Morning Glory

“Oh my God. Alice Cooper is in my apartment. Tell me how much you loved my homage to School’s Out on YouTube.”

Fat jumps onto the kitchen counter; she plays the part of a fangirl almost convincingly. The cat stares, unabashedly wide-eyed at my morning face until I pour milk into the bowl beside her. Her nose sniffs the air looking for notes of aromatic deliciousness, but unfortunately for her, healthy cereal smells mostly like the cardboard box it comes in.

I scowl at the feline when I close the dairy carton and put it back in the fridge.

“Seriously, is it costume day at work, or what? Gotta say, Boss, you nailed it.” The end of her sentence turns sing-song. The high note she hits jostles me slightly closer to wakefulness.

Fat’s mockery of my appearance isn’t entirely unfounded. To the detriment of my ego, I’ve already shuffled past my mirror twin this morning. The reflection showed a mess of stringy, unwashed hair and the unforeseen result of accidentally falling asleep before washing my face. Yesterday’s mascara bears the resemblance of a cheap Zorro mask. It’s still too early to care, especially for the beginning of the work week. I lean against the counter and shovel as much cereal as possible into my face. I stare into nothingness, trying to make the leap into alert consciousness. How did I get here already? Time shift? I must have spent the weekend like a teenager spends allowance. Stupid, wasteful fun.

I scarf down the cereal with robotic efficiency. With the speed I get breakfast down my gullet, you would hardly know I woke up just after 2:00 a.m. for a snack. Refuelling with carbs is the halftime show between dreams in my world.

Gentle scratching on my arm asks for attention and I listlessly turn my head to look at the earnest-faced feline. “You know, you could teach a Master’s class on being disgusting.”

“Thanks,” I mumble with a full mouth, sending a dribble of milk down my lip. I meet Fat’s accusatory gaze. “Point proven, Fat.” I use the crook of my elbow as a napkin. To be fair, nobody is the best version of themselves at 6:00 a.m. on a Monday, not even the Queen. Sorry, Elizabeth.

I balance the bowl against my stomach with one hand while the other pushes Fat’s backside off the counter. She lands on her feet as though her intent was to be driven to the ground.

“Huh. In spite of your trance-like state, you’re ahead of schedule.” Fat’s eyes glimpse the digital numbers on the microwave. “You usually don’t shove me off the counter until 6:09. What are you going to do with those extra two minutes?”

Rather than risk another moment of spitting milk everywhere, I point at my mess of a face with the empty spoon.

“Two extra minutes hardly seems like enough, Boss.”

Lowering the Bar

“You’ve got a little something there.”

Fat’s paw gesticulates in a circular motion in front of her furry chest.

Compared to the glorious weather outside, the apartment is immersed in darkness. I peel off my sunglasses and look down at what was, when I left for work fourteen hours ago, a flawless cream tank top. The shirt has since been violated and scandalized by a crusty smattering of brown something. From its location, the mysterious substance looks like alien areola on my shirt.

“Damn. Can’t keep it classy, can I?” I mumble and pull my top taut with one hand while the thumbnail of the opposite one picks at the dried-on smudge. I’m looking down at such an intense angle my neck folds like an accordion and becomes a double chin. At least that’s what it feels like.

“What is it?” Fat moves to sit at my heels. Her double chin flattens as she lengthens her neck to stare upward. Such juxtaposition.

I don’t think, I just act. Pinching the cotton fabric from either side of the mess, I lift the stain to my mouth.

“Boss, no!” Fat shields her eyes as though there will be some terrible backlash from my actions.

My tongue presses against the stain. It is just as I thought.

“Barbeque sauce.”

Fat carefully lowers her paw and peeks out. When she realizes that neither of us are going to die, her paw touches down to the floor and the feline sits straighter as her spine becomes rigid.

“You’re an idiot. Barbeque sauce? A brown smudge could have been any number of gross things.”

“I was at a barbeque after work, Fat. There is nothing else it could have been. Besides, if you look at the trajectory,” I mime eating and draw an invisible line from my imaginary burger to the stain on my right boob, “the angle checks out.” This is where high school math class pays off; I was wondering when this crap would come in handy.

