my world is crumbling all around me, but i've got my cats...
see that's the thing. time doesn't exist in my mansion, my sister's mansion, it's been sucked up by the vacuum i pass each morning to give Trinity a real toy to play with. people race out the door to work and i race to the bathroom upstairs where it's so quiet you can hear the bar of soap dissolve into that weird slice of shiv. i wonder if i should take a peek inside my sister's medicine cabinet? that's not something i'm naturally inclined to do but it's what everyone does on tv sitcoms with couches and innocent commercials for Robitussin before robotripping was a thing. Trinity like his amicus races to the garage, the one not quite up to code and with the radioactive dryer, to the dark recess of the furthest bowel, where the white sheet is laid out on the couch.
Trinity: close the door, amicus, and don't turn on any artificial light. what you consider dark i consider damp and cool.
me: i will, my pet.
i look out onto the terrace to the unfinished wood paneling of the deck that looks better that way. further on the coos of the doves to the side can only be heard but seen is the field of beautiful flowers radiating the sun atop their shimmering yellowheads. i don't know what these flowers are called but there's something bland about them. an orange tabby that basically looks like Trinity but is a big fatty approaches the screen waving his paw scaring Trinity half to death! in the commotion i don't realize that the one yowling with such a plaintive heartbreak is in fact Trinity and not the stranger.
Trinity: MEEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWWWWWWW not cool, i'm not ready to make friends. i'm still recovering from my traumatic experience, addicts need time to heal. get out of here, pudgy puss, amicus is mine!
fat cat: well i never. i've conducted myself friendly and calm. you rich bitches are all the same.
my sister hurriedly grabs the vacuum attachment from this morning and scurries the intruder to jump over the wall and into a pack of snarling dogs. i feel bad, really bad. oh, the dogs are divided into another quadrant of the complicated system of gardens around here. fat cat's safe...for now. okay but i still feel bad. just before my sister "rescued" us from rabies or whatever fat cat rolled onto his back begging for his belly to be scratched, just like Trinity does. i think i may have even discerned a faint scratch on his belly. poor bugger just wanting love like any other poor feline soul in this cruel world, no different from Trinity save for a fool or a sap lugging him by the collar to the animal shelter. sometimes it's good to have a collar on for awhile. who decides who gets lucky?
Trinity: don't trust him, amicus, he's not fat cos he eats well, he's all blowed up from street disease!
i can't help but have "Stray" from Wolf's Rain playing that hard guitar in my head, running on a loop. see who those wolves turned out to be? you can never tell.
me: whoa, didn't notice you there! when did you get home, sis?
my sister: it's closing time. i'm not working there one more second than i have to, i'm the boss. do you own a watch?
me: yes but there's no point. time doesn't exist. i am proof of this.
sister: why is your breath so rotten?
me: uh, i don't brush my teeth, remember? artist thing. i downed a whole roll of mint Life Savers earlier to compensate.
sister: *sigh* you're at that age when i can't tell you what to do anymore. besides, i'm the younger sibling, this is just weird.
DAY HITS and the only project i remember doing is eating and drinking. much easier to remember than the finer details of plot points for a script for television. having to remember characters' motivations, making sure they never stray off course of the bible so butthurt fanboys at conventions won't ream you one online. why is this a thing? i have a feeling "butthurt" is gonna get real old real fast. i dunno, but when you rely on instinct, not getting bogged down in a bog in the forest but rather seeing the trees around the bog in the forest, life is easier.
i look at the same spot on the terrace but it's raining this time. hard. biblically. it's weird how weather changes from day to day. i remember buying a cagoule in junior college but i don't wear it cos it reminds me of college. but i do go outside. it's the only way to see the strange angle the water hits the inconsistent floor of the deck to form a brilliant semicircle arch of spout.
me: whaddaya think, boy?
Trinity goes under it and washes himself off properly for the first time, the way nature intended. he opens his mouth but closes his teeth so they can get a good cleaning from the pressurized abrasion.
