Monday, June 26, 2006

Shame on the Night

I figured it out when I smelled their luggage on the floor. They left. Squirrels bickered in The Mayakofsky Tree, I dreamed a clammy bumblebee said, "If I were as small as the Great Ocean, I'd tiptoe on the waves and woo the moon like the tide" as I swallowed him. I rubbed myself on the bumpy clawhammer legs and wheels of Tony's computer chair. I knocked a milk-bottle cap-ring off the bookshelf.

Aaron walked right in the back door and tried to steal my bowl of Science Diet Senior Formula. I was under the bed, waiting to catch him off-guard. But I could smell Tytan, and potato chips, so I waited. I fell asleep. When I woke up, in the middle of the night, more food was in the dish somehow. And more water. That night I dreamed I caught the thunder and pranced the living room as it struggled in my indomitable mouth then I killed it.

Rubbed the smooth copper legs of a plant stand in the South Forest. Then the plant fell over and made a word I couldn't understand.

"Shimmy, don't crouch in the South Forest," Murray Slaughter said. "They're coming home tomorrow. They will think you have stomach flu and ship you to the Satanic Majesties Veterinarian." A fish, my education, the incalculable summer thunder, a scabrous baby squirrel born in The Tree. Sometimes the living room windows squeezes sunshine into the carpet if you're not hiding under the bed. Yes, of course I taught myself how to open the bedroom closet doors.

I was ready for Aaron and the invisible dog, Tytan. Were Tony and Shelly ever coming back? If they did, would they bring a world's parade of goldfish and hide them under the rug for me? I heard the key in the back door. I was ready for Aaron this time. I clipped my red Squeaky Fromme cape around my neck. Where was the invisible dog? I could smell him.

Aaron disturbed the dining room, spread a heap of mail on the table I walk on when nobody's looking. I heaved myself from beneath the bed and attacked him. He flailed a copy of the New Yorker, a People's Energy bill, and a wedding invitation. He held a book package from Amazon like an oyster in front of my face and I was afraid.

Friday, June 16, 2006

How About Passing the Time by Playing a Little Solitaire?

What’s the matter with her? Hey, Shimmy, what about my robe? What’s your personal advice? May I take this thing off now, Shimmy?

How many Communists did you say? Can you see the red queen?

You will be taken for a checkup -- is that clear? What’s your last name? What’s your last name? The letter? Have you got the letter?

What sort of greeting is that at 3:30 in the morning? Are you sure they’re coming to the party, Shimmy? Are you absolutely sure?

What are you supposed to be, one of those Dutch skaters? Why don’t we just sneak away for a few minutes and sit down somewhere quietly and stare out the window?

Shimmy, why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

Aren’t you going to pop champagne, or dance in the streets, or at least slide your food dish around the kitchen floor? Fifty-two red queens and me are telling you -- you know what we’re telling you?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Eight Worldly Concerns

1. You wake up next to a stack of hardcover books in the newspaper box. Walk into the kitchen. You slide the dish across the floor with your right paw and watch the splashing.

2. A round slice, a motionless sentence, a pop of air from the tin can lid. They pour soup from a rickety can into a pan and set a fire underneath it. Is that a surly foal quaking on its four legs? You can't eat it. Not tuna, chicken, turkey chunks in gravy.

3. That's good, all good, you're good. You didn't eat the flowers. You chirped when they were solemn. That's good.

4. You knocked a pen on the floor, vomited into traffic, hissed at the blind dog.

5. When the cat sensed things, she dug her claws into Tony's arm, alerting him. The cat knows 27 hiding places and mice the color of raspberries who stick to the roof of your mouth like butter tea.

6. She's crazy. You can't bring anyone over without her hissing. She growls at particular people. We don't know why. Then she rubs against their backpacks. Or their purses or shoes. Then she'll go into the bathtub to fall asleep.

7. A milk bottle cap ring at the crest of the rug, a shoe bottom that stepped on a bug, a breeze that blows a petulant whiff of squirrel through the window screen in July, a new bedspread
walking all over it, a clean pair of scissors from the moon, the first cut into a new bag of food, a clump of dirt you just swallowed with some leaves.

8. Mary attends her class reunion at Leif Erickson High. There, she runs into Howard Arnell, her goofy ex-boyfriend. Mary does her best to avoid Howard, but this proves difficult when he proposes to her over the gymnasium's P.A. system and she's found holding a piece of dental floss under a pile of coats in the closet.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Y Tu Rumsfeld Tambien (Part 5: Finis)

The turtle vase from Costa Rica turned its head toward me. Flailed its turtle-shaped Rumsfeld cow's arms and legs. Hissed and spat. I smelled a centipede crawling in the bathtub. Or a water bug.

