Nature’s Gnarly Gifts

Merry Christmas, Master.

Merry Christmas, Master.

I was coming down the steps one morning and almost stepped on it.  A dead bird one of the cats dragged in.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Did that little dance with the pumping knees and wavy fingers.  You know, The Creepy Crawl.

What’s the deal with these cats?  Their heaping the dead up as gifts?  I mean, it’s a nice gesture and all.  But I don’t  dig dealing with the bodies.  I looked down a little closer to it.  What the …?  It was on some sort of tray.  It was an ink stamp pad, turned upside down.

It was Bugsy’s work.  He had gone up to the den, brought down a ink stamp pad, turned it upside down, then place the dead bird on it.  He went to all that trouble to make a nice presentation.  Frankly, it creeped the fuck out of me.  It looked macabre.  Ghoulish.  Made me think about Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.  Probably not the reaction Bugsy was hoping for.  I felt bad.  Still, it was pretty weird.  Disturbing really.  What kind of kitty cat was I raising here?  Martha Stewart or Manson?

At least this victim was dead.  Half a lizard.  Headless mouse.  Doesn’t matter.  Dust pan, broom, Trader Joe’s paper bag.  Quick crime scene clean-up.  It’s when either him or Louie bring in something that’s still kicking that things start to jump around here.  You won’t see two more worthless people dealing with calamity than my girlfriend and I.  Lot’s of impotent hand-clapping and shouting, taking turns to jump up on the furniture.

Meanwhile, the cats are taking turns to slowly torture another creature to death.  What kind of family is this?  Daddy may be passive-aggressive, but in a very subtle way.  You can’t say I modeled this behavior.

Living here off this little artificial lake there’s been all kinds of opportunity to interact with wildlife.  Mice, ducks, lizards, turtles, possums, racoons and bats, all pay us a visit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love animals, but there’s something about close proximity to the little critters that  makes me a little uncomfortable.  I’m from New York City.  We have squirrels, pigeons, and rats, and we’ve learned how to pretty much stay out of each others space.

That’s different than turning on the light and seeing a family of racoons in your kitchen making a midnight brunch.  One guy eating cereal out of the box, another one in front of an open refrigerator, peeling off slices of my jalapeno cheese.  Another using a can opener to get into my pork and beans.  All of them looking at me like “What the fuck do you want?”

“Uh excuse me!  I’m very sorry but the kitchen is closed for the evening.”

Nobody seems to care.  Maybe it didn’t register.  They’re looking at me, like I’m merely an irritant.  Almost like they know they could all take me.  Rip me to shreds with their Mutual Of Omaha claws and teeth.  They’re right.  There’s nothing I can do but back up the stairs and close the bedroom door.  They’ll leave when they get full or bored.  You have to just hope they don’t tear the place up too much before they go.  It’s like having a bunch of methed-up bikers crash your place.

My girlfriend called me one night.  This was before I lived with her.  Back when I lived a block away.  Anyway, she was all freaked out.  There was a bat flying around her house.  Makes sense, I thought.  Then I realized she expected me to do something about it.

“Oh.  Okay.”

I hung up, got in the car, and drove the seventeen seconds to her house.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do to get rid of a flying bat.  But I’m already not digging the visuals.  Seems like it could be something I’m not going to enjoy.  Too bad.  You’re the man.  You have to deal with this.  That’s why God invented you.

I went in and quickly looked around.  I didn’t see any flying bat.  I also didn’t see Lori.  She had barricaded herself in the bathroom.

“I paused Grand Theft Auto 3 for this!” I announced. “Where is it?”

She slowly opened the door.  She peeped her face through the crack.

“It was flying around the kitchen– then it flew upstairs.”

Oh great.  Now it could be anywhere.  Lots of nooks and crannies up there.  She edged a little out of the bathroom and flapped her hand.

“It went up there!  Get rid of it! ”

“Alright alright! Let me come up with a game plan here. Relax!”

I stood at the bottom of the steps and looked up the stairwell.  There it was.  On the ceiling.  Pressed flat.  Looking like one of the gnarliest, ugliest creatures ever invented.  I can’t do justice to how ugly a bat looks in real life, especially when they do the all flat thing.  It’s breathtaking.

“I see him.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s on the ceiling.  All pressed flat.”

She groaned at the thought.