Trinity: it's a water rainbow. i like the water, i'm not your usual cat.
me: that's for sure (i think).
two things happen to me when i see all that flowing water: i suddenly recognize that there's been an easier way to clean the scoop this whole time! i don't need to scrape off the hardened poo right then and there and break my fingers, i can leave the scoop dunked in a large bucket of hot water overnight. come to it morning and i'll find the scoop pristine and clean and free from the faintest hint of brown. i call my sister.
me (at home): do we have a large bucket i can use?
sister (at work): a bucket of fuckit? no. well, clear out some items in the garage, nobody goes in there, it's a death trap, fuck those items, toss 'em out. remember to lock the shed where you store that bucket overnight, don't want fat cat to get a free drink.
me: cos it'd be poisonous for him, right?
sister: right right.
the second thing that happens to me when i see water is i have a drink.
Trinity: amicus is getting comfortable again on his bed. he is swigging that messy water vigorously...it seems that last sip was a bit too bold. now amicus is not relaxed at all, he's thinking hard, he's planning his future, he's running around the bedroom trying to scale the ceiling like i do. now he stops for a catnap. and he gets up a second later, still technically a catnap, and starts to bawl his eyes out. he's matching the outside.
i call my sister again.
sister: why you cryin'? the only crying i like is that Aerosmith song. i don't have time to cry.
me: i dunno, *ghastly throat clear* i thought too much this time. i haven't been feeling good for awhile. i'm lonely when Trinity goes hide. all my stories turn to shit upon first keystroke. i need a keygen that writes it for me. i got mad ideas but i'm too mad to concentrate and transcribe, transform my thought into action. my body and i well we bout ready to have a problem.
sister: i've noticed. i'm the only one who's able to. i'm not hearing your usual heehees. cheer up, things won't go your way, ever. you gotta deal with it and move on. you got Trinity, always remember that. if you don't remember me. use some of those rags in the garage for tissues. love ya but ya gotta stop calling here. if i lose my job we both be cryin'. hold on one more day and i'll cook you some supper tomorrow night i promise. night off. or the start of my vacation. i think.
me: my new bed, the check hasn't cleared yet, right?
that's when i decided. i needed more fluff in my life. as long as i had my brood i could face the world. i needed another cat. cats always cheer me up. i call the bank or some place and cancel the order for my bed. i think. with that money saved i'll get another cat from the shelter. i run outside without any raingear and take the bus, praying that it won't skid off the slick roads.
busdriver: hey skookum!
i recognize the voice though i dare not look...it's the vet.
busdriver: yep. don't ask. but at least i know the route to the shelter.
me: so, can you talk to me about shots? perhaps i shouldn't ask.
busdriver: Trinity is all caught up. i remember you guys, you were the only patients who were ever nice to me.
me: for a new kitten.
busdriver: what are you, crazy?
i get there and retrace my steps to the glassed arena waiting for my next love to emerge. she surprises me. she is a black cat, the one i wanted originally. she seems to have gotten smaller since last i checked in. they tell me to hold her but she looks like the Master. i stumble around before finally sitting down and cradling this new precious ball of fuzz in my arms. OMG! IT IS THE MASTER!
the Master: no i am not the Master. i am your new daughter Talia. but i am the Master cos the Master is an idea. but don't you see how cuddly i am? there's nothing to fear, i'm all natural, baby. heehee. you're the one discriminating. that's pussy prejudice. you see Talia's skin color and you assume she's evil. for shame. black cat lives matter.
me: deeply insensitive.
the Master: you?
me: no, you. when did truth, justice, and the American way get boiled down to a meme?
the Master: it's the American way. we're all just cats, all of us.
Talia mews like a cute newborn baby to break up the tension and announce her presence. otherwise i would not sense her cos she weighs less than a feather. i turn her over to scratch her belly. she nips at my finger and gargles like a bird. that's when i notice she's not all black but has white spots.
the Master (cat smile): oh so she is one of the lucky ones after all.
of course i take her, putting it on the longest payment plan possible to freeze any suspicion on my sister's credit card.
me: and a couple of new sturdy silverplated water and food bowls. should be free, the one you gave me for Trinity chipped upon first contact at home. no? oh. put it on my tab.
