Jim Meirose


               They eat breakfast, as the cat prowls howling.
               Why does that cat of yours walk around howling like that?
               You mean meowing—
               No. Howling. There’s a difference.
               Brain the kettle let the science fail there are no reasons there is no logic why was the earth formed why was the universe formed brain the kettle its whistling turn down the gas with the knob clockwise no counterclockwise when the kettle’s steaming it’s easy to shut up easy to gag shut the kettle gas burn, burn the flames, higher, higher, and higher—the water’s hot turn and throw it in the face of the intruder boiling oil would be better but the average household wouldn’t have a pot of boiling oil on the stove or a pot of boiling water actually the water in the kettle that whistles isn’t really something you can throw in the face of the intruder the spout’s too small okay bad idea—just grab a steak knife and push it into their gut watch them stumble back with their eyes bugged all bloody.
               Please stop that cat!
               I don’t know how to stop him—he’s fed—
               Fed’s a word dick cunt penis vagina pussy are all words just words like fed fed’s a word a word only it can mean a lot of things fed up federal the cat has been fed like that how many more meanings for the word fed every word has many meanings every meaning has many interpretations not to bore you with the facts—get up in the morning give the cat water get down the cat food dump the bowl scoop cat food into the bowl that’s the routine for the life of the cat that’s what fed means yes that’s what it means besides scooping the litter the shit and piss out of the litter the dust a great deal of dust comes up depending on the brand of litter you use but more or less, they all give a cloud of dust and you hear the cracking sound of the teeth on the hard food and you know the cat is eating you do wild is the cat wild wild wild the cat shoots into the sky it is so wild it would shoot into the sky exploding with wildness if such a thing were possible but it ain’t. Or it isn’t. You decide.
               My God it is driving me nuts!
               The cat is cruel claws teeth wants prey needs prey something small something warm something to kill to rip to tear—
               Violence murder viciousness the sky stretches across encompassing all of it it and its opposite kindness mercy compassion under that sky it all happens all the things that go with what the cat is saying murder I want to do murder that’s what the cat is saying murder to fill my stomach my mouth murder to get something inside of me all bloody oh I lay here all pretty all sleepy and lean but the prey passes through the cat comes out the other end after being processed comes out all shit all piss no matter what goes in it looks like nothing but a turd when it comes out a pretty chicken a pretty goose a mouse a blue jay pretty pretty pretty robin sparrow finch all murdered to nourish the cat the way of nature no it’s not murder well why isn’t it what if we kill a person and fry them up in the pan does that make it not murder we don’t quite understand a slice of thigh a nice slice of thigh a nice slab of meat meat is meat you know once it’s in the pan it’s no longer the thing it was it’s only meat once it’s in the pan all meat is red and bloody sliced off all meat is ugly and unappetizing raw unless you like raw meat some people like their meat raw what kind of people are they huh what kind of God-damned people.
               The cat cries for something soft full of blood full of meat of guts cries out—
               Why don’t you give him something to eat?
               Pardon pardon pardon pretty cat lying there all pretty thinking of one thing one thing only where is my next meal will it be soft will it be crunchy will it be slimy rough rotten dead alive kicking fighting running asleep flying landing what will it be scratching clawing biting fighting or will it just lie there begging to be eaten torn and ripped at bit at chewed swallowed filling my great fat belly it’s all furry it’s all furry the prey and the belly both walk along the strand, take in the beauty of the water that hides many living things—just a big sheet of smoothness you can fall through and down there are many living things with bones and mouths fins and gills worth eating too under the sea, under the sea, that’s nonsense the sea floor is under the sea and its squashed flat the fish are not under the sea the sea is a big heavy gloppy bunch of wetness laying in a hollow in the earth miles wide miles and miles and miles and miles so why don’t you give the pretty cat something to eat from the sea just lay a fish there all flapping and gasping just lay a fish there and see how fast it is processed through the cat into shit and piss and whatever because that’s what it is it’s a process.
               His bowl is full—
               Prowl the fields—prowl—smell something—smell something—something is near—
               I hope your presentation today goes well.
               Stand in front of your God-damned peerpeople or at least some of them are most of them are really big shots shits shoot shunts shifts put up your slides put them up this arrow points here and here and here and here and this page say this and that and it should impress you make you say wow look at that lookit—it really is saying something all those lines and clouds and words and big and small pictures and arrows pointing and it will make you seem less like prey—more like one of the predators not bone flesh and guts brains to be devoured but all teeth claws sharp eyes sharp nose to smell out smaller weaker prey it will take guts to get up there but yes you’re full of guts slimy sliding mucusy looping it will take brains to get up there but yes you’ve got a brain grey and soft and wet and still and quiet in the dark of your thick skull always in the dark yes your brain is always in the dark should that not tell you something should that not mean something the guts the brain yes always in the dark you should be illuminated transparent and full of light your presentation but no you’re always in the dark inside what business have you giving a lit up bright shiny presentation talking as though you know something you know nothing.