Fat doesn’t think I notice her claws slowly digging into the carpet. “You’re so frivolous with stupid things. Nothing on your face showed sign of second thought to sticking unknown dried sludge in your mouth.” Her voice screeches with frustration.

“What’s your problem, Fat?”

“This devil-may-care attitude of yours. I just don’t understand why that’s not a blanket mentality. The therapist in me is curious, but the roommate in me is beyond tired of your moronic nature.”

“What do you mean?” I stick the soiled section of shirt in my mouth and suck the mesquite flavour.

The feline snaps, “Get that out of your mouth; you’re not a child.” She waits for me to obey before she continues. “You’re so carefree with all the stupid stuff in your life, but when it comes down to things that are important, you hesitate and drag your heels until the decisions are made for you. You lack instinct. I can’t think of a time when you’ve been attuned to your visceral gut.”

“That time in Mexico when everybody else ate at that gnarly dive bar and I had a bad feeling about it. They all ended up sick in the ‘it’s coming out of both ends’ kind of way.” I pair the anecdote with a cheeky smile. I’m pretty proud of that decision two years ago. Though, it may have been the voice in my head screaming about how it seemed like a bad idea; if I recall correctly, my gut was hungry at the time.

“Boss,” Fat draws out the word so she sounds like a serpent, “That’s not what I meant. But clearly your brain got busy rubbing elbows with the beer at the barbeque, so it’s kind of a lost cause talking to you right now. I get it. You don’t think things through. But for the sake of my sanity, can you be that way with everything in your life so I know not to have any hope?”

“I can’t promise that, Fat.” My eyes drift back down to the stain. I don’t know how I’m still hungry.

“It’s just not fair to me to know that you have the capacity to make informed decisions. If I always expect you to be a buffoon I can’t ever be disappointed.”

How to Acquire Technicolour Bruises

“Get off your lazy ass out of bed and go get some water.”

I sigh after I utter the sentence to myself. It provides laughable motivation, but it sort of works. It almost scares me how much like Fat I can sound sometimes. She can’t ever find out that she motivates my subconscious; she’d never let me live it down. I let my internal voice take over so I don’t have to tolerate my own death breath – gangrene would offer a better aroma.

What’s worse? Getting up now or hurting with hangover pain in the morning?
Yes. It sucks. You can’t bounce back like you used to.
Get up. You can do it. Get up. You can do it.

I’m a sucker for a good rhythmic chant; my brain cranks up the volume on my last thought and puts it on repeat. My head bobs along, making me feel like I’m shouting the words and dancing around a fire. Get up. You can do it. I push up to sitting, and with the grace of a mummified corpse, my feet eventually find their way to the floor.

It is at this point I realize that I’ve been sleeping on the couch. I don’t even remember getting home. However, any time I don’t pass out on the coolness of the bathroom floor after a night out is a win. No matter; I’ll shuffle off to bed after hydrating and kick Fat off my pillow; tonight she must love all the extra room for her bulky posterior.

My hip makes a popping sound as I stand up and snatch my empty wine glass off the coffee table. I sidle through the dark toward the kitchen. I don’t flick the lights on. I’ve got this; If I ever lose my sight, I could totally get by as a blind person.

Immediately after that last thought courses through my brain, karma happens. The top of my foot snags the bottom of my loitering broomstick and instinctively my hands brace the counter before I can lunge face-first and eat it. I breathe a sigh of relief that my crooked teeth didn’t take a bite out of the kitchen floor. Suck it, gravity, you missed.

The fridge opens, and I expect the scurry of feline feet, but they never arrive. I grab the water jug and fill my wine glass. I chug the whole glass and fill it again so I can take it with me to bed and avoid a second episode of forcing my body to stop being comfortable and make another trek to the kitchen. The jug gets put away and as I turn to go to bed, the drunken spins catch up with me.

I knowingly pause, hoping to wait it out, but it doesn’t happen. Instead, the hand clutching the glass stops working and the full glass crashes to the floor. It doesn’t just crash, it obliterates itself. I hear the crash echo in the dark apartment and I know I’ve just caught myself in a trap. Likely anywhere I step is an invitation for glass shards to pierce my skin. Happy 2:09 a.m. to me.

