Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here It Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown

The same Saturday morning ray of sunlight that warmed Harry's feet was heating Boris' entire body. He sat in the valley of the comforter, licking the length of his hind leg. The leg extended out at an angle to the cat's body. It reminded Harry of a ballet dancer's stretch. Up until the point that the dancer licked the length of his leg.

"Hi." Harry said, then held his breath. The cat kept licking. Harry exhaled slowly and stretched in relief, nudging Boris out of his comforter valley. The cat gave him a dirty look and then settled into an adjoining valley, still in full sun. Harry slid out of the left side of the bed. That had always been his side and even now, Colleen a memory of warmth on his right, he refused to stray or wander. He slept on the left, got into bed on the left, got out the same way. He walked to the bathroom to piss. Then he walked back to the bedroom to make the bed. He wasn't getting back in. The day had started, time for coffee and the morning paper and whatever else he could come up with to pass the time. He started straightening the sheets and comforter.

"Something wrong with my corner of heaven?" Boris asked.

Harry looked at the cat. He said nothing.

"Cat got your tongue?" Boris asked and then shook his head while expelling air out of his mouth and nose. It looked to Harry like he was sneezing other than Boris baring his fangs at mid-expellation. "Ok, so we haven't gotten laughing down to reaction you can comprehend." Boris said, looking at Harry with one eyebrow arched. Which was to say one top of eye collection of whiskers higher than the other eye.

"Fuck." Harry said.

"Can't. You had that taken care of. On top of which I am very much not interested in you. I'd say heterosexual but that's so...I don't know, sapio-centric? So why didn't I answer you when you addressed me this morning? Hmm. You'd have what? Sprung out of bed like a madman, launching me at the ceiling fan with aplomb? Dude, you've got to remember the six to one weight ration you've got."

Harry answered "Fuck."

"I see we're off to a good start. Tell you what. You go downstairs and get some coffee going. Clean out my bowl and serve 'breaky' like you usually do. I promise I'll just rattle along in something you can understand until you get settled. Then we can chat."

Harry looked at the cat. Boris yawned, then snapped his jaw shut. The cat looked at Harry and meowed loudly.

"Ok. Ok. I'll get you breaky." Harry said.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Is Fault Moose and Squirrel

