Fathers and First Dates

“Help. It’s an emergency!” Fat’s voice shouts on the other end of the line.

My back hunches over as I hold the cell phone up to my ear and turn to look out the passenger side window at the storefronts we drive past. There really is no way to get privacy in a car other than turn your back to the other person and pretend to be alone. Gentle thuds from the rainy and grey day patter against the roof of the Mazda – way to be cliché, Vancouver. I’m delighted that we’re planning on going to dinner and a movie tonight; a stroll by the ocean is less romantic during a monsoon.

“Calm down. What’s wrong?” The silver lining to an emergency: James only picked me up from my place ten minutes ago – it won’t take long to get back home to fix whatever catastrophe has befallen the apartment. I go through the rolodex in my head of all the possibilities of things that could go awry leaving Fat at home without supervision. Any number of disasters could have occurred in my absence. For some reason, I’m quick to assume arson – and if that’s my first assumption, why on earth would I ever trust the feline home alone? She’s called me an idiot before. I’m sad to report that it could be true; maybe I am an idiot.

It’s our first time hanging out and here I am taking a personal call from my housecat. Awesome. Depending on how this goes could really affect how things move forward with this fella. I’m not really sure how I’m feeling about him yet. Better keep the ol’ pro/con list on standby.

“Is everything okay?” James turns down the car stereo and the Foo Fighters are forced into near-silence. In a normal circumstance, this would never happen. Foo Fighters are meant to be loud; if this guy is willing to mute a great band for my benefit – that’s a tally in the pro column.

I glance over my left shoulder and shrug. James alternates between navigating the busy street and throwing quick looks of concern my way before his attention returns to the road. His blue eyes widen with questions. He cares – another pro for the gent.

“I don’t know.” I turn back to my phone, “Faaa…” I can’t say her name, this date will be over instantly if he finds out who’s ringing me at this moment, “…ather, what’s going on?”

“Father? Is that what you call me behind my back? It’s my wisdom, isn’t it?” I hear the smile in her voice. “You didn’t have a fancy English childhood, just call me dad like a normal Canadian.”

My concern evaporates instantly. If something was actually wrong, she wouldn’t be dicking me around like this. “What’s the emergency, Fat?”

“Should I find a place to pull over?” James shoulder checks in preparation to get to the next side street. He makes no mention of me calling my pretend father Fat. That speaks to his overabundance of politeness – con. I need a dude that shoots from the hip.

I pull away from my phone, albeit briefly, and minutely shake my head, “You can just keep heading to the restaurant.” Good driver – pro.

“So how’s the date going?” Fat’s words are weighted with intrigue and gossip.

“Tell me why that’s not the reason you’re calling.” I wave my hand forward, reassuring James that he’s good to keep driving. The windshield wipers move in their rhythmic pattern. “I’m kind of busy at the moment.”

“Boss. I’m giving you an out here if it’s not going well. I noticed he was blond. If you need this phone call to be an emergency to get away from the man bimbo, take it.” The feline makes a point: blonde – con.

“It’s only been a few minutes,” my words hiss into the phone, and I adjust course when I catch the look on James’ face at my sudden change of tone. “It’s hard to tell so soon…father. Stay positive. I’m sure your team will win.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Fat’s words are clipped and she clearly does not understand what I’m trying to do. “You hate sports. There isn’t even a game on right now, dumb ass.”

I roll my eyes and try to spell it out for her. “The game (massive emphasis to let her know we’re not discussing something on TSN) just started. Anything can happen. I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Have I told you recently that you’re an idiot?” The sound of buttons accidently being pushed on her end rings in my ears.

“I love you too. Bye.” I end the call, turn the ringer off and drop the phone in my lap. “I’m really sorry about that. I shouldn’t have answered.”

James searches for a tactful thing to say, “Your dad sounds like an… interesting guy.” There’s that politeness again – con.

Another call from Fat lights up my phone. I hit ignore.

“Huh? Oh yeah. My dad is a real cupcake.”

Refunds at the Freak Show

“What do you reckon that ugly stick looks like? You know, the one from the phrase, ‘so-and-so looks like they’ve been hit with an ugly stick’. It must have a distinctive shape to be a definitive ugly stick. Right?”