I make a move toward the light switch and my step doesn’t connect so well on the now-slick-with-water surface of the floor. Not that I don’t remember it happening, it was all very quick, but needless to say I fall, landing on my back on the booby-trapped floor. The fact that I don’t currently feel any pain is quite reassuring to the fact that the fall was graceful. A ballerina fall if ever there was one. The drunken spins vanish, but I make no effort to rise. The light switch is so far away, and currently, I feel unscathed; I’d like to keep it that way.

After a few minutes, a voice in the doorway breaks the silence.

“Go to bed. You’re drunk.”

“Shut up, Jeffry.” I scowl in the direction of the voice.

“Is that my new pet name?” The feline’s voice retorts.

I become instantly aware of two things: 1) The voice belongs to Fat and not Bestie’s husband, Jeff, and 2) My ass is soaked. I need to reassure myself: had I pissed my pants, it would have been warm wetness. What I’m experiencing is undoubtedly the water that goes in instead of the liquid that flows out.

“Sorry, Fat. Impulse. Just something my friend Jeff has said to me before.”

“You okay, boss?” I know she’s assessing the damage with her darkness-trained eyes.

“I actually think so.” Finally, I sit.

“Good. I’m going back to bed. Keep it down in here.” She’s silent on her feet, so I can’t tell if she’s still at the doorway or has padded her way back to the bedroom.

I call out, “What, no sage advice from my therapist?” I hang my head. I’m so tired, and now I have a huge mess to deal with. I must start making better decisions.

I jump when I hear Fat still in the doorway.

“I’d use a plastic cup next time.”

Undiagnosed Condition gets Diagnosed

“You are so entirely busted, young lady.”

The popcorn in my hand doesn’t make it to my mouth. Eyes wide, my focus pans left, away from the television, and zooms in on the feline. Fat smirks from where she sits on the floor.

Love Actually? You’re watching a movie about feelings.” She trots diagonally through the living room and gains enough momentum to easily leap onto the couch beside me.

“Don’t ever tell anyone.” I wipe butter-glazed fingers on my jeans and pause the live TV. “I keep getting hell from my best gals because I haven’t seen it.” I notice Fat eying my bowl of popcorn; I move it to my other side so I don’t have to contend with her trying to take some by force.

“You’re loving this film.”

“You can’t prove that.”

Her head nods in the direction of my remote-clutching hand. “You cared enough to pause it.”

“Pardon me for being polite enough to give you all of my attention.” Who am I kidding? I want to watch Colin Firth fall in love with a girl who doesn’t understand him.

“Are we going to tread down this road? I saw you watching Serendipity a couple nights ago after you got in from a late night with one of your gal pals.” A paw reaches out to nudge me playfully in the ribs, “You love romantic movies.”

It is only after I shamefully bury my face in my hands that I fret about a pimply outbreak from contact with my popcorn fingers. I’ll have to exude my apparent shame another way; like a frightened turtle, my head pops inside my t-shirt and I hide out.

“I don’t. My body must be generating excess estrogen this month.” I observe the sleek butter stains on my shirt. I can’t figure out my own weird behaviour. I’m almost surprised I haven’t stooped to the level of wistfully watching Titanic or The Notebook.

“What’s next? The Notebook? Titanic?

It’s not her judgemental tone that draws me out of the t-shirt, so much as my worry that she’s using some kind of x-ray device that interprets thought patterns. She squints when my eyes peer out of the neck hole. With the movie still paused, the living room almost echos with quiet.

“You’re acting like an idiot.”

“I’m sorry?” I yank the bottom of my entire head and neck come out of hiding.

“No need to apologize for something you’re good at.” Fat crosses my lap to sniff at the ikea bowl half-full of popcorn.

I flick her ear and she stops her advance on my movie snack. Instead, she settles herself on my thighs and stares at my face.

“I’m pretty certain I know why you’re acting like this.”

“Please. Share with the class.” My arms open widely as though I was displaying an entire audience sitting amongst the furniture in my living room. I pick up the popcorn bowl; I’m the kind of full where I’m aware that I’m not hungry anymore, but if the popcorn is beside me, I’m going to keep inhaling it until every kernel is gone.

“Boss, you need to get laid. This behaviour of yours is driving both of us crazy.”

I accidentally drop the bowl on the coffee table, sending some bits flying. Mutt scuttles over and starts gobbling up the little treats as fast as his greedy mouth can manage.

