I saw the whitest cat tonight.
It was sitting by the sidewalk as I limped my way home: still, elegant, motionless, with a bright red collar that I assumed contained information regarding its owners. Even when silhouetted against an also white picket fence, it remained a perfect study in both contrast and subtlety. I observed it for a while, feeling genuinely entranced by the beauty of its ivory fur and the depth of its viridian eyes reflecting the surrounding light. Despite my sorry state—and the urgency of finding a remedy to it—, I found myself glued in place trying to engage its gaze with a few strategically whispered words. No luck.
You know, people underestimate cats. Most think they are distant, selfish, and not as smart or caring as dogs. Those who think so fail to see that the reason for that smug aloofness is a simple one: we are not worth caring for. That’s why I think cats are, in most instances, smarter than dogs.
Paying me no heed whatsoever, its stare affixed to something or someone of greater significance than a simple passerby—even a dying one like me—, it began to lick its right front paw. After it was satisfied with the cleanliness level of its extremity, he darted off into the far reaches of the night with both grace and speed.
Please don’t hurt me.
I saw the ugliest half of a man tonight.
The reason for his running in the dark was somewhat obvious: his face was not only a collection of pockmarks—craters, to be precise—, and live, purulent pimples; it was also home to a crooked nose that leaned heavily to the left as if trying to get away from the man itself. To top it all off, a set of angular features that could easily belong in a gallery of cubist art made the light from the overhead lamps bounce harshly on every corner of skin-covered, pointy bone. I wondered how he could manage to get through the day when he was probably seen by plenty more people.
His body, surprisingly, was a lithe and expertly chiseled thing: beneath a tight, red track suit, muscles bulged and twisted rhythmically to the tune of the runner’s trot. I also couldn’t help but noticing an inexpertly concealed outline below the waist that swung left and right with each stride. It was big. I have never been into men—not that I judge or hate, mind you; it’s just that dick has never made my knobs turn—but I could see how the ladies (or the gents for that matter, one never knew these days) would sweat and and swear upon The Lord Almighty in the spasms and throes of each orgasm while being fucked by a chassis like this one. If the fuckee were to cover the fucker’s face with a paper bag, that is.
As a whole, this man-set looked to me like the work of two different sculptors with an evident conflict of interests that saw themselves forced, in the end, to make unavoidable compromises. As with the cat, I found it impossible not to digress. You could say I was in a state of shock, and shocked people are funny that way, they digress. I thought of Timmy Baen in high school, calling girls that sported a sizzling body but an ugly mug, shrimps: “Take the head off and you’re in for a treat.” In any case, the sole fact that the guy was able to run tinted my thoughts with—ridiculous, I know—envy. Compared to me, he had it more than made.
Blood, never seen this much…
I saw the fastest car tonight.
It was a Corvette, I think. Convertible. Red. I was approaching an underbridge when I heard the roar of its engine on the road above, a loud purr that even from a distance sent hot vibrating waves through my tattered body. When the gleaming car whizzed by in front of me, I was able to get a glimpse of the driver: a kid, barely in his twenties, wearing sunglasses and a trucker hat. I figured both constituted a fashion statement rather than something that served an actual purpose.
I tried to guess at the price point of the sleek scarlet toy and could not help but harbor a very tiny, but gnawing speck of anger towards the speeding little prick. When I was twenty—and all through my twenty-somethings—, all I could afford was a run-down Chevy with a broken taillight which I never got around to fix. At thirty, when the children arrived, I ponied up a decent amount of cash for a brand new station wagon, much needed by our four- whippersnapper situation. At forty three, I still drive that old thing.
Shelly is going to be pissed.
Before that crimson bullet was out of earshot, the boy laughed a shrill laugh and said (did he?): “That mechanical bull ain’t the only thang you’ll ride tonite, baby.” Then the car’s speakers burst into an explosion of drum beats and electric cues.
The wind carried the blaring music away and my weakening legs tried to carry me home.
Tonight I saw the whitest cat, and the ugliest half of a man, and the fastest car. Sometimes you know things; sometimes you don’t. And while I knew—in the back of my dazed ole noggin, away from the escapist paranoia and delusion of the shocked mind—that I would die, I knew not how a lot of other things would unfold.
The runner would kick the proverbial bucket while under the shower that followed his exercise routine. Heart attack, the doctors would say. An autopsy would be performed and the coroner would determine a faulty aorta—birth defect. “Such a pity, he was so young and healthy-looking,” Aunt Matilda would say between mouthfuls of rice cakes and spoonfuls of homemade casseroles. She would later on leave the funerary gathering and head to the front lawn in order to treat herself to a smoke—American Spirit, reds—and would find the whitest cat she had ever seen walking with a nonchalant and self-absorbed gait. The cat would not acknowledge her presence at all.
That night the cat would chase after a family of mice scouring for food among some trash cans and bins that were all set for the morning pick-up. The mice, being always faster than the cat, would prolong the chase until well into the pre-dawn light, leading the hapless feline away from his comfort zone. The cat, sadly miceless, would get lost.
After too much partying and even more drinking, a speeding, booze-fueled kid with sunglasses and a trucker hat would swerve hard at an intersection where a white but dirty-coated cat was idly licking its left front paw, its muzzle stained with the same red as the approaching car and bird feathers sticking out between its fangs. Smart as it was, the cat was again not nearly fast enough: it would end up a matted lump of organs and blood with a black tire track clearly printed on what was once its luscious snowy back.
The Corvette—or was it a Lamborghini?—would smash itself into the window of a small antiques shop. A Japanese katana belonging to a set of three displayed on a rack would fly on impact and slice through the windshield of the oncoming vehicle like butter. The sword also skewered the head of the drunk young man.
The cat’s owners—twin girls too reminiscent of those in that Shining movie—would tape over a hundred flyers on lampposts, telephone poles and every suitable surface in hope of finding it, to no avail. The cat’s name was Queen.
Three mice—out of the original batch of five—would die drowned in the muddy stream that ran through the back of the suburbs, not before one of them bit the eldest-by-two-minutes of the twins in the leg as she pegged one of the fliers on the back of a stop sign near a storm drain. The other two would mate and make more furries. Mice are resilient like that.
The twin would receive a dose of anti-rabies vaccine, but her frail body would be unable to react as expected. She would lie still in a haze of red and white, fondly remembering her cat.
Gotta make it home. Take a shower, maybe sleep a little. Then call a doctor.
I left the cat and the man and the car behind. I kept shambling on, thinking the night was redolent of death. Red death.