Of course this is the useless drivel I wake up to. Why wouldn’t it be? Fat and nonsense might just be synonymous. I love being gifted many words from the idiot cat and no context to align them. I have no idea what time it is, I just know that this is more of a conversation for after the wake-up period. I adjust the blankets to cover the limbs exposed from the restless kicking and acrobatics that occurred in last night’s fight to find comfort.

The light from the bedroom window blinds me and, I say this in a hyperbolic hand-to-God kind of way, my retinas are definitely affected. I squint at the uncharacteristic November sunshine gracing this early Vancouver morning before I roll away from it and toward the absolute opposite: I come face-to-face with the she-devil feline who is deep in speculation mode. Our noses rest a fraction of an inch away from each other. Fat strokes her whiskers with a paw as she contemplates.

Her plastic shrink glasses are on. She’s been waiting for me. Ambush therapy, Fat’s specialty.

“If I were to suppose, I would say that ugly stick is shaped like a hand. Makes for a really great mark when you get hit across the face with it.” Her warm, sour breath accosts my face. This really isn’t a great start to the morning.

“Been awake for a while hey, Fat?” I mumble and try to push her a good arm’s length away. I don’t know what she’s been eating that makes her mouth smell like decay, but my face needs to be given some literal breathing room.

“Long enough to make you coffee, you ungrateful and wretched woman.” The grey feline sashays to the side to gesture with both paws, in a ta-da fashion, at the steaming mug on the bedside table.

Amazing. Good kitty. I reach with utter delight, so tickled at how the morning has turned around in mere seconds. Goodbye to the grumbling I-don’t-do-mornings version of myself, hello to the caffeinated little-miss-sunshine side of my personality. Before my fingers grasp the handle of the porcelain mug I stop. My arm remains suspended in midair as a panicked alarm echoes through my head. Fat did a deed that was both nice and unsolicited. Something isn’t right here; something is terribly, terribly wrong.

I brace for incurable news when I ask, “Why?”

“Wow, trust issues.” Fat’s paw clutches her chest as though I’ve violated the sanctity of her character. “Can’t a feline just do something nice for her caretaker?”

“Seriously, Fat, why?” My body remains rigid like a cartoon character frozen in place. I’m not about to grab that coffee mug just yet.

She reaches to grab her pen, almost like she’s expecting something noteworthy to occur. “Because at some point last night you were struck with the ugly stick, Boss. You deserve to be coddled a little bit. Life gets pretty hard when you’re the owner of a messed up face.”

I can’t sit up fast enough. I wrestle with the duvet that’s trying to keep me away from a mirror. What does she mean messed up face? My face doesn’t feel any different. What happened last night? The faint click of Fat’s pen punctuates this moment where I’m scrambling out of bed. I run over to the dresser mirror to see the damage.

A perfect scarlet image of my own hand rests across my cheek – it looks like I recently crossed Zsa Zsa Gabor. Because the moment calls for it, I lift my hand and press it against the mark on my face. Yup, story checks out. Looks like I was just sleeping with my face against my palm. Nothing to see here, folks, the freak show is a hoax; go see the world’s fattest twins for your refund.

“It’s just a sleep mark, you idiot.” I turn back to the bed, graced by the view of my shrink scribbling excitedly in one of my old college notebooks. “What’s so interesting?”

“We just had a eureka moment. Your reaction just confirmed something I’ve long since suspected, Boss. You’re a Narcissist, whom I also speculate suffers from Grandiosity.” She points to the coffee mug, still untouched, on the night stand. “Drink up. I’m going to need you to be fully alert. Prepare yourself for a long session.”

I can’t prove it, but I assume she learned these words from daytime television between her soap operas. Narcissist? How can she say that about somebody as humble as I am? I am the most humble, charming, sweet, thoughtful person you’ll ever meet. I dare say I might just be the best human alive.

I’m going to drink that coffee. Then I’m going to kill her. And then I’m going to go back to bed. Later I’ll find a nice taxidermist and have her stuffed. And we will finally live happily ever after.