               It’s all in the preparation—I’m prepared. That’s the key—
               The birds fly above but there are no birds—the mice are in the grass but there is no grass—there is only this room this rug these smells smell something there’s something—
               Lift head look—
               Living things move that’s the secret—moving—that’s how it starts they’re stupid enough to move oh there’s no danger there’s no danger out into the room walk like a walk on the path through the woods all covered with dead fallen leaves crunching underneath making noise noise is the enemy make noise no not words but noise doing your fancy presentation to the big shits from your black insides you’re making a big mistake stepping up there and making noise and making light and showing slides they will pounce on like you’re some kind of prey gone up there into the open to be cut down made a fool of questioned and criticized walk into the open your black insides can’t see out can’t see the danger you’ve only got your eyes and your ears to sense danger with walk the leafy path the sun comes down through the branches making mottled shadows on your face it’s all so good among the living things that don’t move the trees the plants all safe and sound not to be processed like you’re about to be processed as you’re up there talking like a big shot all out in the open the sun is warm the breeze is mild its safe its safe its safe keep talking pointing out all the wonder of your slides.
               I am going to end up braining that cat—
               No you’re not—you love him—he loves you—
               Meeeeooooowah! Look—
               As you point your pointer there is a clearing ahead—a long wide clearing to be crossed—one not so well thought out, not so well reasoned—gloss over it you’ll glass over it gloss is shiny bright and new you are shiny bright and new on the outside dark and slimy and bloody on the inside the perfect meal like the perfect storm go out into the clearing, look—it is surrounded by harmless trees walls there is grass underfoot no leaves have fallen here no dead crunchy leaves to remind you of the coming winter winter is when food is scarce and the snow comes down covering the food what food there is lying around is covered the birds the squirrels the small prey have no food or water the water’s all frozen and you’re on that slide now all frozen with bullshit and guesswork, the brain was soft you guess when you did this one, it could have used a few more edits but the snow and ice is there and there’s no getting around that so there you are all exposed no facts to shore you up all light on the outside all black on the inside soon to be opened up soon to be processed.
               Look! There is something there’s something what’s that what—
               Look—he sees something—
               Something shadowy writhing wriggling prey prey—
               A hand shoots up to stop you a question, no, no not now the food’s all under the snow and ice questions—questions have bite teeth lips gums and piercing eyes in a demon’s face and the question’s coming out slow oozing slime through the mouth and its come over you making your outside as dark as your inside the words line up to give an answer—dick cunt penis vagina ass rectum pussy sphincter—no none of those words are any good—bit slime pluck cut sever saw slice—no none of those words are any good—scramble fast for words the question’s almost out there can’t be a gap between the end of the question and the start of the answer that would mean you’re caught that would mean you’re prey that is caught and are about to be processed by the big shot the big shit they will all come at you like sharks smelling blood blood blood there’s the smell of blood in the water it’s the silence; red red silence all crimson and boiling you stand mouth open in the center of the clearing the predators coming swinging claws biting teeth flashing in the water the bloody water that surrounds you now.
               He does—
               What what what is that moving there in the shadow what is that moving what—
               Now move now run there—time for silence now time for the hunt—
               Look—look there—
               Break—break and run. Run across the grassy field between the surround of trees and where it is safe run toward where it is safe in the open run say something the question must be answered somehow with some words some words not the words from before but words—yell go out the falls go over the falls onto the rocks and the answer if the blood in the water rushing off the rocks after you fall off the falls but that hasn’t happened yet there’s still hope run run run run out in the open, the worse place; naked out in the open.
               A centipede!
               I’ll get it—where’s a tissue—there—hand me the tissues—
               I come up I come up on it it’s—
               A hand sweeps down over it.
               Suddenly, darkness all around—from somewhere above. Must be from God! God! Smother smother smother the light on the outside is suddenly gone the outside is as dark as the inside its all dark dark smother smother smother.
               Got it!
               Walks to the bathroom. Into the bowl. The rush of water—
               How disgusting what was it—
               A centipede—
               Drowning—the water spirals—it takes you—it takes you—where God wants you to be which is what we’re taught will happen to all of us in the end.
               My prey they took my prey where is my prey—
               Good kitty!
               Yes good boy!
               Does his job doesn’t he?
               Dying. And unprocessed. Unprocessed to rot. But where? Heaven? Hell? It’s impossible to tell—could they be one and the same—could they? Could they? Could I just have found out a great truth—a great truth, here, at the end?
               Sure does! Here kitty—
               Their hands on me—their hands rub on me—on my head my head—
               My prey—
               Why’d they take my prey?

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in Otoliths multiple times and also in numerous other magazines and journals, including Collier's Magazine, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published and his novels Claire, Monkey, and Freddie Mason's Wake are available from Amazon.
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