You Ain’t No Friend of Mine

“Breaking news, Boss. May I have your attention please.”

Fat sits in the apartment entryway like she’s been waiting quite a while for me to arrive home. She doesn’t twitch when my purse flings dangerously close to her face before it rolls to an ungraceful stop in the middle of the hallway.

“Today I have decided that I love Elvis Presley.” She waits for my acknowledgement of her less-than-grand declaration, when none comes, she assumes ignorance on my part. “You know, the King of Rock n’ Roll.”

A groan squeezes its way out of my lungs as I try to both manipulate an object bigger than a door through the doorway and force the uncooperative angle from the hallway to be my friend. I’m sweating; it’s not that glistening, dainty sweat that as a child I believed was the only kind of sweating a lady was capable of. I’m sweating like a lumberjack on an August day. My back cries like it’s thrice its age and my current desire is gaining access to a sledgehammer in order to turn this bulky beast of a thing into a manageable pile of shrapnel.

“It’s like you don’t even hear me. Hello, I’d like a response. Big day over here.” Fat’s paw taps with impatience on the carpet.

Frustrated, I set the giant board down and brush loose strands of hair out of my dewy face. “You’re going to have to move, Fat.” Hands find their way to my hips as I stare down at the unmoving feline.

“And if I refuse?” Green eyes glower in my direction and then quickly flip to a more curious state. “What do you have there?”

“This,” I grab an edge of the imitation antique frame and try again to coax the monstrous and unforgiving board around the corner and through the apartment doorway, “is a ginormous chalk board.” I push, pull, pivot and perspire without progress. Piss. My arms and sanity, demanding a break, refuse another attempt. “And of course I couldn’t fit it in the elevator so I wrestled this beauty up the stairs.” I force a smile and there are a couple hearty thuds as I bang my hand against the frame. “I kind of want to die right now.”

“You look like you could use some help, kid.”

Fat’s voice turns sing-song as she peers at the new arrival. “Awk-ward.”

I turn to address the owner of the voice. Jesse stands with a grocery bag, staring at the hallway obstruction. “So, am I supposed to hurdle over this thing or…”

“I’m trying to move it. Trying being the operative word. Just uh…yeah. Jump it.”

Fat interrupts, her head jutting toward the chalkboard. “A little less conversation, a little more action please.”

“Don’t.” I swivel and hold up a warning finger to the feline. I feel very like my mother right now.

“If I try to jump it, I might wreck my junk. Can I help you maneuver this mother of all chalkboards inside?”

“Boss, he still wants a piece,” the feline winks grossly. “Don’t mess it up,” she pauses, “again.”

“Stop. Stop it now. This is a no-interest situation.” Unless less than no-interest is a thing. I sigh, reminiscing about former decisions. Bad call, former self.

While I talk, Fat starts to hum and eventually the tune carries lyrics.

“Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can’t help falling in love with you.”

“Seriously, Fat. I’m going to kill you.”

Jesse sets his grocery bag on the floor. “Miss Fat, always with something to meow about. You know, sometimes I swear you two understand what the other is saying.” He points back and forth between me and Fat as though we can’t figure out who he is talking about. “Match made in heaven, I think.”

“What?” Fat’s head snaps upward to eye the neighbour with contempt. “How dare you, sir?”

I must shoot Jesse some kind of awful scowl too because he holds his hands up defensively. “Easy. Legitly, though. You two are some kind of pair.”

“Legitly isn’t a real word, fool.” Fat and I speak in unison and then regard at each other uncomfortably. It’s always uneasy when she and I are on the same page; we seldom get each other.

“Just trying to help here, girls.”

“Uh, thanks for the offer, Jesse, but I really don’t think the board is going to fit without breaking it. Damn. Guess it’s going back to the store.” I start unwedging the board from the doorway. Pity.

“You sure?” Jesse sees the confirmation on my face and takes it as a cue to grab his groceries and dig keys out of his coat pocket. “Alright, well, it was good running into you. See ya.”

I offer him a lazy wave as I wipe forehead sweat on the sleeve of my sweater.

Fat and I both watch as he saunters the ten feet to his door and disappears inside.

Silence.

I carefully lean the chalkboard against the wall.

And then it starts.

“Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell.
It’s down at the end of lonely street
at Heartbreak Hotel.”