The expression on my face prompts another tidbit from the feline. “Don’t worry, I brewed a whole pot. We’re set for a while.”

No Secrets from Housecats

“Where were you? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

I’m greeted by the feline’s backside. Fat doesn’t show any sign that she’s noticed me aside from the questions that sound remarkably distant. She’s preoccupied; something on the computer desk holds her attention far more than my entrance ever could.

I drop my yoga bag on the floor and throw a look at the digital clock on the PVR. The crisp white numbers show that it’s not quite seven-thirty. I feel my lip curl in uncertainty as I free my mane from a frizzed-out, sweaty bun.

“Prayer meeting.” I wait for Fat’s head to snap and look at me with alarm and intrigue, but it doesn’t happen. She’s busy reading something on the laptop.

“Well if I know anything about you, Boss, it’s that you love the Jesus.” I see her brow furrow as she leans closer to the screen. Her mouth moves as she silently reads a couple more sentences on the virtual document in front of her. Eventually she turns to give me her consideration. “Sorry, did you say something else?”

“Thanks for listening,” I mutter. “What are you reading anyways?” My head lazily tilts toward the computer.

The feline’s mouth opens with a smile so wide I can see her fangs. Her paw goes to the wireless mouse and scrolls up until I see the familiar banner of my blog. Oh god.

My chest constricts as I do my best impression of somebody who is able to maintain their composure. “I… uh… how did you stumble upon that?” My fingertips drum on the desktop for lack of anything better to do. I’m fighting the urge to drop-kick the good doctor off the balcony in a fit of panic. I’m really not sure if there is any other remedy for the situation.

“It’s on the internet, you idiot. How was I not supposed to find it?” Fat clicks on a post from April 2014. “Really, it’s quite amazing that you don’t even realize how psychologically destructive you are to yourself.”

Taken aback, I abandon my discomfort of the situation when curiosity takes over. I walk closer and crouch beside Fat so we can both read the post. “What do you mean?”

“Suppose the words I say… see, here,” a grey paw bats the screen to a paragraph where I’ve written about her verbally tearing me a new one, “suppose these cynical, bitchy, loathsome things aren’t actually me speaking to you – it’s how you feel about yourself manifesting in a bizarre situation where you talk to your cat and you think the cat talks back.” Fat snickers at something my past self wrote, “I wish I said that.”

My mouth falls open. Agape, I mull over conversations with Fat that I can remember the hateful and bitchy things she has definitely said in the past. At least, I’m pretty certain she actually said them.

“That’s a nice hunchback you’re growing. Trying to get Quasimodo’s job when he retires from the bell tower?”

“Your brain is so full of stupid the excess is coming out your mouth.”

“I thought ugly people were supposed to have great personalities.”

I slowly turn toward Fat and our eyes meet. I falter, questioning what I always assumed was true. “Fat, I–”

“BAHAHAHAHA!”  She buries a delighted kitten face in the crook of her elbow, “I’m just yanking you, Boss. You’re not clever enough to come up with a fraction of this stuff on your own.”

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.”

Dress Code for Hiding in Public

“I can’t believe this needs to be said,” Fat’s face hides behind a paw she holds against the bridge of her small nose as though she’s irritated, “You’re walking a dog, not a runway.”

I stare at her with annoyance as I grab the dog leash off the wall hook. “I’m aware of that, thank you.” As much as I try to force my voice to have a salty edge, it sounds more like a childish tone than anything else. One would think with the ocean only blocks away I would be able to draw some of its icy power, but no. I just pay more money to live near a giant body of water which I don’t particularly like to swim in. Balls.

“So, what’s with the get-up?”

“You obviously mean the awesome in which I am besotted.” I spin to show off my outfit and the tight purple dress doesn’t move. However, not being used to walking in heels, I go rather off-kilter and catch myself against the bedroom door frame. Fuck off, gravity.

“Not one for working the elegant angle, are you? Take a note from me, boss. There is nothing more elegant than fur.” To illustrate, Fat moves in a perfect circle, rotating her head as she turns to maintain eye contact. I would never vocalize this, but damn she can act cool. Once the fur fashion show is over, the cat then sits tall and proud beside the sneakers I would normally wear to take Mutt out.