I squinted to see him a little better.  Oh Jesus.  That’s bad.  How can anything like that exist?  On TV they seem at least semi-cute, with their little piggy noses.  That shit doesn’t carry over in real life.  I watched it breathe.  Even that made me sick.

Then it dropped.

Like a Stuka to a Warsaw suburb, it dove straight for me.   It happened so fast.  I had no time.  No time to stop myself from throwing myself to the floor in abject cowardice.  No time to contain the most shrill, scared-little-bitch scream that ever came out of a heterosexual man.   It was coming at me.  And all I could do… was freak.

Now, I’ve talked to some people and they’ve said that the bat might not have been going after me.  Just that that’s how they fly.  All swoopy and shit.  I don’t think it matters at this point.  All I know is one second I was looking at some evil creature with veined wings, the next one, it’s a  foot from my face.  I’m not sure how many people would’ve stood their ground.  Maybe some bat whisperer.

So I manage to peel myself off the floor enough to look around.  I can’t see where he’s gone.  Neither can Lori, because she’s doubled-over laughing.  Ha-ha-ha.  Okay, that’s it.  Laugh it up.  Yes, I screamed like a girl.  Ha-ha-ha.  It’s over.  C’mon.  Not that funny.

Apparently it was.   She was helpless.   I could see her launch into a new fit every time she replayed it.   I really wanted it to fly into her face.  See how she likes it.  I crawled to the phone and called animal control.  They said somebody would be by in 45 minutes.  We camped out in the garage waiting for them.  Lori occasionally busting up out of nowhere.

The damage was done.  She had witnessed me at my most chicken-shit.  All the tough guy stories would always be tainted now–tainted by her memory of me screaming like a little girl while diving to the floor.  Awesome.

The animal control dude went around the house with his lasso-on-a-stick, poking at pillows, and behind curtains.  Nothing.  That’s great.  We look like a bunch of liars, and the thing might still be hiding somewhere, waiting to make a break when The Man leaves.  I swore that there really was a bat, and that he was about to rip my face off and fill the wound with plague.

“Thing came right at me.”

“They sometimes just fly like that.”

We didn’t see anymore of the bat that night.  But that wasn’t the last of them.  The Winter of Bat Terror was only beginning.  We think a family actually moved in.  It seemed like every other evening there would be another one flying around inside the house.  You’d be walking down the hall at night and FLAPAWHAPAFLAPAFLAPA!   They would just bust out of cover like spooked pheasant.  Out from behind the laundry hamper and into your hair.  Holy pant-crapping surprise, Batman!   And every time, the shrill, high-pitched scream would escape as I threw myself to the carpet.

And if Lori witnessed it.  The laughter.  The shame.

I had a girlfriend, Bubbles.  She had a pet bird, name Myra.  If she let it out the cage to fly around the room, it would take every ounce of my male courage to not just drop to the floor and curl up in a ball.  Birds flying around like that, scare me.  I don’t know why it is, but it is.  And that was a pretty little feathered song bird.  Not a furry, fanged, warm-blooded, rabies and plague-carrying sky gargoyle.  So whatever original phobia I had with flapping creatures, it now took off exponentially.

After a while, we did manage to get down a routine.  If one suddenly appeared in the room, swooping back and forth, we would hit the deck.  Lori would cover herself in a blanket on the couch–in a little cocoon of safety.  Meanwhile, I would have to crawl on my stomach to open all the doors and windows.  Eventually, sometimes after an eternity of ducking and dodging , they would fly out.  I’d close the doors and windows.  Check my underwear.

One night I opened the garage door from the kitchen.  FLAPAWHAPAFAPAFLAPA!  Right at my face.  Yeeeeeeeeeee!  I hit the floor.  But this one is not content to just strafe me.  He is on me.  Like stink on shit.  He’s flapping here.  He’s flapping there.  I’m crawling, laughing, crying, screaming and everywhere I turn to get away, it’s inches away from my face.  It’s really trying to make a statement.

Meanwhile, Lori is a mummy on the couch.  She’s all wrapped up and not moving.   I’m almost hysterical.  Part cracking up and part flipping out.  I can’t crawl very fast because I keep rolling up into a squealing pill bug.

–Is this how I would have been on Omaha Beach?  I don’t think it tests well.