MEANWHILE Trinity is afrenzied over amicus's sudden disappearance into thin air.
Trinity: the Master took him! i'll have to bite the bullet and talk to other animal friends.
Trinity opens the front door and scampers out to the only place his senses direct him towards: off the scent of his daily food in the bowl each day he's able to trace his way to the Store. the sliding doors only need movement. there in the frozen aisle is a proud japanese spitz of stature, guide dog to a blind man in a Giants cap with his stomach on a gurney struggling for peas. Trinity is able to look directly into the man's eyes cos the gurney is too low to the ground so the man is at cateye-level. and Trinity doesn't have amicus's problems.
Trinity: working dog, a credit to your race.
spitz: that's racist. see? don't believe the hype. turn off media. dogs can be noble, too. we're not just a bunch of barking bitches. like my train and leash and official-looking seeing-eye dog embroidered saddle?
spitz: i close my eyes as i guide my master so i can experience what he does. so what was all that this morning? i'm the Master for fuck sake. you coulda treated me better.
Trinity: *shocked cat emoji* you're the Master?!! that orange tabby fuckiot?
spitz: hey hey watch the language. the youth today i swear. you'll get old someday, too. no respect for the old guard. yes, fat cat as you so eloquently dubbed me, that's my true form, my final form, my true self, my actual body. it's a bit embarrassing so i don't bring it out often, i like to remain in the shadows, it's cooler. i thought as a fellow orange tabby you'd understand. anyway don't let your rude happen again. you know i'm doing this for your own good, right? i'm taking you guys away before. you smell it, don't you?
Trinity: yes, i've been smelling it for ages. every morning it hits hard. i warn amicus but he doesn't listen to me, he's been in his own world lately. gomenasai. *Trinity bows his head but it's so quick the spitz doesn't notice* you deserve something grander than cheap squeaky toys. what were they thinking with these knockoffs? i mean you have a squeaky bone, a squeaky mouse, even a squeaky waterbowl. the other two-leg tried to pawn me off with this fake water! we like real water, we're on this planet, too.
spitz: don't go in the pet aisle here, they sell fake rubber squeaky bottles of water. you know my real job, right? i'm the CEO of FIJI Water, the only water untouched by man. i'm in charge. it's a secret like any good company's board room is. i know what we like. i know what drives us. i know what makes us salty. and thirsty.
Trinity rummages around the store looking for a proper bone. he sniffs the hot meat tray but it's a fireplace to him so he never gets close enough to touch it, only close enough to enjoy the warmth of the heatlamps marinating the potato wedges stuffed with sawdust and hardened ribs and gooeyless mac 'n' cheese and stoned nuggets. he hops outside to find an honest-to-goodness real big bone sticking out of the torn trashcan liners. he bites the bone to make sure it's solid and gold.
Trinity places the bone into spitz's mouth tongue to tongue.
spitz: thanks, Trinity-san. smells good. feels good. tastes good, good enough to eat, not just lick to sharpen my teeth so i can face the world. it almost tastes...human.
Trinity: yes, it smells familiar.
the pupils in the spitz's eyes dilate, they are in a trance, sleeping though the lids remain open. spitz's jaw locks tightly onto the bone leaving no room to bite down more. a clamp all around. the dog drools more than usual.
Trinity: you okay, boss?
spitz (like a zombie): our noses are time machines.
Trinity: yeah i know.
Trinity rushes over the river and through the woods to home. he spots amicus at the driveway...sweeping it! Trinity is so astonished he stiffens his body up to form a human arrow, or a cat arrow, with his newly-uncut left paw the arrowhead projectile pointing at this extraordinary scene.
