Climate Change and its Influence on I.Q.

“It’s possible that you might just be the most stupid human ever.”

Fat, lazily flopped in front of the open patio door, stares with absolute impatience as she watches my movements.

I sidestep twice to the right and pause. Then sidestep to the left and pause. And back to the right.

“Believe me, Fat. I would much rather sit down.”

“So sit.” Fat tries to elongate her body even more so body heat can’t build up in her armpits. “It’s not a leather couch; you won’t stick to it.”

I pile my frizzy hair on top of my head with my hands and expose the top of my sweaty back as I shuffle back again. “The fan, Fat. If I don’t stay in front of the cool air, I’ll die.” I shoot a glance to the window – it’s lethal for such a beautiful-looking day. I groan and look down at the feline. “I’m melting.” The words croak out of my mouth.

“I guess that answers the question as to whether or not you are a good witch or a bad witch.”

“Huh?” My arm swipes across my moist hairline. To my knowledge, I’m not either of those things; I’m just a girl sweating to death in her apartment.

“Nothing.” Fat’s voice becomes a mutter, “Can’t even get a Wizard of Oz reference. Stupid human.”

“What’s that?”

Fat abandons any idea to repeat herself and gets back to her original criticism. “Christ, Boss. I can’t believe I need to say this, but one of those buttons above the display screen will actually stop the fan from swinging side-to-side.” Fat waves a paw delicately in front of her face in an oh-good-gracious-this-heat-is-too-much kind of way. “On another note, I appreciate how considerate you’ve been with putting ice cubes in my water and leaving frozen water bottles tucked into my bed.”

I’m not too busy fiddling with the buttons to hear her appreciation. I’m sure my face brightens like neon at the acknowledgement.

“I can be thoughtful sometimes…”

“It’s not an all the time thing though. Almost makes me appreciate your tenderness because it’s rare to bear witness to it.”

It doesn’t occur to me to be offended by her statement.

Fat’s head droops to connect with the floor. “You going to go to the gym today?”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” I throw a victory fist into the air when I finally figure out which button makes the fan do what I want. “Nope. Too hot for that.”

“You’ll be writing then?”

I flop on the couch and fold my shirt up so my sweaty stomach exposes itself to the humidity. “Too hot for that too. Productivity ceases when the weather becomes sweltering. That’s got to be a law somewhere.”

“I fell asleep for a while on the balcony.” Her green eyes narrow with accusation, “You did go to work today, right?”

“Pfffft,” I dismiss her question with a don’t-be-preposterous expression. “Obviously. They have air conditioning there. I’m looking to see if we can move in to an empty cubicle over the summer. It might be cramped, but it would be worth it.”

“Well at least your productive in some respect.”

“Oh!” My exclamation jostles the good doctor unexpectedly. “And I ate three-quarters of a watermelon this afternoon.” I beam and look at Fat’s unamused expression. “In one sitting,” I prompt as though she’s not recognizing the triumph.

“That’s not productive.”

“It’s impressive though, right?”

I hear dull thudding sounds, and lean over the couch to see Fat hitting her forehead against the carpet.

“We need to move to a cooler climate. An increase in temperature leads to a decrease in your I.Q.” Thud, thud. “Stupid human.”

Both Personalities and a Mountain of Drugs

“Whatcha got there? Groceries for the week?”

Pinched in between my thumb and index finger is a white paper bag with a pharmacy sticker sealing it shut. “You can’t be serious. How does this read as anything but clinical?” I tear into the bag with vigor that drops a small box of maropitant citrate tablets and a bottle of sulcrate suspension on the ground. Another pill bottle, small box and liquid administrators land on the counter.

Fat hustles over to sniff the box of tablets. “This is like the best piñata I’ve ever seen.”

“Don’t. Those aren’t for you, Fat.” I swipe both fallen meds off the floor.

She frowns. “I just want to bat them around a little. I like that the pill bottles sound like maracas.”

Out of habit, I look at the wall where a calendar used to hang. “What’s with the references? Is it Cinco de Mayo?”

“What’s the deal? Finally go see a shrink that is able to prescribe medication to you over the table?” Fat’s tone is a hybrid of judgemental and hurt.

Frustrated, I puff out the air in my lungs to quietly vent my annoyance. “You never listen to me, do you? Mutt has pancreatitis and this cocktail,” I display the drugs like an old school Barker Beauty, “is his new best friend.”

“I thought I was his best friend,” Fat mumbles to herself as she leaves the kitchen to jump onto the office chair.

“Huh?”

Fat scowls. “Was I talking to you? No. I was talking to myself.” Her eyes narrow into an angry squint, “Mind your business, bitch.”

“Christ, Fat.” My hands lift up as I resign from the conversation, “Calm down.”

I grab Mutt’s epilepsy medications and add them to the new arsenal. This dog’s collection rivals any pharmacy. I read the labels and arrange them into an order that will help me administer them properly.

It’s a damn math problem: Two medications have to be taken every eight hours but one on a full stomach and one on an empty one. Two meds every twelve hours on a full stomach, another one first thing in the morning also on a full stomach and the last one every nine hours. In making sure Mutt gets all the required medication, solve the rate of next-morning pleasantness. If this were actually a math problem, there would be grey eraser streaks all over the place. Thankfully it’s a take-home test and I have time to figure it out.