I can’t make it to the sliding glass doors.  I’m pinned down by a dive bomber.  It’s taken me almost a minute to crawl twenty feet from the kitchen to the living room.  And this thing is still right there, flapping away, everywhere I turn.

I decide to crash the cocoon.

“Let me in!” I shout, sticking my head under the blanket Lori is hiding in.  She’s got it tucked in underneath her and is holding on to it tight.  I can only get my head under.  It looks like I’m trying to take an old time photo of a locomotive or something.

“Let me in!”

“Get out, get out! You’re going to let it in!” she screams, and then…pushes my face out.

Oh, I see.  So that’s how it’s going to be.  Every man for himself, eh?  I’ll remember that, Missy.  No room at the Inn.

I finally made it to the sliding doors, opened them, and belly crawled out to the patio.  The thing was still inside, now just diving and gliding around the living room while  Lori was trapped on the couch.  Too bad.  Hard to enjoy your television programs all wrapped up in a blanket while a bat flies around you.  Yeah.  I’m sure glad I’m out here in all this wide-openess and having this big area of non-bat flying around me.

I gloated too soon.  Although the sliding glass doors were wide open, there was still a sheer curtain blocking its escape.  I went to move the curtain and the thing flew right into my hand.  Smack!  We were separated only by the flimsiest gauze, so I got a good palm full of the beast.  Enough to discern it’s fuzziness and heft.  Did not enjoy that.  At all.

You would’ve thought I had stuck my hand into a jar of cadaver snot by the way I recoiled in disgust.  My reaction was so violent that I made myself laugh.  Like I was watching a prank, but at my own expense.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeech!  I fuckin’ touched it!” I yelled into the house, “It hit my hand through the thing!”

This elicited a piercing scream from the mummy, which made me scream.  It’s a wonder the neighbor’s didn’t call the cops.  It had to sound like an ax murder.

Then just like that, it flew out and was gone.  There was a moment of silence, then we started busting up.  We laughed hard and strong and long.  Whenever we’d recall another moment, a new spasm.  As it turned out, that bat, for all its terrorizing antics, had made our Friday night a memorable laff riot.  Thank you, flying rat.

Shortly after that we found a dead baby bat behind the TV.  We figured that mama bat was trying to protect it, and thus the aggressive nature of her pursuit of my crawling and crying ass.  You see, kids?  It’s all a part of the wonder of Nature.

One evening, I was sitting in the den upstairs slapping some serious genius on canvas.  Just getting my abstract expressionist on.   Lori’s gone for the night.  I’m in my underwear, there’s a World War 2 documentary on, and I am painting one masterpiece after another.  Fuck Warhol and Kostabi, I was a one-man factory.   I toss aside the finished works while announcing their prices.  $1,700  $850.  $600. each, but I’ll let the set go for a grand.  I’m getting very rich that night.  It was now only a matter of connecting with the right buyers.

Then I hear something behind me, scratching.   One of the cats?  I turn around and see a white possum clawing its way down one of Lori’s dresses hanging in the closet.  It’s long rat tail running down the sleeve of the gown.  “Oh shit!”  I blur out the room.  I am gone, Daddy.  I slam the door to the den and go downstairs to call Animal Control.  I am not going to deal with that thing.

I get a recording, basically saying that if this has to do with a lost dog or cat, runaway horse, dead seal, or having a possum in your house, call back during normal business hours.  Shit.  I’ll have to call them in the morning.

In the meantime, I’ll keep the fucker trapped in the den.  I hope he doesn’t shred up my reasonably-priced priceless art work.  The TV was still on, and I didn’t put the caps back on the paint tubes, either.  They’re going to dry up.  Once more, events have conspired to stunt my greatness.  “Well, you always said, ‘Life sucks.’  This is just another example.”

The cats are out so that’s good.  They’re probably with Lori and her girlfriends having margaritas and nachos.   I cracked the door opened and look around, but I couldn’t see it.  Must be playing…dead somewhere.  I closed the door.  I hope it likes the Military Channel, because that’s all it’s going to get to watch tonight.

I went downstairs and turned on the TV.  Marines were blasting out Japanese soldiers out of caves with explosives and flame throwers.  Should I get my .22 and storm the den?  Just take the beast out?  Who am I kidding?  I have no stomach for that.  Bad-ass gangster, can’t even cap a possum.

