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