"What?" Harry swore he heard Boris say.
Then Boris got up, stretched, yawned-snapping his teeth shut the way he did when he was annoyed-and walked away. Harry stayed laying on the couch, not having moved other than hurriedly pushing the mute button on the remote on the off chance that Boris hadn't finished his thought. He didn't. That didn't happen. Boris was either in the kitchen-again-or had gone upstairs. Harry turned the sound back on and wondered which number glass of Maker's Mark he was on. But he wasn't counting. At least he had promised himself not to count tonight. It was Friday, the week was over and he had worked hard to get it all done, get to the end of it and leave the office with no regrets and a few tasks for Monday morning. Tonight was get comfortably numb night with little expected other than a face-plant into bed around midnight, not counting having taken its toll and advanced Harry's war on insomnia.
Boris' affront wouldn't help that but Harry wouldn't dwell on it. He'd ignore Boris until the morning came. Then he'd face him down and ask him what the big idea was.
Harry was sure Boris had a reason. He always did. Even on nights Boris went out. Nights that it was raining and cold and all Harry could think about was filling his glass against the chill, Boris would insist on heading out, always having a reason but never sharing it with Harry until he got home. Couple hours later Boris would check out what Harry was watching or look at the cover of the book he was reading or just toss a glance into whatever room Harry was in-except the bedroom-to check out Harry and if he was ok.
Harry was getting better as the days accumulated into weeks and the weeks into months. It had been a bunch of months, eleven whole and then some, since Colleeen had left-she had to but that only satisfied Harry's intellect, never his heart-and Harry had stopped running past her house at nights, he'd stopped running altogether.
It wasn't practical, Colleen staying in town. She could get work just as easy in whatever city she wound up in and she and Harry would be safe as long as they stayed away from each other. Sure, they were safe. But that was here and now and some day Paul's prison sentence would end or some parole board would believe his "model" put on and he'd be out and the danger would start again. Better this way with her gone and Harry not having a clue where. Paul could hit him all he wanted and he'd get all Harry knew which was nothing.
So she left. She was gone and Harry trading his running shoes in for a drinking glass which he'd drain a couple of times a night, every night, just to settle down and be able to sleep. Except Friday nights when he promised to lose count and he most often did. Those were the nights of reckless abandon that sometimes wound up with Harry dropping into bed around ten thirty and sometimes wound up with Harry talking to Colleen-even though she was long gone-out loud and no doubt annoying Boris to no end. There was the drunk bastard, chattering away to his long lost love like there was no tomorrow. If he had balls, he'd have run away with her. But something kept him in his comfort zone of manageable house, ok job, town he felt in place in and me hanging around most days.
Try going through what I went through was what probably ran across Boris' mind most Friday nights.
It started as a hard spot. Something that should not have been where it was, hanging around her kidney, 'round mid-back. It grew. She complained. If you touched it, ran your hand over it she'd yelp and positively screech if you gave it a squeeze. Harry talked to the Doc for a long time and they decided, once they knew what it was, to let it go, to let her go because there was no hope, there was only cutting and sutures and hanging around trying to heal while the stuff spread to another organ. So they let it be, let it take it's course which it did and she died within two months. That was eight months ago. Harry had had them both around the house for three months after Colleen left to keep him company and then she left too. She died and now it was him and Boris, a widower and an ex-something or other-Boyfriend? Paramour?-hanging out together for company.
Harry looked at his empty glass and wondered how many, really how many, he had had. Couldn't be that much. He spoke:
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."
He didn't slur any of the words.
"You're not that drunk." Boris called from the kitchen.
"K, thanks." Harry answered and it was then that he sat upright and snapped the tv off.
Boris was in the kitchen and Harry had to see him. Just had to. He righted the pillows he had been laying on and walked in to see Boris sprawled out on the floor. His front leg was under his head and his back legs were splayed. His tail twitched. There was marmalade fur in the corner of the small galley kitchen, Harry picked it up between two fingers and let it float into the sink. Boris was riotously red as Natasha had been black and white patched. If they had mated, Harry was anxious to see what kind of excitement of color the kittens would be. But Harry never got that chance and neither did Boris and neither did Natasha most of all.
"Did you just say something?" Harry asked.
Boris stared at him. He closed his eyes for a moment in that comfortable way that cats do when they relax or can't be bothered with you.
"Ok. Thanks." Harry said and put the glass in the sink next to Boris' wad of fur and the dinner dish. He looked back at Boris.
"You think you're alone here?" Boris asked. "You think you're the only one who's lonely, who's missing some deeper part of himself, who is wondering what's next?"
Harry just looked at him.
"The game is awful. Sox are down three and they're not going to come back tonight. C'mon Harry, its the mid-season Red Sox blues. You're tired. Go to bed."
Harry continued to watch Boris as he got up, walked past the dry food bowl, glance at it then continue to the middle of the dining room floor where he sat down and looked back at Harry.
"Fuck." was what Harry said. And nothing more.
"I miss Tash. You miss 'Leenie. We'll talk about it in the morning." He rose and walked into the living room, jumped up on the couch and got into a sleeping tuck.
It was probably ten minutes later. Harry couldn't be sure. He didn't much care but he turned the kitchen light off, checked that the back door was locked-it was-and walked up the steps to bed. He stopped three quarter ways up. He didn't turn. He just stopped, putting both feet on one step and breathing slowly. When he finally made his mind up to take the next step Boris called from the couch:
"One. You've been nursing that one glass all night. And you didn't finish. Just in case you were wondering."
"Talk in the morning." Harry said and went to bed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Never to Glub or Glurk Again

Bill the fish didn't make the day and now I'm pondering how elaborate a funeral he's to be given. Staring at me with those huge fish eyes, he doesn't look much different than he did in life other than he's completely motionless and his head is cocked at a somewhat awkward angle.