"Keep him away from my food," I said.

Rumsfeld replied, "It is easier to get into something than to get out of it, Shimmy."

The cow stuck its head through the opening of the vase. I walked behind Rumsfeld and positioned myself in front of my food dish. The Secretary of Defense was still in his pajamas, of course.

"Quick, open the door," he said. "At least we can get him out of the apartment."

"I've been staring at the doorknob all morning and nothing's happened," I said. I tried to open it with a silent meow earlier, but this didn't help, either.

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty." He rushed over to the door and opened it with his left hand.

He picked up the turtle-shaped vase and tried to dump it into the hallway. I wanted to fall asleep next to the eight hardcover books stacked in the newspaper box. The vase leaped out of Rumsfeld's abhorrent hand -- as if the cow were encased in some kind of pliable ceramic sarcophagus -- and landed upright on the floor. The cow stood firm in his sarcophagus.

The cow looked around the hallway, stared a second at Jose and Nicole's apartment door. I glanced back at my Science Diet Hairball Control pellets in a dish on the floor in the kitchen.

Rumsfeld was chanting. The cow lowered its head, mesmerized.

Maybe the Secretary of State was summoning the supernatural three-headed dog that guards the Pentagon, the land of the dead. I couldn't tell.

"You know, it's the old glass box!" he chanted. "Old glass box at the gas station! Old glass box at the gas station where you're using those little things!"

Please. Get him out of here.

"Using those little things trying to pick up the prize! You . . . are . . . trying to pick up the prize . . . in the old glass box at the gas station where you're using those little things. Trying to pick up the prize . . . and you can't find it!"

The cow loped. Rumsfeld continued his detestable warlock chant:

"And it's all these arms are going down in there! And so you keep dropping it! And picking it up again and moving it!"

A puff of green smoke in the living room blinded me. Just then, a nine-inch Zuni warrior doll appeared out of the fog, his mouth stretched wide as his head. His fangs ground into shards of glass, eyes deranged. He stared at Rumsfeld, his master, like a cloistered Jack Russell Terrier.

I knew I recognized his odor. This was the doll that stalked Karen Black in Trilogy of Terror.

The Zuni doll jumped on Rumsfeld's shoulder. Obviously, the doll was Rumsfeld's "familiar" -- a witchy creature that obeys the Secretary of State's conjuring, his quest to control the animals and kill all life on earth.

I hissed at the Zuni doll before he could get near my food. Last month, I scared a blind dog, and five years ago I broke a shrubbery branch to ward off a dumb, plodding German Shepherd who wanted to steal my last can of Iams "Active Maturity" chicken and rice formula. The squirrel family in The Mayakovsky Tree knows I watch them, and the Vet cannot look inside my gorgeous mouth unless he sedates me.

Rumsfeld ordered the Zuni doll to bewitch the cows and herd them out of the apartment: "The other side of the coin of not acting against the moon -- in the event that the moon posed a serious threat -- would be that you then suffered a serious loss, and you're sorry after that's over. It's that kind of a evaluation one would have to make."

The doll somehow understood him. Gimp in obsessive adoration of its magus, the doll rattled in a hissyfit wobble and pushed the enchanted cows out of the apartment.

"Shimmy, you are probably too young to remember those glass boxes," Rumsfeld, the Prince of Darkness, said. "But they used to have them at all the gas stations when I was a kid."

I licked my left haunch, then listened to make sure the dogs on the third floor were not exploding down the stairs for their morning walk. After Rumsfeld left -- he finally was walking out of my apartment! -- I would eat dirt from the plants in the South Forest of the apartment before Tony and Shelly wake up. Or spread my haunches and drop a load, inexplicably, in the far corner of the living room.

Rumsfeld was going away. I watched him herd the cows down the stairs with the sick and bloodied Zuni doll that once belonged to Karen Black.
"Wear-and-tear, sickness, and death," I said, "are the effects of an absent life, not an ontological curse. It is not death that is frightening, Rumsfeld, but the mortifying control of an elected dictatorship that kills us daily -- the denaturation and wasting of our living forces."

The Secretary of Defense called back to me: "The future is not necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"I have too much life to bother myself with worries about the Pentagon while I'm still exhausting my passions," I said.