Monday, April 8, 2019

A Day in the Life

Eli T. Cat woke at approximately 3 a.m. She was not aware of the time, but she knew her human would be up soon. She jumped on his squishy ribs and made the noise. The noise made the human happy, and it was part of the essential barter she felt must be respected. Eli was a pragmatist.

The human might or might not respond to the ritual. Regardless, the price must be paid. Today she was in luck, the human woke up shortly after she offered her advance. The human went into the small room. The lights were bright and the up-high box was loud, but she didn't mind. Soon her efforts would bare fruit. She presented her anus for inspection, then jumped up to the uneven footing of her human's legs. She needed to use her claws for additional traction. Her human ungratefully hissed at her, but she knew this hiss was hollow. She gained her footing and began sniffing the human's torso.

After her human finished it's hygiene ritual it went into the quiet small room. It put it's extra fur on and returned to it's nest to apply it's paw fur. Eli loved playing with this paw fur, it dangled helplessly for a few moments, which gave opportunity for a well timed strike. The human would run it's high-up-paws on Eli's back before finishing it's fur application. Eli knew it was time.

Eli darted for the primary room. The human stumbled inelegantly to the food place. Eli waited on the near by perch. The human would place fresh crunches in one bowl, then run water over the squishy bowl of delicious. It would add more water to her fountain, and it was good.

Eli took a few bites of her squishy food, then turned her attention to the human. Would the human leave, or would it stay? Today the human left. Eli sat in the darkness, keeping an eye out for prey. Only the mostly still fuzzy balls were available today, but she knew one day they would skitter in prey-like fashion.

Later the human would return. The bright outside had not come back yet. The human took it's THIRD! layer of fur off it's paws and made it's greeting noise. Eli watched from her perch high above the human. She meowed an expectant greeting. The human climbed a few steps until it's head was just below hers. She presented her flank for worship. The human complied. Moments later Eli decided she had received enough adoration and she weaved her way back to the main room.

The human placed the glowing rectangle onto it's lap and began to stare at it. Eli grew bored and sought a hunt. The human scratched Eli's ears for a few moments, then the creature returned. The creature did not appear to be edible, but it was vexing! It darted across carpet, couch, and paw with impunity. It zigged this way and that. It ran up walls and across ceilings. Sometimes Eli could not reach it, but most of the time it remained a pounce away. It was an uncatchable prey, but she knew it would be back again later.

Eli returned to her perch. The birds began their song and she watched through the see-through wall as they fluttered to and fro. Eventually the brightness returned, and Eli fell asleep.

The human ran it's paw down Eli's neck and ribs. The human seemed to enjoy this ritual, and the sun was warm on her face. She let out a contented purr. The human went to the food place and retrieved some white sticks. The human would frequently share these sticks. Eli anticipated the human's habits and sat where it would return. The human picked her up, the presumption! Still, it had the white sticks. She sat next to it, expectantly. The human ate the stick, but left a mouthful of white creaminess in it's claws. Eli picked the morsel up and chomped greedily. The human kept it's paw under Eli's mouth, as if she would drop it!

The human ate another stick, and offered a mouthful to Eli. Eli lapped it up as the human withdrew it's paw. Eli dropped it in the folds of the human nest. She immediately reached a paw into the crevasse to retrieve it, but she was unable to pull it out. The human intervened to Eli's dismay. She bit at it's paw, latching on to the weird leg it didn't use to walk. The human offered Eli the cheese, and she took it again.

She decided it was time to hunt again. The only available prey was the human's fur-over-fur paws. The human knew to expect this, and it caught her up. Entangled in the human's weird not-legs, Eli found herself paw-up. Eli hated this position, and used every opportunity to demonstrate this to the human. The human didn't seem to notice. It pressed it's mouth into her belly, and onto her head. Whenever the human's not-legs would present itself she retaliated with claw and tooth.

The human released her. Eli returned to attacking the fur-over-fur paw. Eventually the elusive dot returned. She chased it around, following it's elusive pattern until she became bored. The dot eventually faded and Eli made herself at home on the human's nest. The human would periodically bother her with more stroking.

Eli decided to return to her nest in the sun, with the birds and squirrels. There she napped until the human made it's next move. Today the human went to the whirring room. There were many perches in this room that the human felt territorial over. Eli had not learned the rules the human kept here, but she decided the higher perches were rightfully hers.

Those perches had unstable and weird brikabrack in her way. She couldn't quite establish her nest there, even though it was prime real estate. She stood atop narrow branches of plastic noise-makers. She'd paw anything she could off these higher perches. The human appeared transfixed by it's whirring boxes, so she would be able to gain a foothold on the higher vista.