“Are you suggesting that I scalp you and wear your fur? I’ve thought about it. There are days when it’s tempting, Fat.”

Her jaw drops, “Get PETA on the phone. Now.”

“Please. You know I’m joking. Animal cruelty makes me want to hurt humans.” I begrudgingly release the door frame and stand on my feet with the graceful balance of a cavewoman who just discovered that knuckles weren’t meant to drag on the ground.

“We’re on the same page. Good. So what’s with the fancy get-up if you’re not actually going anywhere?”

“I forget that people can still see me in public when I’m not wearing makeup or proper clothes…”

“You’re an amazon woman in five-inch heels, if you’re trying to hide from the general population I would have to say this is a tremendous failure.”

“I ran into a friend of mine from work the last time I walked Mutt. She always looks effortlessly amazing. It’s not fair. So I’m doing something about it.” I force a smile, even though the black pumps are stabbing my feet like a back-alley hoodlum.

“Can I be honest with you, boss?”

“Aren’t you always?” Balance escapes me and I fall ass over teakettle onto the floor. Fat turns to look at the wall in order to hold in her laughter as I achingly crawl to my knees.

“Christ.” Nope. I quit. I wrench the heels off my feet, throwing them down the hallway into the living room. Dangerous goods, these shoes. I stand with my hands on my hips, angrily fuming at the fact I spent money on those death traps. Damn this dress is uncomfortable. I strip it off, leaving it in the hallway while I dig through the laundry basket to find the jeans and t-shirt I wore yesterday. Yes. Comfort. Long strands of hair fall into my face as I bend to put on my sneakers. Fuck you, hair. I bind it with a hair tie in a sloppy bun. Better. Feeling less of a danger to myself and others.

“Sorry, Fat. You were about to say something.”

Fat looks me up and down with what I want to call approval, “Not important. You seem to have read my mind.”

A Guidebook for the Ill

“Brace yourself, pal, here comes the stewardess spiel.” Fat tilts her head in Boyfriend’s direction. She’s sitting in the office chair; it’s the perfect place for her to see me, hunched in the light of the refrigerator, in the kitchen and Boyfriend, in the fetal position, on the couch in the living room.

“There is orange juice here and another bottle on the bottom shelf if you need it.” I point at the items as I mention them, then kick the fridge door shut as I move down my list. I open the cupboard above the kettle, “Should you require tea it’s in the cupboard along with plenty of honey if you’re in a hot water with lemon kind of mood.” The cupboard slams shut with force after I ensure there is enough of both to withstand the next few days.

Fat watches as I enter the living room with purpose.

“If you’re going to throw up,” both hands point to the bathroom like it’s an emergency exit, “you know where the bathroom is located. If it’s a dire situation,” my index fingers extend to their full length as I indicate the glass door opposite, “please avoid ruining the furniture, carpet or my appetite and eliminate your stomach contents over the banister.” Seems disgusting, but it’ll give Creepo downstairs something to observe that won’t require him to employ his binoculars.

Boyfriend sniffles and nods. Fat buries her face under her paws to silence the laughter trying to escape.

I pick up the can of disinfectant and spray enough of it to sting my eyes and harm my lungs; it tickles my esophagus enough to solicit an irritated cough.

“While you’re in this state, please remember the following: don’t sneeze on me, don’t kiss me, don’t touch me, avoid breathing my air, don’t talk to me – text me if you need more orange juice, don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t exaggerate your condition. When you change your pyjamas, burn the infected ones. Don’t expect any sort of sexy nurse role playing. I don’t give sponge baths, I don’t administer cough syrup, I don’t take temperatures. I won’t call your mother. I won’t baby you and I’ll be out the door before I put up with any infantile behaviour.” I see Boyfriend’s eyes glaze over as he tries his damnedest to listen. “Chin up, I’m almost finished.” I scratch my head, trying to remember where I left off. “Right. The best meal you can expect is a can of soup and/or toast. I will not pity for you or lavish you with affection because neither will generate a result that will improve your condition; it just puts me closer to sharing your plague and I absolutely refuse.” My eyes look up to search the archives of my brain – everything that was there has moved out. “That about does it then. Stay hydrated and best of luck to you.”