It was cocked that way a lot. The cats regarded Bill's home as a handy place to hydrate up with flavored water on the way to the nightly coaxial cable chew. It was kind of a symbiotic relationship, they'd slurp at his tasty fishbowl water, he'd lure them even deeper into the narrow-necked bowl hoping to get them cranially stuck and panicked with some sort of space-cat helmet now girdling their fuzzy necks. For once, they proved to have slightly larger brains than I usually give them credit for as, up until now, they still after several nights in the attic, outside, under the bathtub, in the garage, don't get the idea of doors that can only be operated with opposable thumbs.

But back to Bill. Burial at sea is out of the question in that one of my favorite bike paths passes by a sewage treatment plant. I say this only in that next April when I am sprinting past the thing that smells of a thousand farts, one particulary noxious whiff will no doubt be the remains of Bill and the last meal of bloodworms being digested in the thing that I was arrogant enough to flush him down to. Nope. Ain't gonna happen.

Digging him into the flower bed is more like it. I like the juxtaposition of burial of an aquatic on land for we are forever tossing our flotsam into their homes, fitting that they dump on ours. We bury at sea. Do you ever come across a fish buried on land? And I don't mean last night's Yellowfin which is primarily buried at stomach and if you follow it logically through it goes right back to burial at sea anyway. Nope, I'm going to ask Bill to push up some daisies for me.

The last time I buried a pet, it was my favorite cat; Crittur. She lasted a good 18 years but got a little Bill the Cattish, dotty and unkempt in the last few months. I remember her last morning, when she was weak and sprawled out on the living room floor, sprawling being the only physical act left that she could manage. I put her on a warm towel, brought her food and water, almost turned the TV on for her but knew it would wind up on the History Channel which she hated so thought the better of it. When I got home from work, indeed all that was left was a rigored corpse that kind of looked like a cardboard flat of a tabby.

She too wound up in the flowers as I remembered all the nights we used to play, "Catch me if you can" long before the popular movie of the same name. Crittur liked to go out in the evenings which was fine as long as she came back in before (my) bedtime. She mostly didn't so we had an evening ritual that consisted of me, a flashlight, a cat, and several scurries along the house foundation, behind the arbor vitae, up the rock garden to the flat spot on the dry stone wall she'd quizically stare at me from until I got within two feet of her. Then she'd drop off the back side, trot off into the woods beyond wondering why, after the eleven hundredth time, I didn't get it.

We played this game a couple of times a night over the course of a few hours and eventually Crit tired and wandered up to the back door and meowed to come in. Couple of nights, usually in the middle of summer she'd figure she was better off in the cool of the woods and I'd go to bed a little on edge. I always found her in the morning tuckered out herself. Seems that sleeping in the wild involves keeping one eye open, far from the slumberous abandon of the foot of the bed or sprawled alongside the kibble dish. She'd drag herself in, grab some chow and flop on the couch for the day to catch up on Z's while I went off to work pondering why if we are at the top of the food chain, the cat is watching Animal Planet re runs while I'm at a job I hate?

We had a rabies outbreak for a few years back then, which I why I got pretty insistent that Crittur haul her furry ass indoors at night. Racoons mostly got infected so you had to watch yourself around the trash and at the edge of the woods. I was out playing Catch Me if You Can with Crit one night when I thought she had given herself away by crashing through a small copse of trees and underbrush that separated my upper back yard from my lower one. I was ready to receive her in open arms when the biggest raccoon I've ever seen too close crashed past the last hosta. Shooing him did no good so I threw some two by four off cuts from a porch rebuild, a hammer or two and finally the contents of my recycle bin at him. Nonplussed, he gave me a dirty look and retreated into the brush. Crittur was of course right behind me watching and wondering what the great upright idiot was up to this time. I explained the yard o' trash to the neighbours the next morning, saying I was on a drunken angry bender. Seemed less embarassing than "a big raccoon scared me."

Good night Bill.

Bunny on.

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