Backslide

They finally made it over the hump. Stay at home policies were being relaxed. Businesses were re-opening. “We’re striving to return to normalcy,” the governor, the mayor, and anyone else who was anyone said. Some were talking about parades and national holidays, “To stimulate the economy.”

“I’m looking forward to normal,” he told his wife.

“I want to go dancing,” she said.

Both wondered, is it safe? The government said it was. Maybe they’d wait, maybe…

Reading the news…Jesus…”It’s like the same thing everything day.” The weather made him feel foul. He felt cold. The sun felt weak. The day seemed shorter. What the fuck, he wondered, than attributed it to his dark moods. It’d pass in a few days.

The next day brought the awful news. He checked the numbers and saw an increase to cases. He groaned. “No. Christ, I hope it’s just a blip.”

His wife, reading something on her Mac, said nothing.

Sullenness settled on him. God, he was so looking forward to normal, to getting out of the house, to walking down the street, and then, on the whim of a smell – a burger, fried onions, whatever – to walk into a restaurant, any restaurant, damn it, and order whatever meal he wanted, and have someone bring it to him, and pay them money without worrying about their breathing and their distance and their health. Plus, yeah, he loved his wife, but five weeks of isolation with just her had seared his sanity.

The news continued. He’d heard it all before. “What the hell.” If his mind wasn’t going, then the news was exactly what they’d heard before, word for friggin’ word. “You hearing this?” he asked his wife.

Without looking up from her laptop, she said, “Hm mmm.”

Which, what did that mean? “What’s for dinner?” he asked, and then joked, “Want to go out?”

“I was thinking that we’d have pizza and a salad.”

“We just had that.”

His wife looked blank. “When?”

“Last night, remember? We joked about it being our victory pizza? I opened a bottle of wine?”

Her eyes widened as he spoke, and then she rolled them in that irritating, contemptuous, dismissive way. “Is this another one of your jokes?”

“You seriously don’t remember?”

“We didn’t have pizza last night.”

“Then what did we have?”

“We had black beans salad.”

“No, we didn’t, no, we didn’t. That was the day before.”

He stood. “I’ll prove it.” He stormed to the freezer. The pizza would be gone. There’d be no pizza in there because it was the last one they had on hand. They’d joked about that, too.

But there was the pizza, a Newman’s own.

“No fucking way,” he said, throwing the pizza back into the chest freezer. No fucking way.  As a second verification, he went by the wine storage and confirmed, there was no open bottle. Like, it had not been opened. He checked the recycle bin for a bottle, just in case — he didn’t remember finishing the bottle but maybe she’d had some — but there wasn’t an empty wine bottle in the bin. Passing, he saw the cake.

He’d eaten the last piece as dessert, after the pizza. Victory pizza, victory wine, victory cake. Moving slowly, he slipped back down the hall. It hit him as he returned to the office and sat down at his computer. They were going backward in time. If he was right…he couldn’t be right.

But if he was right, they were going to relive it all again, in reverse.

“Did you find the pizza?” she asked, a smug tone to her voice.

Or, he corrected, he was going to relive it all again in reverse. She seemed completely oblivious.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” she said.

He covered his face with his palm. With a swallowed sigh, he wondered, how far back could he go?

Infloofmation

Infloofmation (floofinition) – Facts provided or learned about animals.

In use: “Living with an animal provided people with infloofmation, but didn’t necessarily make them animal experts. They often learned wide gulfs of differences usually existed between animals, even when they were of the same species.”

— National Floofographic Magazine, Floofuary 32, 2009.

Day Eight

Locked away, he had time to do things that he’d always intended to do. First would be to learn to communicate with the cat.

Yeah, he wasn’t crazy (so he told himself, trying to sound convinced). He thought he and the cat had a special connection. The little feline (it was little then, in the beginning, not so little now, relatively for a house cat – twenty-three pounds) marched up to him on the street and meowed like Whitney Houston singing “I will always love yooouuu,” bestowing the cat his name, Houston (because it was a male). It was like true fidelity from then on.

Houston was everywhere with him, monitoring his bathroom, trying to steal food (the lovable little thief) with his big white mitts, bolting across rooms and up walls (swear to God!). Now, aged three, Houston had settled into being a more dignified feline. Cagney (his name, distant relative to James, the actor) (he always used his last name, disliking his first name, the unobtrusive, forgettable “Jack”) thought that if Houston could talk, he would sound pretty close to James Earl Jones. From there (and the looks that the cat gave him), he’d decided that he and the cat could communicate, like, telepathically.

Engaging in an effort every day since he’d been self-isolated — this was day eight — he sat the cat in front of him and sat down. “Houston. Look at me. Look into my eyes.”

Although he appeared sleepy (it was time for his pre-nap nap), Houston did as told.

“I’m going to speak words to you. I want you to think them back to me. Do you understand?”

Cagney listened for a response. Yawning, Houston seemed to try to wake up to participate.

“I know you understand me. I know how smart you are.”

Thank you.

Cagney blinked. “What? Do you — ” Had he heard that? “Did you say, thank you.”

I did. You heard me.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Cagney stood up and spun around. He’d only half thought of what would happen next. Like how was he going to prove it? How was he going to prove it?

He stared down at Houston. Houston watched him with interest. “So you hear me, right, Houston?”

Yes, I do, Cagney.

“Okay, okay, I need more than that. Nod your head, nod your head if you understand me.”

Houston nodded his head.

Cagney jumped up and down laughing. “Holy shit. Holy she-it. I did it! We did it. I got to — where’s my phone? Where’s my cell? I gotta video this. Where’s my cell? Where’s my cell?”

Blue eyes bulging, Cagney scanned the room and skittered off. “Must’ve left it in the bedroom. Don’t move, Houston, stay right there, I’m coming right back.” He was out of the room and accelerating, sliding on the floor, and shouting over his shoulder.

Ears forward, Houston watched Cagney disappeared. He’d done it. He’d managed to lower the human’s defenses. Next step would be to take control over Cagney’s mind.

With his defenses down, it’d be as easy as catching a bird.

Floof Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Floof Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (floofintion) – Hard floof rock (flock) group formed in California in the 1960s, known for experimental, floofedelic sound.

In use: “Floof Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s album, We’re Only in It for the Kibble, satirized pet ownership, focusing on cat and dog owners, lampooning people who consider their pets to be their children.”

Today’s Theme Music

Dreamed about a Chev. Corvette last night. My Dad and I were in it. I was driving it first. We stopped at a store. People complimented us on the car. I told everyone that it was his, and most people said, “Yes, I had that impression.”

I’ve had similar Corvette dreams before, but it put a Corvette song in my head. Prince’s 1983 song was “Little Red Corvette”, but that’s what came to mind this morning as I was thinking about the dream.

I vividly remember hearing “Little Red Corvette” while stationed on Okinawa. (I was assigned to the 603d MASS on Kadena AB, 1981-1985.) We’d gone to McDonald’s on a whim because we were going to have some corn soup. Standing outside in sunshine afterward, “Little Red Corvette” was playing on a car radio beside us. We were talking about going to the American Bakery for dessert. It’s a strangely vivid moment in life.

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