“You look like your mother when you make your thinking face.”

The air in my mouth pushes from my left cheek to the right as I concentrate; I turn to the side and see that Fat once again has an approachable demeanor.

“Henry Jekyll, you old sod. How are you?”

“That’s Doctor to you.” Fat actually breaks out a smile as we fall into the familiar routine.

“My mistake.” I run my fingers through my hair, and though I wrestle with knowing how this will turn out, I can’t help the words that come out of my mouth. “Can I ask you something?”

Fat’s forehead rises with intrigue. “Are we turning this into a session?”

“No.” My right hand shoots up like I’m a traffic cop forcing cars to slam on their brakes. “I’m just spitballing here, but,” just thinking about it makes my chest tighten, “where does one draw the line when it comes to Mutt’s health?” My throat becomes a desert that words have to cross; they barely make it. “This isn’t exactly a lifestyle choice.” I nod with my head to the collection of medications sitting on the counter.

“Maybe not for you.”

“Fat.” The heaviness of her name brings her around to answering my question.

“Angel of Death is the role of a lifetime for you,” Fat sees that I want to interject. “Let me finish. Providing you don’t have to pull the cord, as it were, on one of the few people or animals you’re emotionally tied to. Anybody else, fuck, they’re dead the moment they have the sniffles.”

I look at the backwards clock, time to go grab Mutt from the vet. “So what do you suggest I do?”

“Easy,” Fat’s smile changes from sweet to sociopathic, “Let me be the Angel of Death.”

“Edward Hyde. Welcome back.”

Office Hours: Afterlife Preparation 101

“Wake up from that nightmare, moron. I have something important to tell you.” Fat could work in a piercing studio; she almost puts a hole through my nostril when she claws my face. “You’re sleeping in a shower cap.”

My words come out slurred and annoyed. “Thank you, Satan. I know.” Eyes closed, my hand reaches up and feels the thin plastic covering my hair. Oh. That bitch didn’t lie. I feel her dissecting stare from behind my eyelids. “Okay, I didn’t know.” I clumsily slide the shower cap off my head, long strands of hair fall free and cling to my face with static. I fling the flimsy cap across the bed; air from the fan pushes it back toward me like a tumbleweed in the desert. It grazes my arm and my eyes resentfully open for business. A fist closes tightly around the shower cap and I throw it to the floor with unamusement.

“Are you mad because I caught you looking like an idiot or because you didn’t finish your midnight snack?” Fat sits at the corner of the bed, trying to close the gap between herself and the fan. The blue pre-dawn light from the window shows the silhouette of spectacles perched across her nose.

“What?” I finally sit up in the dimness of too-damn-early o’clock. Gravity pulls several moist bead-like objects off my sweaty skin. Imagination fuels panic when I speculate what kind of cancerous growth or fungus it could be. I pick up one of the mashed spheres and quickly realize what it is. I squint to see a galaxy of no-longer-frozen peas scattered across the cotton sheets. Balls.

Fat’s whiskers jostle in the electric breeze. “Fell asleep cuddling that bag like teddy bear. I love your summertime ritual before you become acclimated to the temperature.” Her ears curl back like horns on top of her bulbous head.

I throw back the sheets to investigate. Peas propel to the floor when I search the country of my king-size bed, finally finding the plastic bag beneath one of the pillows. I reach to turn on the lamp beside the bed and examine the package. Concentrated in one corner of the almost-empty bag are a multitude of little holes. The kind of holes that, in the past, have successfully ripped open Ziploc bags of cookies from my mama.

“Fat. What the hell?” My fingers trace the long tear in the plastic that resulted from numerous attempts to claw her way in. “Why did you do this?”

She looks at me unapologetically. “Natural curiosity. I needed to see what was in the bag.”

I turn the package in her direction and point to the labelled picture on the front. “Peas, you ass.” My fingers curl back and flick off two green pox still adhered to my stomach. I take in the view of the pea collection across the bed and the multitude scattered on the floor.

“Is this what the phrase pea-ing the bed means?” Fat bursts out with a boisterous laugh. “The look on your face is priceless right now. You couldn’t possibly take this any more seriously, could you?”

“This mess is ridiculous.” With a balled fist, I roughly grind sleep from my right eye. “You’re wearing your shrink glasses.”

“Don’t sound so enthused. I thought you would want to discuss the nightmare you were having.”

I brush peas off the sheets and onto the floor. “You are the nightmare I’m having.” Mutt finally wakes from slumber and traipses over to eat some of the vegetables from the carpet. I stop flicking peas to the ground long enough to look at Fat. “How did you know I was having a nightmare?”

Fat stares down to the mess on the floor. “You were the one that made this mess with all your tossing and turning.”

“And in consciousness, my suffering continues. Nope. Don’t care to discuss my unconscious fears with you, thanks. I’m sure you’d just use that information to screw with my mind even more.”

“Everybody needs a hobby.” Fat’s teeth show in a menacing smile.

Fuck, I’m dying right now.” I grab the shower cap off the floor and go back to the bathroom for the second post-bedtime shower of the night.

“Get used to the heat, lady. Where you’re going to end up, there won’t be cool showers at three in the morning to cool you down.”

“Take your own advice, Doc.” My voice becomes a mumble as I turn on the cold water. “Even in death, I can’t escape that wretch.”