I spin on my heel and head into the bedroom. I hear the gentle sound of scurrying footsteps behind me. Fat jumps up onto the bed as I grab the iPad off the night stand.

“Your bedside manner is really quite cold, isn’t it?”

I tap my finger on the icon to check my email. “Fat,” I look at her for a fraction of a second, “If I wanted to nurse people back to health, I’d have gone into a healthcare field.”

Fat cozies up to my pillow and curls herself into a grey ball of flabby fur with a cat face. “No empathy in you at all, is there?”

“This is the first time Boyfriend has been sick since we’ve been dating. I have to set a precedent for future illness. You’ve heard of how men become babies when they’re sick; if I’m all nice and Stepford to him, he’ll always expect it.” I shake my head emphatically, “No, no, Fat. If I wanted an infant right now I’d be somebody’s baby mama.”

The feline stares up at me, appalled.

“What, doc? Clearly you have an opinion. I’m not going to apologize for what just happened in there. He’s not dying, to my knowledge he hasn’t become a recent amputee.” I delete a bunch of junk mail.

“Your lack of compassion is astounding, boss. Makes me wonder why I didn’t consider you a sociopath sooner.”

“We’re not doing this right now, Fat.” I drop the iPad on the bed and grab Fat under her armpits and carry her into the living room.

Boyfriend stares at me, not risking a syllable to ask what I’m doing – he knows not to verbally prod the unbalanced. With a gentle lob, Fat sails over the coffee table and lands beside Boyfriend’s hip. “Here’s the cat for company. Use her as you would a hot water bottle or punching bag. Cough on her, vomit on her, she’ll just purr and be a sweetheart the whole while you’re infected. She’s compassionate like that.”

Hear no Evil

“Oh, God. I’ve gone deaf.”

I look up from my book. Fat is parked at the edge of the sectional, while I’m cozy in the corner where the couch becomes perpendicular.  I watch the back of her head bob and weave as she watches Boyfriend’s fingers fly across the ivory keys of the no longer pristine upright piano.

Fat’s voice becomes increasingly fraught with worry, “Oh, God. Oh my fucking damn. I’ve been struck deaf. I don’t have the thumbs or the patience to learn sign language; I’m not a monkey for Christ’s sake.” I see her spine straighten as the metaphoric lightbulb appears above her pointed ears. “Hold up. I can hear my own voice. Wait. Is that the voice in my head? I can’t tell. Hey. Hey, guy,” Fat’s paw reaches out in the direction of Boyfriend as if to will him to pay attention to her, “can you make some noise so I can tell if I’m deaf or not?” Her paw pathetically sweeps side-to-side in the air. Boyfriend plays on, letting his body lean into the notes he plays, completely oblivious to the feline behind him.

“For a self-appointed shrink, you’re a colossal dumb ass.”

Fat jumps with shock and comes heartbreakingly close to bailing off the couch. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky as to bear witness to one of my dreams coming true. “I forgot you were there. Book without pictures, I see. I’m proud of you.” Fat momentarily regains her charming demeanor. She blinks twice when my words finally become sound in her brain. “I can hear you.”

“And goody for me, I can hear you too. Seriously, Fat, what’s your deal? We agreed it was time to take a break from the catnip.” I reach my hand between two couch cushions and pull out my bookmark.

“Kicked the stuff. Cold turkey. Don’t need it. Nope. Fine without.” Fat throws looks over her shoulder at Boyfriend between her chopped sentences. “I don’t understand it, boss. The whole thing reeks of voodoo. He’s like the Charlie Chaplin version of King Midas; everything he touches turns to mute. Guess that explains why I never hear you two having–”

“I will pay you fifty dollars not to finish that sentence.” I cut her off, even though it doesn’t matter if she finishes the sentence or not. The next time Boyfriend and I find ourselves on the cusp of a XXX throw down, I’m just going to picture Fat with her pervy ear pressed against the other side of the door. At least we have the forethought to lock her out of the bedroom. Who knows what kind of advice would spring up at our next therapy session if she had a front row seat to that show.