“Fat, we’ve talked about this plenty of times. I’m not dating right now…”

“Ban on Boyfriends, yes, I know.” Fat interrupts and rolls her eyes. “I’m not talking about dating, fool. This whole scene,” Fat points at Colin Firth’s frozen face on the screen, “is not what you’re about. This sappy shit has to end.”

I grab the remote and press play. I don’t even know what to say to Fat right now. I’m aware this isn’t what I would generally watch. Though I suppose I have actually been watching Cosmo TV lately. A Walk to Remember should be on right after this movie. The idea of an afternoon double-feature makes me giddy. And then I realize… I turn to Fat, horrified. She’s right.

“You look like you’re going to throw up. Too much butter on your popcorn or is the therapist’s analysis on the money again?”

I don’t answer. Instead, I greasily slide off the couch, race to the bedroom to change my shirt, slide on some shoes and grab my bag.

“I have to get out of here.”

Fat shouts after my frantic exit, “Don’t come back until you get your freak on.”

Picking Up the Pieces While Fat Falls Apart

“When I look in the mirror I look like a cat. Am I actually a middle-aged man?”

There was a shift in Fat’s mood only a moment ago when her purring stopped. I’m lying with my stomach on the carpet, petting her. Fat’s eyes, which were closed with happiness, are now wide-eyed with concern. Her head tilts to the side, impatient that I haven’t answered her question within the half-second of silence that followed her voice.

“I don’t generally spend afternoons brushing and petting middle-aged men on the floor of my living room, Fat.” I scratch the top of her head; she remains nonplussed.

“Plenty of fetishes out there, boss.” The feline’s face sparks with realization. “Oh. Was your sarcasm because you’re an old hag that nobody wants? Sorry. So insensitive of me.”

I sigh, not because I’m exasperated, but because I’m still waiting for her to tire of casting me in the part of an old maid. Her understanding of my self-imposed ban on boyfriends lapses from time to time.

“What makes you question your outward appearance?” My fingers rake through the hair on her back. If she’s been trying to Freaky Friday one of our male neighbours into a body-switching incident, I’d like to know about it.

The corners of the feline’s mouth point downward, pouting. “Because I’m going bald. My hair is coming out in clumps like I’ve been going through chemotherapy.”

With almost precise timing, my hand lifts off her spine with rouge grey hairs clinging to my fingers. Fat’s gaze shifts to my fur-filled hand and I can almost see her ego shatter.

“We can always give you a comb-over.”

Fat hisses.

I blow on my hand and Fat and I both watch the short cat hair scatter into the air like dandelion seeds.

Fat’s chin lifts up and she follows the aerial acts of disconnected pieces of herself. “That was a pretty dumb move, boss.”

Damn hindsight. “I’m going to have to re-vacuum. And dust.”

“Yup.” Fat’s broken ego seems to have been momentarily patched back together. She sits up straighter and she looks around the rearranged living room and newly-hung pictures. “You really got everything here changed around pretty quickly after the ex-boyfriend moved out. Looks like when you’re properly motivated, you actually get things done.”

“Well,” I push up to a kneeling position and rest my hands on my hips, it was a bit of therapy. Needed to reclaim the space as my own. Moving would have been the ideal option, but I’m poor. And lazy.”

“Except even though you needed it, you didn’t ask for help.”

My upper lip curls into an I-didn’t-need-help sneer. No words accompany the face I give the feline, she knows what I’m asking.

“Boss, please. Even though it was hilarious watching you struggle, it took you forever to move that mammoth couch.”

“I did it though, didn’t I?”

“I just worry that the next time you need to do something like that, your hip is going to pop out of its socket. Yes, clearly you can manage on your own, but you should ask for help when you need it.” There’s a brief pause where the feline looks at me with concern, she starts to say something, then stops herself, then second-guesses her decision not to say whatever it is and says it anyways. “You get that I don’t just mean the changes in the apartment physically, right? And when I say ask for help…”

“I got that, Fat. I’ll take that advice like you did when I suggested a comb-over for your bald patches. It’s making you crazy that I haven’t fallen to pieces.”

“Watch yourself, old lady.”

“Mind your baldness, old man.”

The April Showers/May Flowers Phenomenon

“I’m going to hazard a couple guesses.” The yellow flecks in Fat’s eyes become more noticeable when she happily drinks in my disheveled appearance.

