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  • Writer's pictureSylvia Schwartz

Final Call

Last night, a friend jumped

off the George Washington Bridge

to say enough is enough.

The extended spin cycle is on and the

Maytag washing machine wobbles

and bangs against the walls. It feels

like it will go on forever.

Lazarus, my shelter cat, slowly wakes.

His lithe body stretches farther than

humanly possible. There are some things

humans are not meant to do. Not supposed to do.

Just moments ago he was a ball, curled up,

happily, on the window’s ledge.

When my friend called last night from

New York, he said he wanted to reminisce

about the old college days. To laugh about

goofy times. But they didn’t seem funny

to me any more. I was glued to my work.

I was worried about a deadline. I said, I don’t

have time. He told me he was drinking

a beer. Imported. From Germany. I told him I

was drinking wine. Domestic. From

California. We laughed. My TV was droning

on in the background. I meant to get up

to turn it off. I kept looking for the remote.

Why are we always losing things? The Maytag

has finally stopped, everything’s wrung out.

One day it will die. I don’t care what

that repairman commercial says.

Commercials lie. It was a Heineken commercial

that aired while we talked. I told him, I like

the music. He said he knew the tagline:

Open Your World. It was the beer he was

drinking. He said, it’s good. I believed him.

My cat jumps down from his perch. He lands

so gracefully. Barely a sound. I have my TV

set to mute. I told him, it’s hard to hear him.

He said it was his cell phone reception.

He said he was outside. He said, it’s

windy. I told him, it’s raining here. I was happy.

It hardly ever rains in LA. It’s not raining now.

It’s sunny. You can’t even tell it rained. No trace

of it anywhere. The cell phone call dropped.

I left a message for him to call me back.

To call from his landline when he got home.

My cat has come to curl up at my feet.

I pick him up. He lets me. He knows

I’d never let him fall. But what does

he really know? He’s just an old shelter cat.

Originally published in The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society

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