After a while, I went upstairs to bed.  I was lying there for about twenty minutes when I heard it clawing at the den door.  Scritch-scritch-scratch.  Scratch-scritch-scritch.  Hmm.  Scratch-scritch.  It will stop soon.  Scritch.   Even animals get bored.  Scratch.

See?

Scritch-scratch-scritch-scratch-scratch-scratch…scratch…scritchity scritchity scratch scratch scratch!

Motherfucker!  I can NOT sleep listening to this shit all night!  It sounded a prisoner trying to dig out.  A demon trying to burrow into my soul.  Not the sleepy-time send off I want to have before tripping the light subconscious.  My sleep tends to be fitful enough.  I don’t need the sounds of vermin clawing the walls as a soundtrack.

I have to deal with this.  I need to TCB the scritch-scratch situation.  It’s two in the morning, and I have to evict a colossal rodent squatter from my beatnik art den.  I decided to build a corrida, some rodeo walls to run El Rato Grande through–on his festival-celebrating run out the front door.  I don’t want to chase this thing out of the den, only to have it run into another part of the house and hide.  I don’t want to lose sight of him.  So using couch cushions, ironing boards, pillows, big screen TVs, and suitcases, I rebuilt Hadrian’s Wall.

When I finished with this grand building project,  I reviewed the fortifications like Rommel.  I saw a weakness in the line right away.  The ironing board.  The pointy end created a gap.  A small one, but one a determined sapper with initiative could exploit.  Unacceptable.  I punched a pillow into the hole.  Okay.

Now I needed to bust in and clear the room.  I decided to enter through the second set of doors from the bathroom.  He wouldn’t be expecting that.  Besides the element of surprise, I was armed with a mop and a wicker basket.  The basket to stand in so the fucker couldn’t claw it’s way up my boxers.  When I told this story to my friend, Dave, he laughed.  “Dude! ” he says, “You made a wicker basket Kendo suit. ”

Pretty funny, I have to give him that.  Anyway, fuck him.  I was glad to have the mobile defense.  I could hold on to the handles and hop around the room.  Get close and poke at the possum with the mop.  It will be easy.

Well, this gladiatorial contest was not determined quickly.  For a while, I couldn’t get it to run out the room.  It would just rear up and start hissing and clawing, it’s red rat eyes on fire with hatred, blind rage and fear.  I’ve seen those eyes before.  Usually when I look at the toaster.

The nasty little bastard was scared, and I really didn’t want to hurt him.  I couldn’t go in swinging.  I just wanted to poke him along, down the little maze I spent forty-five minutes building–my two-story Habitrail.  Not such luck.  He wanted to go toe-to-toe with me, trading jabs.  Poke poke.  Hiss hiss.  I’m standing my ground. but so is he.  It had become a battle of wills.  A stalemate.

I need to get more aggressive.  I need to show this marsupial what the most dangerous animal on the planet is all about.   Make him think I’m going to get all Beverly Hillbilly on his ass.  Get some vittles on the pot.  Pick my teeth with his pointy tail.  I had to become the hunter.

I had to leave the basket.

Okay, that’s it.  I really have to sell this.  Here we go.  I hopped out of the hamper with a rebel yell.  “For General Lee, and Granny’s Possum pie.!”  I Picket’s charged him with my mop.  It worked.  His nerve broke and he ran.

I flushed him out of the den, and where did he bolt to first?  That first turn, made with the ironing board.  Right at the gap.  He hit it like a furry football thrown hard into the corner.  The pillow held and he turned.  Still pissed and hissing he took off down the stairs.  The corrida worked.  The possum  zig-zagged through it and ran out the front door.  Just as my master planning planned all along.

Victory!

It was almost three AM, and I was too tired to take down the wall.  I’d deal with it in the morning.  What craziness.

Well, I did it, I thought,  I took care of business and nobody got hurt.  A small success, shot-through with comic misadventure.  Just the type I seem to specialize in.

Lori came home early the next morning, before I took down the improvised bull run.

“What’s all this stuff?”

“You’re not going to believe it,” I told her, “Sit down.”

She laughed and laughed and laughed.  Somehow that made it all worth it.