“Aw, hell, Fat. His headphones are plugged into the piano.” I silently hoped I could ride out her potential deafness a little longer for amusement’s sake, but the conversational path we stumbled upon is one that certainly does not need to be travelled. I toss the library book onto the coffee table.

Fat invites herself to curl up against my sternum. Her ears flick as they absorb the surrounding noise. She lets out a contended sigh, “Creepo downstairs is listening to old school Alanis Morissette. Neat.”

I scratch the back of her ears, “You can hear that?” Aside the hum from the refrigerator, I don’t hear anything.

“Believe me, boss, when I’m not having a deaf day I hear lots of things.”

I’m instantly uncomfortable. If she can hear the downstairs neighbour’s music… I crane my neck to look down at the feline, she has some sort of nervous tic with one of her eyes. I watch it rapidly close and reopen. Almost like it was intentional.

She repeats the end of her last sentence, “Lots of things.”

All Kinds of Fancy and Two Kinds of Assholes

“No. No-no-no-no. Nuh uh. This isn’t happening.” Fat’s eyes grow huge staring at the bejewelled collar in my hands. “Just because you’re decked out like Liberace doesn’t mean I have to be.”

My advance slows. “Decked out like… what do you mean?” I’m not wearing any more jewellery than usual: necklace, a few rings, earrings. Nothing ostentatious. Not like I’ve all of a sudden decided I adore sequined rose-coloured glasses or a tiara made of the feathers from hundred-year-old Great Horned Owls.

“You’re not fancy enough for diamonds.” Fat’s eyes stare from the purple feline jewels I hold to my second set of earrings. She dons a fake English accent, “Off for high tea at the Denny’s? Just remember: cross your legs at the ankles – you’re not a common whore, and bring me home what’s left of your Grand Slam. Pinkies up, dear.”

Defensively, my right hand reaches up to touch the diamond studs. “The mocking is a bit much.”

Fat’s shoulders hunch when I take another step closer to where she sits on the desk. Her eyes dart from the collar in my hand to my face, and back to the collar. She fishes quickly for something to say to prevent my drawing any nearer. “So you decided you like the earrings he gave you after all. What changed your mind?” The mocking in her tone evaporates as she fishes for what sounds like sincerity.

I remember opening the gift from Boyfriend and how feelings of adoration and overwhelm formed the strangest hybrid of internal conflict. Fat’s right. I’m not fancy enough for diamonds. That was my worry when I let my mouth control the situation instead of my logic asking, “Would you be offended if I returned these?” The answer is yes. Yes he would. Boyfriend didn’t have to say it, the look of disappointed shock talked as much as a drunk bitch at a house party.

Rather than verbally call myself an idiot, my hand slaps my forehead when I remember deflating his excitement with my lack of tact. This seems to please Fat, as she smiles when my self-slap leaves behind tingling pink skin. It’s not enough that I hate myself, but my fingers hate me too. Not cool, digits.

I perch on the edge of the desk beside Fat. She sits rigidly, though the reason for her hyper-awareness to my proximity is lost on me. “It wasn’t my best moment, was it?” My face scrunches as I brace myself for confirmation.

“Doesn’t even make the top thousand, boss. You are your own special kind of disillusioned idiot.” Fat chuckles, “I know you’re not good at relationships, but rule number one if you’re ever given anything made out of diamonds: be gracious. Not like he bought you a diamond chuck wagon.”

“A diamond chuck wagon is at least six different kinds of awesome. No word of a lie, I would use that every single day.”

Fat says nothing, just shoots me a your-mother-clearly-threw-you-out-of-a-second-floor-window-as-an-infant look.

I take my phone out of my pocket and take a quick selfie. Fat peers over my shoulder as if she expects the photo to be of somebody else. I zoom in and see how I look with diamonds in my ears. “I look…” I know exactly what would make me enjoy this picture more, “like I need bigger diamonds. At least a few carats. Maybe a necklace and some glittery goodness for my fingers.” I feel my eyes grow wide with greed and notice at the same time that there’s still a bejewelled collar still tucked in the palm of my hand.

