The cats in the back
won’t cut me slack
with their lazy playing all day.
Eyeing the butterflies
watching the blue jays fly
they don’t care what I say.
Unless I call, “Hungry?”
Or, “Want a treat?”
Or, call another cat’s name.
Then they come runnin’
and give me some lovin’
Until I feed them or go away.
We do not know the rules.
We suspect it goes something like this.
One of the housefloofs goes and pukes quietly. Their object appears to puke somewhere where it’ll take some time to notice, and not leave any clues to the puker’s identity.
We’ve found three such pukes over the last three days. “Someone puked in the living room,” my wife announces.
I check it out, like I’m doubting her report, right? No, I want to conduct forensics, clues like hairballs. But there’s nothing distinguishing about this puddle of upchucked kibble.
“I didn’t hear anything,” I say. Everyone who has an animal knows that each pet has signature sounds associated with their puking. They usually have a preferred place, too. This doesn’t fit any of our animals.
Did our animals bring in a guest floof to puke, to mess with our heads?
“I didn’t hear anything, either,” my wife said.
Of overriding concern when you have a puker is the source’s health. Is this the first sign of serious trouble or a one-time gack attack?
The second day was more concerning. One day is an incident; two days are a worrying coincidence. “Someone puked again,” my wife called out. “On my rug again. Why do they have to puke on my rug?”
“Maybe they’re sending you a message.” I checked out the vomitus. It was as undistinguishing as the first. Again, I’d heard nothing.
I looked around. The three cats were sitting there, watching, like spectators, you know?
Two of them appeared to be smirking.
Now there’s a third puke, except…
Hearing the noise, I rolled out of bed and stumble through the gray drizzle of six AM autumn light. I already guessed (because I saw Boo back in the bedroom and Papi sitting outside on the patio as I oriented myself and ordered, “Left foot, right foot, go forward,”) that it was Tucker, caught it in act.
Yes, indeed. This was a standard hairball.
Was it part of the game, or genuine illness?
Seeing me, he hurried over. “Meow?”
“I’m not feeding anyone,” I answered, guessing that’s what he asked. It was still just after six. I’d stayed up late writing, and I was going back to bed. As I climbed back between the sheets, I saw Boo, Papi, and Tucker watching me. Round one was over.
I wonder who won.
My wife – K – was on the other side of the room on her Apple laptop, grousing about the state of the world. News about Trump, COVID-19 (and something about lying), and his supporters triggered an angry explosion. “I’m tired of this. I have no sympathy for any of them today.”
I looked over at her. “So what K-con are you in?”
“Yes, it’s like DEFCON, you know, defense conditions that the United States employs. DEFCON 1 is the highest state of military readiness.”
Yes, she knew about them. I was in Air Force command and control for twenty years. She’d heard me talk about LERTCONs, DEFCONs, EMERGCONs too many times.
“Would K-con 5 be my normal level?” she asked.
“No, K-con 5 would be when you — “
Realizing I was walking myself into a trap, I stopped. I’d been about to suggest that K-con 5 would be when she was happy and easy-going. I’d been about to observe that she usually stayed in K-con 4, or maybe higher. Anyone who’s been married for over forty-five years, like us, knows that the other has moods. Hell, most people discover this about their partner in the first year, if not the first month, after marriage.
She realized what was happening. Her eyebrows went up, her warm brown eyes grew big, and a grin split her face.
Looking around, I jumped up. “What was that noise? I better go see.”
I hurried out of the room to the sound of her laughter. Yes, I’m a coward, but I’m no fool. If she’s in K-con 1, those nukes are armed and ready to fly.
Let her target someone else.
The glimmer of a character
the thread of a tale
fires up yearning
that maybe I won’t fail
another cup of coffee
and time spent offline
trying to hear a story
from people in my mind
Enticing and so wicked
dirty and obscene
the things I lust and cry for
make me feel unclean
stealing a little pizza
having a beer on the side
drinking in the darkness
furtively sipping wine
and the stars are still shining
and the world still turns
though I went off my diet
oh, the evil in me burns
Now I lay me down to sleep,
move your toes, I’ll attack your feet.
If I awaken before the sun,
it means my work wasn’t done.
And if I’m bored while your eyes are closed,
I’ll nip your chin and bite your nose.
Day comes, and brings the heat
The animals find a place to sleep
A place that’s theirs for a space
where they slumber without a trace
Night comes, and the air cools down
the animals stretch and rise from the ground
and claim the night as theirs to own
until the sun grows hot and sends them home
A ginger storm is rising in the house
stalking the air
chasing a pretend mouse
A ginger storm is in the room
with thundering paws
and a flash of zoom
A ginger storm has settled on the floor
soon his purr
becomes a snore