“Digging for buried treasure.”

I shake my head.

“Hmm. Should have gone with my original instinct: grave robbing.”

I shake my head again, groan as I bend over and undo the clasp on Mutt’s leash.

“I fear I just gave you an idea for a future hobby. That’s the price you pay with guessing games, I suppose. Alright, one more and I’ll give up,” Fat’s paw taps thoughtfully against her chin. “The roadrunner outsmarted you again? Tell me you held up a hilarious sign before falling down that cliff.”

I shake my heads and kick off my puddle-soaked runners. My jeans cling to my skin from being so wet; I wrestle myself out of my pants and stand in the hallway in my boy shorts and coat. The hood still covers my hair, though it didn’t save me from the harrowing journey I just faced. I stand there for a few minutes, feeling Fat stare, knowing she’s still waiting to hear what happened.

“That was a debacle.” I finally speak and toss the leash I’m still holding on top of my sopping pants that are now curled in a heap on the carpet.

Fat leans her neck out from the kitchen counter, giving me a face that prompts me to explain.

“It seemed like an easy enough favour: go down to the marina and take some pictures.” My friend, who does the social media for the marina, was out of town. I stare inwardly, oblivious to Fat leaning even closer and almost falling off the counter. “The sun was shining when I left.” I pull out of my abyss and my pupils dilate to see Fat come into focus, “Right?”

Fat slowly comes to realize that what I’m looking for is confirmation. She nods. Yes, the sun was indeed shining.

“I made my tea, leashed Mutt and went for a wander down by the water.” In the ten minutes it took for me to get to the marina, an evil wizard cast a spell to overtake the blue sky with black cloud. Once I got there, things just didn’t fall into place.

“The marina office was closed.”

I close my eyes again feel the frustration of when I found out that I’d missed their hours of being open for business. I had a great plan to sweet talk somebody into letting me inside the locked gates to get some decent pictures. Since the weather had turned, the other sea dogs had hunkered down indoors somewhere. The marina was a ghost town. I had to get creative if I was going to get some shots of the boats, float homes and ship yard.

“Then the rain started.”

It was a light patter for about a minute or two before it really came down. Puddles from the night previous still littered the parking lot and areas between the paved walkways. Unfortunately, the only vantage points for pictures from the marina’s perimeter were off the walkways – lacking forethought and graceful movement, I sloshed my way through a baker’s dozen of those miniature lakes. As I balanced to take pictures with one hand, my other hand held Mutt’s leash and my tea tucked neatly into the crook of my elbow.

“I had to climb a fence.”

I peel off my jacket and roll up my shirt sleeve. Across my forearm are several purple marks that will inevitably turn into bruises. When I arrived at the shipyards, I had to pull myself above the chain-link fence to snap a couple pictures. It’s a good thing there wasn’t anybody at the marina – I’m sure it didn’t look like my actions were on the up-and-up.

“Mutt went crazy.”

The dog, tired of this horrid adventure tried to escape his leash. In doing so, he got it tangled around three of his legs and one of mine. I bent down to unknot the mess, leading to the next incident.

“I spilled tea all over my pants.”

I forgot that my tea was tucked in my arm and as I bent down, the scalding, honey-sweetened liquid gushed out at my mid-thigh and ran all the way down to my ankle. I hadn’t had a sip of it as it was too hot to drink, so my pants became delicious and left me burning in a non-STI kind of way. The grotesque weather changed the temperature of my wet leg instantly. It went from bloody hot to freaking cold. With the cold came misery. But misery didn’t come alone, it came with a handful of random curse words that flew screaming from my mouth; misery loves company, after all.

“It started to hail.”

I was getting a few pictures of float homes before Mutt and I departed. The rain had stopped, Mutt and I were both more wet than dry and then we were getting pelted by Mother Nature’s icy spitballs. I took that as the last sign that it was time to come home.

“Then the rain really started.”

Walking uphill in torrents of rain after such a terrible time seems like the kind of tale a grandparent would tell of when they were a kid. But it’s true; it was awful.

“The pictures I got aren’t very good.”