The clatter of the space-takers falling to the floor momentarily startled Eli, but the human was startled as well. Eli took the opportunity to establish her nest. The human quickly looked over to her and made a variety of noises. Eli did not care for those noises, she knew she must entrench her claim.

Invariably the human used it's not-legs to return her to the floor. The brickabrack would be reset and the human would return to it's whirring box. Frustrated, Eli bit his feet and darted back to watch the last vestiges of the bright see-through wall. Different birds sang their songs, and the squirrels hid away. Eli claimed the human's bright-time nest and napped contentedly.

Eventually the human scooped her up and carried her to it's dark-time nest. Eli took advantage of the human's warmth for a while, before stalking off for her evening hunt. Crinkley paper and jingly balls were distraction enough until she decided it was time to start the ritual anew.

Alone in the North Woods

I am a bit hesitant to post this. I feel like this blog is an effort to be transparent, but I'm afraid people might take this seriously. This short story (consisting of 4 paragraphs, that feels a bit grandiose) is an idle fancy. A fantasy constructed of negativity, not actual desires. Writing it out made me feel a bit better. My hope is reading it will help some other isolated soul feel less alone.

Alone in the North Woods

He takes highway 8 north past Laona, into the forests of northern Wisconsin. His red Corolla is paid off and reliable. He finds a side rode and he follows it around a bend. He sees no mailboxes out here. He will be alone.

He pulls off to the side of the gravel lane and opens the trunk. He retrieves his duffel bag, and his shovel. He walks with a measured gate, attempting dignity. He finds a spot with a few dozen paces between trees. He digs. He digs until he is exhausted.

He opens a bottle of water from his bag, and runs it over his hands. He scrubs them clean, then pulls out a folded towel, wrapped around something heavy. He dries his hands and drinks the remaining water. He puts the towel down next to the hole. He finds two envelopes in the duffel bag. One is a request and payment for whoever eventually comes across this, the other is for the police. He will leave this stranger with a choice. He doesn't want to be an inconvenience, to be demanding, even now. He puts the envelopes under a river-worn rock.

He takes the duffel back to the car and closes the trunk. He returns to his spot and stabs the spade into a mound of dirt on one end. He sits in his hole. He pulls as much of the dirt as he can onto himself. He unfolds the towel and places the gun on his chest. He hangs the towel over his head, using sticks to weigh the edges in place. He doesn't want anyone to have to see what comes next. The smooth barrel of the pistol is slightly cool against his temple.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How to disappear completely (OR: Selfish dick processes the death of a childhood companion)

I struggle with depression. When it's bleak I sometimes like to fade away, just to see if anyone notices. No one does. I think if I took vacation time at work it would be at least a month before anyone checks on me. The bank would notice I'm not paying my mortgage first, I think. Maybe there's some algorithm they run that would detect all my bills are not getting paid at once, triggering a foreclosure process - complete with clean up crew dispatch to protect their interest in the property. Something about the idea of an unfeeling bureaucracy dealing with my remains is comforting. But the point is it would be a while before anyone realized I was gone. Edit: I just realized this probably isn't true anymore. I have a weekly d&d group who would notice my absence in 5-14 days. Yay progress! (?)

I've put effort into correcting this; but there's a fundamental something I just don't get. It's why I think I might have Asperger's. Something about me puts people off. Something about people tends to put me off. I don't think it's something I'll ever fix.

One of my closest relatives is in the process of passing away. I should qualify that. We were very close as children. My summers were almost entirely coupled with him. We grew apart, made different choices that gave us different attitudes on life. It happens. Friday night he did something that killed him. He was still alive when someone found him Saturday morning. I had gotten the news early Saturday afternoon.

This man, who I looked down on for most of his life, had someone who cared enough to check on him in hours. I still firmly believe he was a deeply flawed individual; and the circumstances of his demise does nothing to refute that opinion. But in that one way, he was better than me.

A few months ago he hit me up, asking for help paying off a fine before it turned into a warrant; triggering a parole violation. He had built up a reputation in the family for asking for money. I didn't have the money sitting in my bank account, and his time table was tight. I suppose I could have pawned some stuff or taken a cash advance on a credit card, but in the moment I knew I wouldn't see the money again, and I knew he'd be back for more. I knew he would break another law, get himself in more trouble, and what I did wouldn't change that trajectory. I didn't think about how hard it must have been to ask me in that instance, after decades of not asking for anything from me. I didn't think about how alone he must have felt when I turned him down. I didn't see myself in him. That failure of empathy is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

I'll miss the 7 year old I swam, explored the woods, climbed the bluffs, and played on the train tracks with. Our relationship wasn't remarkable, but it was part of the foundation of who I became. I wish it worked the same for him.