i wake up with a thud. on my leg. lo and behold, there's a huge hairy mound of orange fur, levitating slightly. it feels so much more there now that i'm awake. up and down.
Trinity is rudely interrupted from his innocent dreams and quickly jumps off as if the bed's on fire. i scamper down the stairs to the hall just brimming with light and see Talia plopped down on her new resting place, by the beanbag couch keeping guard over the front door. i pick her up and kiss her head.
me: my beautiful princess.
Talia readies her hind legs and pushes her strike into my face.
Talia: i'm not a baby, amicus. you have a massive forehead. fivehead, right fratrem? or maybe it's just my perspective.
me: i know. want some orange juice?
Talia sticks out her tongue.
Talia: too bitter. i'm weaning on that messy milk fratrem distributes to me. what's it called again? Yakking?
i lower the heat and methodically blind up the curtains. i open the windows and am greeted harshly by the sound of sirens and congestion. i can never see anything in this place, the domitille to the north blocks my view of the below. so much for neighbors.
me: i guess the light's out. that blinking red is too powerful, i can see it from hilltop. poor guy picked the wrong day to live. and now he's gonna die cos the ambulance couldn't make it.
Trinity: i'll lend them the stretcher in the garage when i make my rounds.
and then Trinity does something which fascinates me to this day: he stands up on his hind legs, balances himself on his haunches, raises his paw and makes the sign of the cross on his forehead, heart, and two shoulders, his long gray whiskers getting in the way.
i retire to my bedroom for morning exercises and meditation. i plant my shoed toes on the edge of my new bed with the space under now and do my sit-ups. 10 in the morning, 10 in the evening when i have time. my sister crashes my door.
sister: hey, i hear grunts. you masturbating in there?
me: uh........no! you got lucky this time. i'd say don't you knock?! but it's your house.
sister: have the saws from Sciez come in?
me: uh.......no. but allow me to wake up first.
Trinity and Talia leap onto either shoulder of my sister and purr.
sister: well whaddaya know.
she pets them routinely and removes them from her body.
sister: alright, they're your kids. gotta go. errands the importance of which can't be stressed enough. it's wall-to-wall out there, watch out for me at an unusual time. expect the unexpected.
i casually walk to the kitchen and fry an egg.
me: sorry, son, no more hardboils. just as well. my potbelly is indicating i need a cleanse.
my bare toe steps on what appears to be a tiny black plastic toy fragment. i am steamed (and steeped) and race to my sister who's frazzled conjuring up her boxes.
me: hell no, witch! what is your problem! how can you leave these choking hazards on the carpet for the cats to die on!
sister: what?! oh no, not today, not this morning, not right now, satan. those aren't mine! i outgrew playing with toys unlike others.
me: then whose is it?
sister: look. there's no time. there never is but now especially. time is running out. what are you going to do when i'm gone? how are you gonna provide for yourself? how are you gonna pay for this house?
me: i have no clue! NO MORE PRESSURE. i can't take it! i'm crazy! i have no answers! i have no idea what i am to become!
sister: you just assumed the house would be paid off and you'd stay here rent-free like a prince for life, huh? that'd be nice. i'm working on it, you ungrateful inglorious bastard. i don't have time to express what i'm living for. that is so sad.
me: throw it out the way. i am too done.
sister: make the spaghetti okay? you can boil water, i've seen you with your eggs, you care for them like they're live babies. keep your roll. if you have to use the grow box in the garage, use it to plant harmless things. there's a cute little packet of basil seeds that comes with the new bottle of Ragu Homestyle. come take a picture with me?
me: woman what drug you sippin'?
sister: fine i'll take a selfie.
me: man that's pathetic. okay fine but don't touch me and i won't smile.
i don't smile, i'm not a smiler generally, but i do relent and let my sister hug my shoulders. she winces through the pain and i just show pain. *flash*
sister: feel ya, bro, smiles should be smiles, curvatures of the lips, closed mouths. none of this open-mouth showing-of-the-teeth creepiness. goddamnit. where's the best slice? you're the local fast food expert. y'know you should somehow try to get paid for your writing.
me: Pedro's. best mexican pizza in town. pinch of garam masala makes all the difference. fine i'll do the pasta...
i check my watch
me:...on my mama. after my 3 o'clock flop.
my sister checks her watch.
sister: uh, flip flocks? don't wear flip flops in socks cos it's a bad fashion statement? lazy gen-x slacker? never agreed with that, bro, i always thought your choice to wear socks with your sandals was a stroke of pure genius. especially your dark socks. i thought you quite handsome in them.
me: it was a stroke alright.
the last sound i hear is my sister slamming the door, walking out on the portico, her steps in her brothel creepers heavy and doomful.
i notice a note by the phone. the phone rings and my heart collapses. the kitchen phone is too cool to pick up, it's an antique trimline. the note says
i look around the mansion and a keen sense of set and setting washes over me. but i'm not on anything. there's a thickness in the air. the cats have overtaken this setting. i don't know what it is anymore to live in a space without two unpredictable furry mammals moving here, there, and back again.
me: it's suffocating.....i miss being alone......but then i don't........and i know all this motion, all this activity is love. my stomach is exceedingly settled.
i'm too lenient. i let my cats taste all the food i have for lunch, let them smell all the savory odors. now it's too late. now when i have lunch, i can't eat in peace. i have to lock myself in my sister's closet. more space than mine. there, with the little light peering through the slats of the doors, i drink my Keurig soup in a teacup and notice the beige Dry on the Fly Duluth pants hanging on her hangers.
