My dog and cat ran away together. They’d been conspiring, waiting ‘til winter so they could cross the lake, knowing I can’t stand cold, detest arctic wind, and don’t trust the thickness of ice. Both of them were calico, so they had a lot in common, despite their difference in species. They told each other that they lived in a post-species world, and were thus mutually reassured.
It was a lonely morning when I awoke and padded into the cold living room to find them gone. I knew right away what had happened, as I did when my wife left me, even before I found the note she’d nailed to the black walnut cutting board I’d given her one Xmas. It was beautiful, dark and severe, like her, but she’d showed no enthusiasm for it.
My dog and cat agreed with her: I could be a condescending bastard, and insensitive.
They’ve only been gone a couple of days but I’ve already forgotten their names. There are more dogs and cats in the pound. They see me coming and shrink away. They can tell the kind of man I am, not abusive, but capable of sucking all the joy out of a room—that’s what my wife told me. That’s what the woofs meant, the sour meows.
So I was abandoned, lonely and had money troubles, and then I ate an e-coli burger with cheddar.
The nurses’ shadows are those of Joshua trees. It’s suffocation Centigrade in the ward. I am as parched as a dried fig, but they won’t give me any water. All the other charity cases look like Charles Bukowski, one per bed. One Bukowski is sucking off another. One Bukowski is sweating piss, saying: This is the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Joshua trees stick needles into my arm, set up a drip. One tree says: I’ve never seen anyone this dehydrated. Your body is a desert.
She and I are desert rats. I ask her if she can find me some Viagra, or that other stuff. She says: Your body is a Rubbermaid cabinet stocked with disease and tools for which there are no longer any functions.