Anyway, I’m grateful to all the little creatures that have brought so much adventure and merriment into my otherwise routine life.  Animals are awesome.  Even when they scare the fuck out you.

I’m beginning to believe the same thing about life in general.  It’s all how you choose to look at things.  So now I try to thank my cats for all the dead things they bring in to us.  I may not enjoy them, but at least I know their intention was good.  And it really is the thought that counts.  No matter how gnarly those gifts might sometimes be.

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Gulags and Kitty Cats

Just sitting here digging life.

I’m trying not to get into pacing and hand-wringing mode, but one of my cats, Bugsy, has been gone for a day and a half.  I’m worried that he’s gotten into a fight or been killed by a car.  Big tough guy scared about his kitty cat.  God, if people knew.  They must never know.  I hate this shit.  It’s my karma for what I did to my folks.  I just have to trust his little kitty higher power is looking out, and distract myself as best as I can.

I’m on-line with Dave, and we’re talking about Mikhail Dyomin’s book, The Day is Born of Darkness.  We both get a kick out of thinking about life in the Soviet Prison system.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because it was so brutal, that it makes our regular shitty days seem down right paradisaical.  Not like we need to look in books for examples of brutal living.  We both can draw on our own past experiences.  Dave a lot more than me.  Fucker was not just some dilettante dabbling in brutal, like me, but a clock-punching, licensed journeyman worker at it, most of his whole life.

Anyway, the minute he messaged me something about the book, I was on Amazon getting a collector’s quality copy.  Are you kidding?  Dudes that make playing cards out of pressed bread that they paint with soot and drops of blood.  Oh yeah.  If you’re a connoisseur of misery like Dave and I, you know you can’t beat the Russians.  They are masters of melancholy.  The average Russian store clerk lives a life sadder and more tragic than anything in Bronte, or Celebrity Rehab.  However, throw one them into a Siberian prison, and see what kind of gloom oozes out.  A high-grade, pharmacological-quality depressant.

I read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s, One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich, when I was a kid.  I loved transporting myself into a distant Siberian labor camp, and really imagining how awful it must have been.  I used to do that so that when it came time to go to school, I could trudge with the fatal resolve of a Soviet prisoner.  Perhaps stopping by the window to wonder, “How long will the desolation of the endless tundra haunt my dreams?  How long before a fire or friend?  Mocked by the raven, hunted by the wolves, my heart hangs freeze-dried on the barbed wire of 6th grade.”

I get up from the computer and walk outside to see if Bugsy is around.  I don’t go out there and yell “Bugsy! Bugsy! Bugsy!”  It seems too desperate.  I make my girlfriend do that.  Instead, I send telepathic messages that he should get his furry little ass home for some dinner and a nap.  Then I pray to St. Francis to protect him.  Why does he do this to me?  Is he so self-absorbed in Tom-catting around the town, that he can’t even check in and let us know he’s alright?

A bigger cat moved into the neighborhood recently.  A big blonde beast.  I call him Boris.  Boris the Beast.  Bugs and him have gone at it a couple of times now, and once he came home with a tuft of fur missing and a big cut across his nose.  Bugsy is all street cat.  He loves it out there.  I don’t blame him.  That’s where the action is.

Except for a family of raccoons, he’s had the run of the ‘hood all to himself.  Now this cat moves in, and I get the feeling that Bugsy is just looking for trouble with this bigger cat, to prove something.  Prove something to Boris, and prove something to himself.

I don’t know why I think that.

“Do you think he’s okay?” I ask Lori.

“He’s fine,” she says.  I scrutinize the timber in her voice for any hidden anxiety.  She seems confident.  I’ll hang on to that.

I go back on-line, Dave has cut and pasted the lyrics to No River To Take Me Home, by Neurosis.

Digging a hole so I can rest
No tears from no river to take me home
The stones in my way, roots to the core
Of a rising sun falling through
the wind to the soil

As my body leaves me
I cling to a tree in a dream
I’m screaming to you
Whatever comes through me I will be.

Well… that’s kind of downer, I think.  But, I don’t diss a good downer. It’s a good song to sing on the transport train north to the General Dispersion Center, where you get processed, and then sent to your separate time-share gulag resort.  A sad little ditty to croak while the other convicts gnaw on dried crusts of bread, and long for the wheat fields of the Ukraine, their bitter tears turning into frozen stones that roll off their dirty cheeks.

