors, all the levels. that was my first collection before gray NES railroad cartridges. i wanted the rainbow round my neck. i loved that centerfold spread of the three anthropomorphic creatures, they were more alive than people to me. i was a furry before it was cool.
sister: those aren't Vanquish but i do wish Vanquish would go back under the counter. anything that works that well is dangerous. so, reading any parts?
me: better, writing them. at least now that we're back in the home country i won't have to know Spanish. the Baja acting scene is tough. it's California but i swear it was more like Mexico over there.
sister: you just loved staying in. that place. when you've got an apartment it doesn't matter where you live, you can close all the drapes and not utter a word of language.
we talked about whether men or women were the worse gossips. this is the kind of stuff we discussed when one or the other was in a good mood. i thought it was pretty clear women were, it was bred into their genes for centuries, at least since National Enquirer. that's why they went to hair salons, not for the hair. shipping is central to the success of any show on tv, that half of the demographic seals the deal. women formed their female friendships always first over rumors about boyfriends and girlfriends and who's dating who, the traveling pants came later. my sister brought up mom and said she heard from dad that actually men gossiped viciously. i couldn't get my head around that, men never spoke to each other above a mumble, even best friends. they would talk about sports and women. so yeah, women, but in the sense of that chick is hot and i want to bang her or she's nice and i want to bff her. he'd ask if she had a boyfriend. if she did, the conversation would end right there, he wouldn't be interested in knowing the boyfriend's name or dating history or bad habits or that he's a slob and can't cook nor sing. he'd look at his manicure.
MEANWHILE Trinity is getting used to the new digs. he sinks his flat paws into this carpet, this new substance, this material of tiny strange shag ropes. he takes a long vicious sniff of the stuff. Trinity does a cartwheel and flips over the top down the stairs.
Trinity (thinking): i wonder if amicus or the other twoleg saw that. oh shit, the movers are still here! where's the hole in this place?!!
then inevitably either my sister or myself would be pleasant while the other stewed. doctor visits would come up and i'd end the conversation right there before the both of us were in a bad mood, those were the worst talks. that's when grievances and past failures would be dredged up regardless of gender.
Trinity: i love the new bed, amicus. i jump up next to you. i see you smoking. i don't think that's good for me, amicus. clouds are only for outside. the smoke cloud could...oh, it's not a real cigarette, it's a bubblegum cigarette, you're eating it and blowing bubbles. those bubbles feel weird on my face. i glower and close my eyes when i see that strange ball coming out of your mouth, it's unnatural. i lick your face. i don't bite it.
me: oh Trinity! my baby, love this baby, love dis baba. thank you. i had an inkling i shouldn't smoke, i thought of you i really did. i'm selfish mostly but i have my causes for pause. mostly for paws. not a pregnant pause, but still. that Truth ad on tv confirmed it for me.
Trinity: lub u 2. and now amicus is playing with his gum, he takes the wad out of his mouth and stretches it into a tiny string, so thin a thread you can barely see it.
i am left with my cat in a cold, empty warehouse of a home. my sister works too much. it's been enough time now it's become an unintentional silent treatment.
me: Trinity, hi, hi boy. i'm getting on all fours. i'm in your boat, this is a new environment for me, also.
Trinity: i knew it! you're really one of us, amicus, you're no man. you were just pretending all this time to fit it, to camouflage us from the dangerous world out there. but we're safe now: insular, inside, closed off, locked up in this large cage. you're a good mother.
me: more than anything else, my cat, i want you to feel comfortable. here. and with me. i don't want you to see me as that stranger who snatched you from the shelter in the only known good kidnapping to date. it was a high-stakes job but it was my one last job. heist of humanitarianism. i want you to look into my mocha eyes and see that i've changed, i've molded in the heat, i've molten so you can eat me, i'm deeper now, i'm your man, your provider, your friend.
i fall asleep on the floor. Trinity gets on my back and kneads the kinks out. iron is good for you. free massages are the best massages. he sleeps for awhile but it's just a catnap. he leaves my lifeless log and approaches the waterbowl in my bedroom for the first time at night. it's still chipped but that water looks delicious. Trinity lowers his head and unfurls his tongue. he laps it up noisily which wakes me up. i stir, move ever so slightly, but animals are keen to such things, they hear things humans won't, and he runs away out my door before he has a chance to finish. i always feel bad about that. i want him to feel satisfied. i want him to have a sense of accomplishment. i find him by my bedroom door, on the other side of the door, on a blanket my sister must have laid out for him. there is a large depression where he lies and looks up to me with a concerned face. i try to smile warmly back at him. it's been a while since i tried to earnestly do that.
Trinity: amicus has a nice smile.