Weekly feature by: Patrick Hyde
It is Monday. Three weeks ago I came to the realization that my girlfriend’s cat hates me. I’ve been dating her for just under a year now but I finally put the pieces together and arrived at this undeniable truth. I can’t go straight to her with this information; that is exactly what the cat wants. He conspires to drive a wedge between us and, ultimately, he wants me out on my ass. I would not be surprised if this beast has sabotaged relationships before. Emily’s been cagey about her break-ups and now I think I know why.
If I plead my case she will think I’m paranoid, delusional, and jealous. No, I must approach this conflict with restraint and cunning. I will build my case slowly, until my evidence is such that she would be hard-pressed to deny the validity of my claim. The only way I believe this can be accomplished is through the creation of a journal. I will meticulously log all incidents in which Twinkle-Toes exhibits his true, insidious nature. Consider this Entry 1.
It is Wednesday. Work was terrible and I could write at great length the frustrations of the day but that would be beside the point. This is about Twinkle-Toes and he has proven capable of manipulating my already foul mood to his advantage. I get home from work about 8:30. After I cook Emily and me some chicken and dumplings I sit in the easy chair with my Kindle. As much as I want to lose myself in the book I cannot for I feel an undeniable presence boring into me. I look up and there to meet my gaze is Twinkle-Toes. Soon I cannot go more than a half-page without checking to see if my relentless antagonist is sizing me up. He always is.
It is Saturday. Emily is at the store with her friend and I am at home drinking a beer on the couch and watching Starship Troopers, though I have seen it many times before. I forget about Twinkle-Toes almost as soon as Emily leaves but he does not forget about me. After a far-too-hot summer we are rewarded with one of the first truly cool days of the season and it is crisp and gray outside with the air smelling faintly of rain, and I am wearing my favorite fleece for the first time since April. My muscles ache slightly from this morning’s basketball game but the feeling brings more satisfaction than pain. I start my second beer and my head is buzzing nicely and the movie evokes pleasant memories from my youth and my spirits are high in anticipation of tomorrow’s tailgate with my sister and her fiancée. In this moment I am truly comfortable.
I get up for a snack. The fridge is barren and taunts me with its emptiness. Then I glance to the back and find my salvation. I grab the dish and head back to the family room as the first fat drops of rain begin to fall. It is the last of Emily’s pasta salad; a culinary tour-de-force of dark-meat chicken, fusilli noodles, rich mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs from her mom’s vegetable garden. It is simply divine.
As soon as I enter the room my serenity is shattered and once again I am at war. A sour odor soils the air and there on the couch that was moments ago my sanctuary is an unmistakable pool of cat vomit. Lightning flashes outside and my mind is consumed with rage. Oh where is the tranquility I had just enjoyed? Where is this damned CAT? I collect myself and breathe deeply, setting the pasta salad by my beer on the coffee table as the rain starts to fall in earnest.
It is not so bad, I just need to get the cleaning supplies and soon- for the second time in a minute my heart stops. Emily had the cleaning supplies in the backyard shed last night. I turn my head slowly towards the window. There, next to the thrashing rain sits Twinkle-Toes. He is black like Putin’s soul and his poison-green eyes obliterate my senses. He lets out an enigmatic purr as thunder crashes in the distance. Here I inhabit the land of despair.
The lawn is completely saturated with water by the time I am outside and my feet are quickly soaked through to the socks. The rain blows directly into my face and stings, but this is not the warm rain of summer. This is the cold rain of an autumn storm and suddenly today appears to me not as a reprieve from the heat of the season past but as a harbinger of the bitter cold that lies ahead. I get to the shed find the cleaning caddy and make for the house.
The scene that I find upon return destroys me. It is a trauma unlike any other I have so far faced in my short life. I am soaked from the rain and the TV is roaring as the naïve and unprepared mobile infantry assault Klendathu in the first act of Starship Troopers’ bloody climax. Hapless marines are torn asunder amidst screams of agony and there on the table is Twinkle-Toes, nose deep in Emily’s signature pasta salad, my beer knocked over and dripping on the once clean carpet, and I am tapped into a cosmic sadness that predates the creation of humanity and will last until long after we are gone. The animal senses my stare and raises his eyes to meet mine, pasta clinging to his nefarious whiskers. For a moment all movement ceases and the sounds of the rain and the movie blend in the dim light of the autumn storm. As the world ends there will be Twinkle-Toes and I dancing in its ashes.
The conflict has escalated to complete psychological warfare and today I have been broken. I am on the retreat now. I do not know how much longer I can persist.
The day is unimportant. Double T is victorious and there is nothing left for me anymore. I can no longer call him by his true name. The shape of the letters and the sound of them all together has become an unspeakable curse in my mind, an incantation to some Mephistopheles. As this journal no longer serves a purpose other than the ramblings of a fallen man, I will be brief in the recollection of my final defeat.
Emily had been sick for the better part of the week and then went on a four day business trip. In other words, I went a long time without getting laid. It was the day after her return, and we had just got home from a nice but overpriced dinner at a sushi bar. We were a little drunk and she looked gorgeous in her red blouse and long skirt, and I lead her eagerly into the bedroom. As you might imagine Twinkle, I mean Double T was the last thing on my mind.
She undid my by belt and I took off her blouse. Her skin felt warm and I appreciated it more than ever after her extended absence. My pants and her bra soon joined the growing pile of clothes on the floor and the warm orange glow of a candle on the nightstand cut through the dark to reveal Emily’s pleading eyes and perky breasts.
Suddenly a hiss pierced the room followed by a sharp pain in my left butt cheek. I whipped around with an uproarious anger as the warm drops of blood emerged from the bite mark. Emily was laughing as I am cursing the wretched mother that whelped Twinkle-Toes. As I bound naked around the room I spilt my guts in a shouted monologue about the twisted machinations of this thrice-damned cat. When Emily realized I was serious she stopped laughing. She collected he-who-must-not-be-named in her arms and cradled him. What are you talking about? She asked, confused. Is this some joke? If so it is not funny. In my wrath I made an ultimatum. Me or Twinkle-Toes.
There is nothing more to say. He has taken everything from me.