At least, Louie is hanging around close by.  He’s had a big week.  Killed two bats, and two mice in a 72 hour period.  Dave called it a serial-killing spree.  He really got his predator on.  It surprises me, because Louie doesn’t look like a killer.  While Bugsy is scarred, sleek and lean, Louis is puffy and fancy.  He has a tail like one of those feathers in a Musketeer’s cap.  His fur foofs around his neck, giving him a fancy collar like Sir Walter Raleigh.  I always worry that he’ll get picked on by the other cats for looking like a little dandy.  I’m pretty sure this little outburst of violence is him compensating for the fact that he looks like a sissy.

I don’t know why I think that.

I get a Hansen’s Diet Ginger Ale and sit back down at the monitor.  Lori is watching some reality thing about a bunch of Amish kids that leave the rez and head out to New York City.  Hoo boy.  That town tore me a new one, and I was a native New Yorker, and slightly more streetwise then a wide-eyed Amish bumpkin.  I can’t believe the producers are doing this.  Real life Hunger Games.  We have become the modern Romans, enjoying the spectacle of throwing Christians to the lions.  It’s absurd.

“Did you know there are Amish prison gangs?” I ask her.

She just nods.  She thinks I’m fucking with her.

“I’m serious.  Dave said when he was doing time in Pennsylvania, there was Amish dudes there who had been busted for cooking meth.  He says all lot of them started out cultivating weed, but later set up labs because they were more lucrative.  Of course some are going to get busted and go to prison.  Dave said they all hang out together in the joint, and whah-lah!  There’s your Amish prison gang.  Neat huh?”

“Amish.  Were growing pot and making meth.  Isn’t that against their beliefs?”

“Who knows?  Maybe if they don’t use electricity for like grow lights and stuff.  And I’m sure you could set up a meth lab without using demon electricity. You know, cook the dope down on hibachis and shit.”

She shakes her head.  I can tell she doesn’t want to believe it.  She’s got this idealized, cozy-comfy version of Amish people she wants to hang on to.  Doesn’t want to believe they can get fucked up like the rest of us.  Well, I can’t let this go.  Time to riff.

“Oh, what a quaint little store you have here!   What a beautiful hand-carved wooden rocking horse.   Heavens, such a lovely kerosene lamp, and look at these baskets!  The workmanship.  Can I take a look at that butter churner?  Oh, while you’re at it, we’d also like a 1/4 of Purple Buddha Sky and an 8-Ball of White Line Fever.”

She tries not to smile, but I saw.  I turn back to the monitor and don the headphones satisfied.  The Pod shuffles out some Billy Childish.  The Day I Beat My Father Up.

Dave has messaged.  He tells me he’s finished his latest post and want me to check it out.  I click over to WordPress.  I dig his work.  He’s got a lot of gnarly tales.  His blog is called The Sun Burns Cold.  He writes about a lot of stuff, but I especially enjoy the street stories, his adventures in the shooting dens, crash pads, rehabs, insane asylums, squat flops, jails, prisons, and half-way houses he’s gotten to visit.  You know, all the little stops along the happy journey of life.  He’s interspersed that life with seeing some of the most amazing live music, during a truly seminal era.

Dave chronicles that era well.  Boots on the ground reportage.  Intrepid war correspondent, in the middle of the shit.  His matter-of-fact style gives his stories an elegant sadness.  He’s a maniac, but a talented, intelligent, and insightful one.  He may also be a weensy world-weary.

From homeless gutter punk in Seattle to doing an eight year bit for robbery, Dave’s had a rough ride.  The needle and the drink insured he got his share of action and adventure.  Today he’s staying clean and sober, washing dishes in a restaurant, and writing.  Dave can write.  He’s a machine.  He’s up until dawn hammering it out.  It doesn’t matter what kind of bullshit sandwich his day has served him, he writes.  He used to put out a punk rock ‘zine while behind bars.

That tells me something.  Aside from having the talent, it tells me he’s got the disciple to become great.

However, a week doesn’t go by that he doesn’t suddenly decide to quit writing altogether.  Hell, me too.  I think that comes with the turf.  Nothing we write will make a difference.  Nobody is really reading it.  We suck.  Who are we trying to kid?  With everything we’ve revealed about ourselves, we’ll never be able to run for public office or be hired by a successful corporation.

