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.