With as much speed as I can muster, I grab Fat and belt the collar around her neck. Her ears point backward and she glares at me with the look of a serial killer.

“Fat, you look so pretty!”

“Get this shit off of me. Get this shit off of me right now.”

I open the camera app on my phone again and start taking some pictures. “Hey, what happened to rule number one? Be gracious, Fat.”

Her green eyes glare directly at the camera. “That rule only applies to real diamonds, you disgusting wench.”

The Good Doctor

“What the fuck happened to the apartment?” I let out the growl of a lion, and I begin my hunt for the guilty party. She won’t get away with this, not on this lion’s pride.

In the kitchen, buttery footprints stray across the counter leading away from the butter dish. On closer examination, it appears the butter has entered puberty, as it now has hair where it didn’t before. I’ll kill her. On the opposite counter near the sink, my abandoned morning coffee apparently decided to commit suicide while I was out. The mug thrust itself off the counter, dying instantly upon impact. Cold coffee remains leaking out onto the kitchen floor is a scene few can bear to witness. Mutt cowers under the desk as I circle from the kitchen and stalk into the living room. The corner of the couch has become the victim of merciless claw marks. The plant on the coffee table, now uprooted, has left dirt all around the pot and on the carpet.  I peek in the bedroom and the only thing I notice is an indent on my pillow, likely where the great pest decided to take an afternoon siesta.

Today I write a book: Feline Homicide: A DIY ProjectInternational Bestseller guaranteed. Were I a beefed-up goon, this is the part where I ball a hand into a fist and crack all the knuckles simultaneously.

Coming out of the bedroom, I catch sight of Fat in my peripheral. She sits on the closed lid of the toilet seat, paw raised as though she’s testifying in court. I look down at the floor to see the Charmin, unrolled and covering the floor in a sea of white ribbon.

“Fat. Seriously? I was gone for two hours.”

Fat’s raised paw moves almost too quickly to see. She reaches out, gives the remaining toilet paper a swat and we both watch another few layers of ass paper slide to the ground.

Unapologetic, the feline shoots me a judgemental look. “Tsk tsk.” She shakes her head. “I suppose this is what happens when you leave Mutt in charge. If you recall, this sort of nonsense doesn’t happen on my watch.” A malicious smile contentedly resides on her face.

I think back to my departure. As is normal before I shut the door behind me, I tongue-in-cheek make the first animal I see the deputy of the apartment. Today, it happened to be Mutt. I proclaimed that the little doofus was in charge in my absence and left without a second thought. It would seem that it struck a sore spot with the good doctor.

Fat looks down, contentedly, at her mayhem. “Still, we’re in better shape than when you’re the one in charge, oh fearless leader.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I crouch down to start gathering up the unravelled toilet paper.

Fat jumps down and rubs her side along my kneecap. “Bad decisions decline when you’re out of the home, boss. One does have to admit, it is easier to succumb to boredom when your dumb ass isn’t around, hence…” Her eyes glance at the mess I’ve managed to bundle together before she proceeds to lick a paw that still gleams from the butter.

Tremendous silence reverberates off the bathroom walls. I’m the kind of mad where it’s uncertain if I’m going to lash out verbally or physically. It’s the tip of the precipice where one more jerk remark from Fat will declare which side I’m on. Her fate is in her own hands. I’m kind of hoping that this ends with me drowning her in the toilet.

I see something hidden on the floor behind the toilet. Curiosity is anger’s kryptonite; inquisition is to rampage as a fire extinguisher is to anything I attempt to cook. Reaching out, I grab the wire object: eyeglasses from a plastic Santa who is either stuffed in a plastic bag and hidden in the hall closet, or stuffed in a plastic bag and taken to the garbage bin out back.

I point the spectacles in Fat’s direction when I ask: “This is a play to get me to stay home with you more? Are you suggesting that this poor behaviour is an attempt to extort therapy sessions where I play the part of your dim-witted patient? You are a terrible shrink, Fat.”