Trinity: amicus i knew i'd find you! you're stronger than any black cat! i knew you'd never leave me. i hoped and hoped and hopped and you appeared. when have you ever swept the leaves off a driveway?
me: never. i've never thought to sweep the leaves off a driveway. i've seen it on shows but i never did it. but this is a special occasion. gotta soften her up if i have any shot.
amicus doesn't do a great job of it stumbling around with the broom like that.
sister pulls up with an unusual smile and surreptitiously steals away into the night of the garage a dotted white box from the trunk of her towncar. she prepares a meal mom used to make, Shake 'N Bake-coated pork with yellow chicken Rice-A-Roni and thai tea. and brussel sprouts.
me: (halfheartedly rapping) havin' a roni, pew pew pew pew *i spit into my knuckles*
sister: just like mom used to make. hey please turn off the tv while we dine, i can't stand any more wall-to-wall election coverage. i need a distraction. i need a romance.
me: no, thank you, just like YOU used to make. now.
sister: you okay? you're all wavy. have a seat. you don't have to eat standing up.
me: thank you. you sound just like...nevermind. i'm doin' well just really fucking tired. but enough about the republican elephant in the room. i'm voting for Somnambulianism. how was your day?
sister: heard about Joanie Laurer. sad. why do the good ones get treated so rotten? i don't refer to her as Chyna, that's a stage name, i'm more into real people. and i hate fake wrestling but she was the kindest soul on this teetering planet. we need more sweet. i think she was in the wrong profession, she should have been a priest. truly a wrestler with heart. each week we lose another bright light and our world dims. i don't believe in the law of three but i do believe in the law of averages and it urges me to become successful before it's too late. Doris Roberts, i think she was a bit jealous of Betty White. they don't make 'em like that anymore. i want to be a brassy broad when i grow up.
there's an ever-so-slight rumble of an aftershock that's felt by no one in the room.
see when you're a writer like me you can more easily cover up any slurred words in your speech. you just make up new words to replace them and it sounds literary.
sister: little ol' me? my day? thanks for asking. busy but i liked this chore. want another piece of meat? they're juicy. gonna finish those sprouts? i'm flexitarian after all.
me: i'm not used to fresh meat. it's so good, so tasty, so salty, never had the pretzel coat before, had the chicken and the pork. need a fish one i can feed Trinity. the meat just falls off the bone.
sister: that's cos it's boneless. better that way. like with KFC, get the nashville tenders, not the bones.
i take one bite of the brussel sprout. i've never actually eaten brussel sprouts before. don't know if it was because i didn't like them, or thought i wouldn't, or because all the kids on tv hated brussel sprouts. well...no, this little tree tastes like shit so i guess i didn't like them after all.
it's a penitent mew this time, making up for past transgressions.
Trinity without provocation bites my sister on her ankle, leaving a quite prominent two bite marks. he storms away and takes an impromptu nap under the other end of the dining table on an unoccupied chaircushion in a huff.
well, no provocation that any of us ol' puny humans can see.
sister: dammit! do i need a band-aid?
me: no, you're fine, you're just bleeding.
sister: your friend is a frickin' furry vampire! should have named him Twilight as punishment. anyway, as i was sayin, now i'm in a bad mood, you're rubbing off on me. now i don't want to do this anymore, don't feel like it anymore...but i have a surprise for you. oh the insane things we do for family.
me: you're always full of surprises, ain'tcha, missy? well i am gonna out-surprise you for the first time in our lives, see how you like it, see how it feels.
my sister goes to the garage to pick up the white box containing fat cat. she gave in and had a heart underneath all that cold profession after all. i totter my way up the stairs to my bedroom where Talia is being hidden. i stumble upon her licking her privates and i scoop her up and stumble back down the stairs.
me: i named her after mom...
sister: see? i'm not all corporate stone...
we show our surprise cats to each other at the same time, my sister and i holding our respective cats the same way, by the cat armpits, with the cat legs and cat tails dangling in the breeze. my sister has a harder time carrying the weightload of hers.
sister: i give up. you win again. black cat is cuter than fat cat.
Trinity (out loud): the Master ain't gonna like that!