Talia howls for no reason. she lifts her leg and chews it. it's clear her nails haven't been cut in weeks. growth happens when no one's looking. Talia yawns comfortably.
at the Store:
checker: you look familiar, miss. that dude?
my sister places her sole two items, Grape-Nuts and a can of black olives, on the conveyor belt.
despite her eternal defeat at the hands of time, my sister can't help but stop and look at the blaring headlines on the cover of the reputable publication left next to Time:
KHLOE KNEW! PROOF OF WIFE! WHEN EVERYONE ELSE LAUGHED OFF LAMAR'S CANDY ADDICTION, KHLOE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO WAS WORRIED AND SECRETLY TOLD BRUCE BEFORE SHE WAS CAIT IN CONFIDENCE ABOUT IT. THAT SECRET MADE IT INTO THIS WEEK'S SEASON FINALE EPISODE. KHLOE KNEW IT WAS A TROUBLING SIGN OF BAD THINGS TO COME!
i try to work on my story. but there's never enough time. i wish i had all the time in the world to polish it, to insert one more reference, to make that connection back to the first chapter stick more, to add depth and longer words. it doesn't always have to be an epic but it must be a page clicker. Trinity jumps on my desk just as i'm about to type something brilliant.
me: damn it. get off the desk! that's not the word i meant. that's not the concept. i had it, i had it in my head..............but it's gone evermore. now i'll never be rich. as i get older, i find my brain can only hold so many lists. it's either shopping or the summit. old age, attrition, and pot. but y'know hang on, that word you made me type i've never seen before. certainly funner to pronounce than the old word. yes i think i can make this work. not the direction i anticipated but the one that anticipated me. thanks, bud.
Trinity: anytime. that's what i'm here for.
i am so engrossed to my screen i don't notice my sister banging on the clear panes of the backyard slidedoors. the ones she ordered to stay locked at all times. she is shrieking and screeching and hammering but they're soundproof and the best and she always paid for quality. she would always tell me to use my money smartly, to save up for the stuff that matters, which might mean lean meals. fill your fighting machine with people, not things. i laughed off all her advice over my shoulder as i played my 8-bit games. cos i knew i'd never have any money to burn. this happened yesterday, i'm a retroist. waste not, want not, have not. now what did the ending have to have again? fuck i forgot.
me: hey Talia, jump onto daddy's lap. come on my cat. distract me with dignity, you classy dame. roar me out of my rut. i'm blocked. again.
as i think, i look directly out the window to see if any of the ants have moved from their file. i'm looking square into my sister's eyes. but i don't see her. she hangs her head in utter disappointment and her hectic hesitation turns to abject fear as she hears something in the bushes. she makes sure to drop her white bag onto the step and rushes out. following her are two large men with glasgow smiles and hatchets and machetes in either hand and surprising sprints.
i can't sleep.
me: surprise surprise. whaddaya know. she's late. she's not coming back. off to who knows where. your loss, babe, cold spaghetti is disgusting. my cute classmate tricked me into eating it once. she said cold spaghetti actually tastes good, it retains the flavor you miss in the heat. like a lovestruck fool i tried it and it was ghastly. the butter made it worse. i spit it out but my muscles were still young so i spit it back in. it tasted horrible, like a lobotimized brain. i never trusted girls again.
Talia is sleeping on the lower half of the dishwasher i forgot to load and push the button.
Talia: *with one eye open* oh amicus, didn't smell you, come in. we were just, uh, sleeping, yeah, sleeping. fratrem and i weren't hatching out details or anything, not having a secret confab, midnight meeting, heehee.
Trinity: hash. you have eggs on the brain. just the changing of the guard you witnessed, amicus, as natural as the night.
Talia closes her other eye.
Talia: don't kick me, i'll get off!
Trinity: i told you, sororis, amicus isn't like that. when he gets angry he gets thirsty. i wish he'd stop with his bottle collection and do something useful, like write about his bottle collection.
SUDDENLY a wave electric and stunning blankets the world. it's like someone out there was sick of all this foolishness and delay and wanted to write his own story. make his presence felt like a thudding machine landing on our spot.
the land betrays us.
water flowing forever
a gigantic rumble gives way to the most wretched sound of the earth ripping in half.