“Shut up, Fat.”

Killer Instincts and Survival Skills

“Is that the jackass who yelled at you this morning?”

I let Fat’s words distract me from the massive House, M.D. marathon I’ve got going on. I’m not sure why I didn’t watch this show a decade ago when everyone else did. Dr. Gregory house is one of those intelligent assholes that are entirely my type – such a shame he’s fictional. Groaning from the interruption, I pause Netflix and melt off the couch. I crawl over to Fat’s vantage point by the patio door.

Fat hasn’t budged; her stare is fixed down at the sole occupant at the patio table out front of the apartment building.

“That’s him, isn’t it?”

I squint in the direction of her gaze and try to discern if he was the one that injected his verbose rudeness into my morning walk with Mutt. Yes. No. Maybe. I shrug.

“They all look the same to me.” I glare down at him – my own form of justice – holding that loud-mouthed bastard in contempt. He has no idea we’re talking about him. If he were to just look up to the second floor at the window, he would see both Fat and I with our noses near-pressed to the glass giving him the universal face of ‘you crossed the line, son’.

“Oh.” Fat makes a tiny jolt as her head turns to the left, noticing another fellow not two metres away from us. “I’m more inclined to think this is the guy we’re upset with.” Her voice becomes a little slurred as she talks out of the side of her mouth so he can’t read her lips, “Seriously, they all really do look the same.”

My eyes sweep to the left and my heart lurches when I see another crow perched on the rail of the balcony. Unafraid, the bird stares at me. Its dark eyes glower in a ‘die, bitch’ kind of a way. I get chills like he’s taken over the role of the Grim Reaper. Crows following you around your neighbourhood can’t be a good omen. This is definitely the dude that stood on the mailbox beaking me off this morning. Or he’s just another random jerk of his species.

“Yep. It’s this guy.” I point like I’m a victim on the witness stand showing everyone in the courtroom my attacker. “Do you see the look he’s giving me?” I do the only thing I can think of and stick my tongue out at him.

“Wow, boss. He’s definitely not afraid of you.” Fat turns again to look at me with a fleeting smile that warns me that she’s about to do something that I’m not going to enjoy.

“Hey, fucker!” Fat whips around and bangs her paw hard against the window pane. “This is my human. You got something to say, you go through me.” She hisses and props her front paws against the glass door so she grows much taller. “Nobody gets to verbally abuse this human except me. You got that?”

The black bird tilts its head inquisitively at the feline’s outburst.

“YOU GOT THAT? I’m crazy, man. I’ll take you out.” Fat’s eyes bulge and her movements become jerky. A guttural growl sounds in the back of her throat. I’m getting that uneasy feeling of somebody who just realized their roommate is a psychopath.

Without thinking, my arm swoops down and picks up the grey feline. She twists frantically in my grasp so as not to lose sight of the bird outside. The crow stays on the iron handrail, but its feet shuffle a half-foot farther away from us.

“Hold me back, boss. There’s about to be a homicide at our homestead.”

Fat’s back legs kick and she makes it tricky to hold on to her. The claws extend out of her fur and she slashes wildly in the air. Every few seconds she lets out another war cry. I give up the effort and drop her – she’s gone full primal. I do the only thing I can think of: I slide open the patio door and give her the opportunity to commit murder. Oddly enough, I feel flattered that she cares so much to unleash her Hyde side in order to rid me of my bird problem.

Fat bounds out-of-doors, cussing nonsensically like she has advanced Tourette Syndrome.  Sailors would blush at some of the angry phrases that fused with the feline’s voice. The bird took off immediately, no caws or ruffled feathers or anything else to draw attention to himself – his exit was swift like he was running out on a bill.

On the patio, Fat instantly calms, her on-end hair smoothes. She turns on the spot like a pageant queen, becoming the sane version of herself again. She flashes an arrogant smile. “Problem solved. That wasn’t so hard.”

I do the only thing I can think of. I slide the door shut, trapping Fat out on the balcony.

Her nice demeanor melts away as quickly as she composed herself. I hear the low-growling sound coming from the other side of the door. Fat pounces at the glass door, slamming her paw against the glass.

“Hey, fucker!”

I do the only thing I can think of. I close the curtain and get as far away from the window as possible. Good thing Dr. House is accessible on my iPad because he and I need to leave the apartment immediately.