Fat, surprisingly, has not abandoned her interest in my simplistic recounting. It’s one of those moments that I don’t hate her. She’s still sitting on the kitchen counter, tail curled tight around her body, head cocked slightly to the side. It makes me uncomfortable when she actually listens. I was expecting jack-ass style laughter to burst out of her.

“You should make yourself a fresh cup of tea and have a bath, boss. Today isn’t your day.”

“It hasn’t been my month, Fat.”

Fat ponders this and nods in agreement. “Yeah, April really blew chunks for you, didn’t it? No worries. A new month starts in a matter of hours. Chin up. Also, it’s about time to get an umbrella. This is Vancouver, fool.”

Seeking the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

“Awfully quiet around here.”

I don’t see Fat until the light from the fridge casts its light across the kitchen floor; she sits right in the middle of the laminate. Like a startled old lady, I clutch my chest with fright. Perhaps not so much fright as an attempt to uphold decency, my lilac robe isn’t exactly tied tightly and my birthday suit needs to be ironed. I’d rather be confronted by the four horsemen of the apocalypse than this feline with self-appointed shrink cred. I grab what I need, and Fat vanishes from sight when the fridge door closes. God bless darkness.

I unscrew the cap of the bottle of orange juice. “Boyfriend’s gone for the weekend. Off on a quick road trip to see some of his boyfriends.” With more momentum than I expect from myself, I tip the bottle backward down my throat. Twin rivers of OJ pour out the corners of my mouth, dribble down my chin, neck and non-cleavage and get absorbed by my house coat. Shit, that’s cold. Once it dries it’ll be sticky too. I need to switch to water when I wake up thirsty at two a.m. “I’m surprised you weren’t aware of his departure. You’re always eavesdropping and scrutinizing everything. Feels like this whole apartment is under surveillance.” As a classy dame would, I gently dab my face on the sleeve of my oversize house coat.

“It’s behavioural observation.”  There’s a break in her speech where I hear what sounds like a yawn. “Speaking of, I can’t help but wonder why you shuffle around stubbing your toes in the dark when there’s nobody here to disturb.”

The sound of a small click causes the entire kitchen to light up. My fingers pull away from the switch. “Habit, I suppose.” The throb in two of my left toes is well-founded; they’re on the verge of being classified as maroon. I’m the proud owner of one normal-looking foot and one damn ballerina’s foot. Gross.

“Any plans while he’s away?” Fat hopefully goes and sits next to her food dish. She looks at her skewed reflection in the bottom of the metal bowl and up at me. Your subtle persuasion won’t work on me this time, Fat.

Making sure the lid is secure on the juice, I put it away. “Estrogen-fuelled weekend.”

“Lesbian time. Got it.” One of Fat’s eyes shoots me a quick wink. She’s still under the strong impression that in the past I’ve been sweet on the ladies as well as the fellas. This wonderful miscommunication is due to an unfortunate story I once shared with her about a time I took a pie to the face. Fat is under the strong impression that this is a euphemism. I’ve given up trying to correct her; it would make her theory all the more concrete to find out it was a cream pie I took to the kisser. Coconut cream if I recall correctly, I was too busy trying to salvage my makeup to press the detail of flavour into the pages of my memory.

“I’m just hanging out with my best gals, we’re in need of a good pow-wow. Nice to see them in person as opposed to texting or Facebook.”

“Call it what you will.”

I sigh, and try to get the conversation away from sexuality. “The only fellow I’ll be spending any time with this weekend is Mutt.”

“Yeah. Where is he?” She doesn’t even whip her head around to pretend to care.

“I don’t know. Sleeping. Lazy bastard, that one.” I tighten the tie on my house coat.

Fat doesn’t respond. Instead she looks helplessly at her still-empty bowl. She’s almost instantly struck with another idea to get what she wants. Playing nice is difficult for Fat.

She scuttles over and weaves in a figure eight around my ankles. “Boss, you deserve a weekend to yourself. You should make yourself a massage appointment or a pedicure or–” She stops abruptly and starts screaming, “MY EYES, MY EYES!”

Full of concern, I kneel beside Fat.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong with your eyes?” I look up at the kitchen light; the bulbs were just changed. Those energy-saving bulbs are fucking bright. How many watts are those?

Her voice sounds weak, like she’s on her deathbed muttering her last words, “I… I shouldn’t have looked up. I’ve never been fond of pie.”

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.”