My Life in Limbo: A “Documentary”

“Post break-up, day seventeen. The air remains thick with frustration as well as the rotten scent of old garbage that needs to be taken out. Both camps seem to promote an ever-increasing distance while portraying to the outside world that the situation remains okay. The indigenous peoples of the fuck-my-life tribe remain unaware that we’ve managed to interpret their muted language.”

I explode into the apartment, catching only Fat’s last two sentences as her voice travels from somewhere beyond my line of vision. This phony documentary crap needs to stop immediately. My keys scratch the hall table with a forced landing and with the bowling skill of John Goodman, my gym bag travels recklessly down the hallway. It lands at the base of the scratching post and there it shall remain until I kick it nearer the laundry pile.

Fat’s glowing green eyes stare as I make my entrance into the kitchen, but the obese cat persists with her natter. She sits on the counter eyeing Ex-Boyfriend who’s watching a movie on his computer – oblivious to her monotonous droning. It is unclear as to the length of time her voice has granted sound to her observation. If I were to venture a guess, I would suppose she’s been going on for about seventeen days.

“Houseflies become abundant as both camps neglect showering and housework. They’ve silently entered a competition to establish their alpha standing through stench and decay. The local housecat grows increasingly despondent, and considers stooping to the level of using the bathtub as a litter box.”

“Fat, if you so much as joke about pissing in the tub again…”

“Calm down, boss. You know I avoid places where your gross naked body has been.”

This is true. The places she knows about anyhow. I pat her tiny head and then scratch behind her ears. My stomach rumbles, offering a silent threat that it will make my life absolutely miserable unless I fill it with some kind of carbohydrate.

A thunderous purr comes out of the feline, and her eyes close for the next few seconds until I stop petting her. “I’m just tired of all this transition business, boss. I know you are too. Normal life is impossible until he moves into his new place. This isn’t breaking news to you though.” She eyes me knowingly.

Despite my best efforts to withhold my emotions, a heavy sigh propels out of my lungs. I shoot a tired look over to my – for lack of a better word – roommate.

“You guys walk around each other like you’re both wearing inner tubes around your waists. Tell me how you seem to think this is okay.”

The plastic bag of bread crinkles as I take out two pieces and pop them in the toaster.

“We’re not walking around each other, Fat. It’s the situation we’re trying not to disturb. He’s here for another three weeks and we’ve agreed that we’re going to handle this like grownups.”

“And freezing each other out is the way to do that? We’re all living in limbo here. On a side note, I’m going to take it as a compliment that you didn’t wash your hands between petting me and handling food. Thanks.” Fat’s face leans in when I take out the butter dish. Delight warms her eyes. I flick her wet nose and a paw goes protectively to where she got hit.

“Uh… you’re welcome?” It is gross that I hadn’t considered that. No wonder her hair ends up in my food. That’s my epiphany for the day. There’s always at least one.

I peer into the toaster and see the bright orange lines turning my bread light golden brown. The decade-old appliance buzzes with age. “Breakups are weird, Fat. There’s no definitive how-to manual to deal with things. There should be though. I could write it…” My focus briefly turns inward while I consider the idea.

“Sure. Yeah. It could serve a dual purpose: how to survive a break up while simultaneously decorating your house as a pig sty.” Fat’s tone changes from a winning sales pitch to a balking jerk. “Penning a stupid advice book that won’t sell is one way to go.” Fat’s gaze slips back to the butter with longing.

“And the other way to go would be…?” The toast pops and my skeleton almost bounds out of my flesh. Even though it was expected, I’m still surprised.

“Get a limbo stick and make the best of the situation, of course. It would be great footage for my documentary.”

Still Waters and Mud Puddles

“I peed on that pillow that’s been under your head for the better part of an hour.”

As if spring-loaded, I bound off the couch; my state of relaxation brutally murdered by the foul words from the feline. Now on the offense, my slapping hand is at the ready, twitching in anticipation of striking the obtuse cat. At this moment I’m certain I’m about to make Zsa Zsa Gabor proud.

“Put those arthritic digits away. I’m fibbing.” Fat jumps onto the coffee table and sticks her head into the empty potato chip bag. Her words mesh with the rustling of the foil, “You were playing possum long enough, I needed to get a show of life out of you.” She backs her face out of the empty snack bag, “What’s rattling around that old bean bag of yours that keeps you so statuesque?”

Slowly and cautiously, my slapping hand lowers. It’s a good automatic reaction to have, but I worry that one day it won’t be so easily controlled. The slapping hand has calmed to an inquisitive state and it grabs the teal couch pillow tentatively. In an uncharacteristic show of bravery, I bring the pillow to my nose and take a quick whiff. No signs of ammonia must mean the grey bitch wasn’t lying about fibbing. This pillow is sans cat pee — she’ll live to annoy me another day. Still, I toss the pillow to the far side of the couch for comfort’s sake. My knees buckle and I flop on the sofa. I recline, not finding zen comfort now that I’m aware my movements are being tracked by unblinking green eyes.

“Just thinking, Fat.” I stare up at the ceiling. What was I thinking about? Everything and nothing all at the same time. Unimportant things that carry the weight of the world and important things that are easily dismissed. I was thinking about moving and staying and/or becoming a roaming gypsy. I think about transporting anchors in wheelbarrows. I start thinking about tea on Sunday mornings. Spending hours telling stories out of my fingers; inventing people and places that don’t exist outside of my head. I think about owning a charmingly strange bookstore with my best friend that isn’t lucrative by any stretch of the imagination, but is one damn good time. I think myself into a strange silence and I don’t even realize until–

“You’re doing it again. If you’re not going to share, just stop. You’re acting freaky.”

I roll onto my side and see Fat sitting on the table licking sour cream and dill crumbs off her paw. “What kinds of things do you think about, Fat?”

She finishes licking the remaining salt off her foot and sets it on the table. “Important things, obviously.”

“Like what?” I know this is a loaded question, but the one thing about not sharing a brain with anyone else is you have no idea what messages their synapses are firing. “What kind of evolved thoughts go through your little cat brain?”

“You know how I love visualization; I think about taking classic saying and breathing life into them. For instance, I literally desire to give somebody butterflies; they’d be dead of course – the butterflies I mean – you know I love to pounce on those things. Not that you let me outside anymore.”

“Not that I ever did. You must be thinking of a former life.” For all I know she was found pouncing on moths in a field before she was brought to the S.P.C.A.

She ignores me to continue. “I’ve also been thinking lately about the great gas mileage you’d get on the highway to hell.”

Laughter takes me by surprise and I start to cough. Once I can breathe comfortably I have to ask, “How do you figure?”

She shrugs as though the answer is obvious, “It’s all downhill.”

I reach over, lifting Fat under the ribcage and put her down beside me. “I’m going to tell you something I don’t say too often; I fucking love you, Fat.”