Fat taps her nose when I figure out the motivation behind her afternoon asshole endeavors. “But I’m an awfully good listener.”

Breakthroughs in the Wee Hours of Morning

“If Boyfriend wakes up to cat anus in his face, he’s going to be pissed.” My index finger digs at the corners of my eyes to remove the sleep and residual mascara clumps. Fat remains precariously poised on Boyfriend’s shoulder as he remains dead to the world, asleep on his side.

Driven by thirst and now sixteen percent awake, my torso rolls off the bed so I can reach down to grab my water bottle from the floor. Must tread carefully before I reach fifty percent wakefulness — there’s no return to the land from nod after that level of alertness is obtained. In order to operate on lower wakeful percentage, my eyes close as I drain the bottle and rehydrate. I hear the empty polyethylene bottle hit the ground. Satiated, I once again collapse backward onto my flattened pillow.

Silence. Eerie silence.

Robotically, my eyes open and I stare at the ceiling. Slowly, my neck rotates and I turn to the right. Fat is exactly where she was when my mumbled warning intercepted the nighttime serenity several seconds ago.

Twenty-two percent awake, and more comprehensive than my last statement, I try again. “Fat. Ass out of his face. Now.” She’s a country away on the other side of the king size bed. The feline merely stares, a muted taunt to prompt some kind of action on my part.

“No.”

“Fat.” Somehow my vocal cords are overtaken by what sounds like my ma does when I tell stories and forget to filter for parental ears. Twenty-nine percent awake.

“I’m not done yet. I’m going to make it all the way to the top.”

I follow her line of vision through the darkness and see her intended goal. “He’s not Mount Everest, Fat. Shoo. Go on.” Still in the stages of sleepiness, the last two words mesh together and come out sounding like “Gwon.” Warning sirens go off in my head, we’re at thirty-eight percent wakefulness. Gear down now or wake up at — I roll to the left and lift my iPhone off the bed to check — 3:58 am. “Ugh.” A beat of silence before the sound of the iPhone case connects with the water bottle.

“Typical.”

I turn back over to the right and trade in my desire to yell for a stage whisper. “What’s typical?” Forty-five percent wakefulness. Stop now. Just stop. Red lights are flashing in my brain and imaginary screams of exhausted brain cells scream in agony. I sit up, losing another three percent to the side of the living. “You got something to say, fluffy?”

Fat’s paw tentatively reaches over and seeks support from Boyfriend’s cheekbone. He stirs. She pauses, waiting for him to settle. “It’s typical; when you see something you don’t like, is too inconvenient, or seems difficult you push it away. Just interesting when it happens literally.” Fat’s body drapes around Boyfriend’s neck like a hideous scarf, “You shouldn’t be so careless with your phone, by the by.”

I skip beyond fifty percent wakefulness and right to eighty-one percent awake. Hot damn. The dream of a full eight hours is over; frankly, it never had a chance. “This is about more than just the iPhone.” I kick the blankets off and crawl over to Boyfriend’s side of the bed. Picking up Fat by the scruff of her neck, I keep her hostage in midair. “Explain yourself.”

Fat’s front legs extend like Frankenstein’s monster and her back legs kick, searching for something sturdy to stand on. “Your book, dummy. Where’s the effort? You were so gung-ho to prove me wrong with that one. I have seen no progress on that front. Boss, your goals won’t realize themselves.” Fat turns to look over at the crown of Boyfriend’s head and I already see her eager to have another try at resting on his head like Davy Crockett’s hat. “Having dreams is free, but realizing them requires an output of energy from you, remember? You lazy son-of-a-bitch.”

“That’s uncalled for.”

“Daughter-of-a-bitch. My apologies.”

I toss her into the pile of my iPhone and water bottle. “That’s not what I meant, clown. For your information, I’m taking a workshop with a book agent. So you can suck it.”

Fat shoots me a say-whaaaaaat expression. She nods. “That was a motivational technique, doofus. Don’t act like I should be proud of you; you want to get published for your sake, not mine.”

This is not a good time for a breakthrough. I hate her so much right now.