Jack the Mystery Cat.
My cat has been upset lately. I could see it. His fur unkempt. Dusty cobwebs caught in his whiskers. I hadn’t found him napping in days. Only sitting in the driveway or on the back porch with his ears slightly tilted in opposite direction, staring squinty-eyed into the ground.
He usually darts away, under one of the neighbor’s cars, waiting for me to feed him dinner, but he didn’t flinch as I walked up the steps, coming home from work. I asked him, “Hey Jackie, what’s the matter, you soulless beast?” We have always had that type of relationship. Somewhat of a hate-hate thing. I’d feed him twice a day, every day, for over twelve years, and when he felt like it, he’d hop on my dresser and piss on my wallet. “Why so glum?”
He took a deep stuttered breath and sighed.
“Wow.” I said, and walked into my apartment. I left the door open behind me. “Listen Jackie, let me set my stuff down and maybe we can talk about it.” I tossed the keys in their dish and poured a drink. Normally, Jack would be howling for dinner, but not that night. He just sat there.
I left my shoes on the kitchen floor and went back out on the porch with a plate of cat food, my bottle and my glass. Jack ignored the food till I told him that if he didn’t eat, I wouldn’t give a shit if the asshole raccoons or the filthy opossums come and eat it for him, nor would I feed him again until morning.
The evening sky was clear and still blue and bright. The air was crisp, almost too cool to be out with only my slacks, t-shirt and socks, but I poured a drink, and then another. With no dinner for myself and after my day of mindless work, the drinks rested well in my belly and pickled my brain just right.
Jackie had eaten his meal after all and sat next to me afterward. It was back to staring blankly again. He didn’t give himself his normal post-meal tongue bath. Without taking his gaze from dead space he said, “Mind pouring me a shot?”
I hadn’t known Jack to be a tequila drinker, but then there was a lot about him that I didn’t know. And since I only drink alone because I am alone, sharing a drink sounded nice. “Sure.” I said. And I grabbed a glass for him and poured us both a round.
Jack knocked it back and asked for another. He said I had a head start and he wanted to meet me half way there.
I poured his drink and went to fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers. Balancing the plate on my lap was uncomfortable and I kept spilling crackers on the steps. The neighbor that lives upstairs came home from picking his wife up from work. He’s a friendly fellow. Always smiles when he says hello. I like him. He cheers me up.
Jack said, “Man, I’m all fucked up.”
“From the shots?”
“No. Not the booze. I mean I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s been over between me and my woman for some time, but we just kept hanging on and hanging on. Making ourselves and each other miserable. But then came the time when something finally broke. You know?”
“Yeah, that’s rough. Been there too.”
“It needed to happen. In the end, she called it. Not like before. She actually moved out of her apartment and didn’t tell me. I found out by accident when I ran into one of her old friends.” said Jack as he twitched his ear to shoo a fly.
“Shit man…”, was the most I felt I should say at the moment and I poured us a couple more. They started going down harder. But that’s tequila. “What happened?” I asked.
He stretched out his front paws far out before him and his ass and tail far up in the air. “Well fuck. I guess I ran around on her too much.”
“That’ll do it.”
“Yeah. I was a real asshole. But for fuck’s sake, I was a different cat back then. Nothing I can do to change that.”
“It’s been a true kick in the dick. I know in the end I’ll be ok, and so will she. At least I hope so. But at the same time, I’m so fucking lost. Don’t care about eating. Sleeping. Or if it’s raining or if the sun is out. But don’t you know it, I sure could use a good piece of pussy right about now. One of those soak the sheets kind of pussies. Fuck.”
We both laughed. What else could we do? I kept pouring us drinks and we kept drinking ’em down. The night began to get a little smeared. I tossed the cheese and crackers, knife and plate and all into the dumpster.
“Well Jackie, there isn’t anything I can tell you. It sounds like you are where you are. A little like being off on the side of the road with a flat and no spare because you didn’t get a new one that last flat you had. And for the time being, everyone else is going to keep on driving on by. How you’ll get yourself out of that fix, you’ll figure out eventually, but until then, it’s fucked.”
“Christ.”, Jack snickered. “I might could handle a couple more before I puke. What do you say, you dumb fuck?”
“I say the bottle’s not empty yet and we ought to keep pushing on.”
“Damn right.” Jack answered. “Damn right.”