At least that’s something good that’s come out of it.  We take turns talking each other down from the ledge like that.  Two alcoholics talking.

I know he can’t quit writing.  I mean he can quit, but he’s powerless to stay quit.  He’s a writer, regardless of his protests and denials to the contrary.  He actually writes me these missives on all the reasons why he’s not a writer.  Long, eloquent, well-formed treatises why.  They’re very convincing.  And really good writing.  I, on the other hand, can quit anytime I want to.  I just don’t want to… right now.

Okay, I kind of do now.  Seriously.  It just hit me.  Fuck, I’m the middle of this piece.  Okay, as soon as I’m done dealing with this shit, I’ll hang it up.  For good.  It really isn’t worth it.

Anyway, it’s good to have made a bro in Dave.  A fellow escapee from the mutant zoo.  I always look forward from hearing from him.  It doesn’t matter what kind of mood he’s in, because whatever it is, he communicates it well, and we always wind up sharing a laugh.  I enjoy that.  I can cut people all kinds of slack for their moods.  I’ve been known to get moody now and then.  Once or twice.  So I think I understand a little about the human condition.

Not from being one, mind you, but from reading about it in books.

If you are pissed off, I figure you’re going to be pissed off no matter what, at least for a while.  If I run in with pep squad outfit on and start clapping and fist-pumping a cheer to rally you, I’m just going to add myself to that list of things you’re pissed off at.  Fuck that.  I’ll hang outside the blast zone until the rocks and shrapnel pitter pat to a stop.  Then if you need help picking through the rubble for any valuables, I’m around, dig?

Too many people can’t stand to be around somebody that’s feeling bad.  They hurry and try to fix it, and when that doesn’t work, both people just wind up getting pissed at each other.  You have to be able to sit with someone’s misery, hurt, or pain.  Just be there with them.  As much as you might want to squirm out, you sit there and share it with them.  Let it run it’s course.  If you allow them to fully express what’s bothering them, and offer no resistance, or get defensive, they wind up coming up with answers on their own.

The fact that you didn’t run off when things got un-fun speaks volumes for your commitment to the friendship.  Then everybody can cheer.

I hear a scratching at the door.  Oh, you little fucker!  If I wasn’t so happy to see him, I would kill him.  Louie’s happy to see Bugs, too.  He is burying his nose in Bugsy’s ass.   I don’t know what I think about that.  Bugsy heads to the kitchen.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  Chow time.

I have to go through this whole big ritualistic production to feed him.  First, I have to get him a clean bowl.  He doesn’t like it when there’s old dry cat food still in the bowl.  It has to be in a clean bowl.  I also have to make a big deal about shaking the bag, and loudly sprinkling the new dry food.  That gets him figure-eighting between my legs.  They I have to open a new can of wet food, making a big deal about popping the lid.  I have to fork the wet food into the dry and mix it, but just a little.  He doesn’t like it too mashed up.  Seriously.

If I leave out any of those steps, or say, just spoon out some wet onto some old dry, he’ll just look at it, then look up at me, and keep looking.  The look says it all.  “So that’s it?  Just shovel out some shit and throw it down?  Like I’m some kind of animal?”  He’ll wind up eating it, but with that neck-rolling, shoulder-shrugging attitude.  Major guilt trip.

Tonight I don’t mind putting a towel over one arm, using the china, the silver, letting him smell the cork.  I’m just happy he’s back.  I watch him and Louie tuck into their bowls with the satisfaction of an indulgent Jewish mother.  He has a new scratch, but he’s okay otherwise.  I feel a big weight lift.  Thanks St. Francis.  Good looking out.

After they eat, I go back to the computer.  I could hear them rough-housing upstairs.  Big fucking racket.  It sounds like they’re dragging a couch down the hall.  Now they’re building shelves.  Big crash.  I think that was the vacuum cleaner coming down the stairs.  Yeah, it was.

“Hey you two! Fucking cool it up there!”

They love to go at it.  Just for fun.  Just fighting each other for the sheer joy of it.

Hmm.

I start reading Dave’s new piece.  It’s a prison one.  My favorite.  This one’s about when he played bass in a band while he was locked up.   That is so punk rock, I can’t stand it.  Life is good.

We never do anything bad.