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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Corpus Cat Chapter Thirteen of Thirteen



The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Thirteen of Thirteen


“He's nowhere, he's run away,” Barry tells his wife at dawn. The man wandered the neighborhood all night looking for their pet cat. The couple meets on their front porch when he comes home.

“You threw him out,” Dana rightly accuses her husband. Whereas Barry is fully clothed, she is outside in her dressing gown, furry boots and a heavy overcoat. She holds a hot mug of coffee, and despite the charge she's made against her husband, she hands him the beverage.

“Thanks,” he is courteous to say.

While he warms his un-gloved hands against the ceramic, Dana describes her evening alone. “Dodgie stopped crying after you went outside.”

Barry corrects her. “I know. That was about an hour after I left the house.”

“I thought you found him and you were coming back. I fell asleep waiting for you.”

After an overdue sip of warm caffeine, he tells his wife bad news. “I have to stop looking for Dodgie and go to work.”

“Oh, me too. What are we going to do?”

“I can't stay home,” answers Barry. He knows his wife and she would expect his sacrifice.

Without options, she tells him, “I know.”

“Too bad the moon doesn't just fall on us,” Barry wishes and he points at the huge pedigree orb plainly visible in daylight. Science says the celestial body goes the wrong way and gets closer everyday. Today, it practically dents the earth's atmosphere. The thing is Brobdingnagian.

Unconcerned with radical predictions and assumptions of astrologers and astronomers, the Corpus couple, like the whole world, are not terrified. This day is another day filled with personal worries. And already burdened, Dana rephrases the lunar event in a positive light.

“I like to think it's heaven coming down for our son.”

“Dodgie is a cat,” Barry reminds his wife, although his voice is not strong and fades into a whisper.

“What did he mean?” she asks him and makes her husband tardy at work. “He doesn't hate us. I think it's something we did.”

“Our unpaid guest did,” Barry replies more forceful than everything he's said this morning. “I tried telling him we were sorry when I started walking around the same blocks the second time. I don't think he heard me.”

“We are sorry, Charlie,” Dana shouts into the chilly air.

Come from the side the house, a patently feline voice cries, “Meow-mee.”

Both Corpus hear the sound. They move off the front steps and investigate. Dana does not say, but she feels Dodgie tried saying her name – not her name, Dana, but what she wants her child to call her.

Barry disturbs her illusion and states, “Dodgie is hurt. He's over here.”

Dana follows her husband and already asks obvious questions. “I wonder if he was hit by a car.”

The Corpus couple find their cat lying on his side against the foundation of his home. His hip is mangled and all the attached leg is broken into parts yet miraculously intact. He purr but his voice is ragged and staggered.

“Call the ambulance,” Dana shouts at Barry. She then specifies, “Doctor Peters!”

“It's too late,” her husband states.

The news is true, Dodgie stopped breathing when the Corpus couple came around the corner. The last sounds he made had come from a dead, precious pelt expelling gas. Dana immediately mourns.

“Our child died of suffocation.”

“That's not the case here,” Barry reminds her. He stays respectful and grows glum. He tells his passed cat, “Good bye, chum.”

Cat howls draw the attention of the Corpus away from their deceased pet and the couple scan the neighborhood for the terrible sounds. And the long, low screeches are everywhere. The noises come especially from above their heads.

When they look up, Barry and Dana see domestic cats atop the peeks and points of rooftops. The animals are above them everywhere. Every cat looks toward the enormous face of the moon and they all screech absent of harmony. The cats scream for the falling pagan goddess.

“They want to go home,” sobs Dana adrift in a walking dream.

Barry scowls at the little beasts. He tells the cats, “You're the wrong species, stop doing that...”

Another memory stops his partially birthed thought. “Wait, I've heard about this before.”

The revelation makes Barry Corpus feel positively psychic. Before he might enlighten his wife, Dodgie appears atop the Corpus house. When both Barry and Dana check back, they see his body is no longer beside them on the hard ground.

“Charlie's alive!” Dana screeches.

Her husband insists, “Dodgie.”

His voice trails when he says, “Our son.”

The cat leaps into the air and vanishes. Barry and Dana saw Dodgie jump toward the moon, he ascended a foot or so, then he was gone. Dana panics, “Did he fall?”

The Corpus then watch all the other cats jump off houses and disappear into the crisp sky. Their howls stop one-by-one and twice as fast, the animals, too, are gone. Soon, the morning is quiet except for early traffic and the moon appears larger than ever before.

“This happened before in a town called Ulthar,” Barry tells his wife. His vocalization isn't meant for her ears but she overhears.

Dana also listens to her husband say, “That's just a fairytale.”

She believes him.

Seven weeks after this surreal incident in Lovespark, Illinois, and when the Corpus stopped blaming each other for anything they could not understand and they still have no cat, Dana tells her husband, “Barry, I'm pregnant.”

Almost every woman in town becomes pregnant that same month. Barry knew Joel's girlfriend was already expecting, but after that morning in winter, he learned she had lost their baby. Joel once told him, “We know it's going to be boy. We'll call him Charles and think about you.”

Barry thinks about that name now and decides whatever he and Dana name their child, the kid's nickname will be, “Dodger.”


_END_ _


Do you want more? Read the strange fiction of Mr. Binger at Smashwords...


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Corpus Cat Chapter Twelve of Thirteen


The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Twelve of Thirteen


Barry goes to work the following day and he talks to Joel at the Corner Cafe. They both remember Barry bought his wife a frosted doughnut the other day and that is their morning snack today. They each have their own pastry – Joel picked one filled with raspberries. And their coffee stays black.

“Last night, that psychic was nuts,” Barry informs his business partner. “I don't know what she was doing – holding my cat in the air like that, him swimming in smoke with all his claws sticking out...”

“I hate to interrupt you,” Joel tells Barry on rare occasions. He does this once. “I'd like to tell you something important. It's important for me, anyway. I don't know what it means to our partnership.”

“Nothing, I hope,” Barry tells his friend before he's heard any confession. A sarcastic grin, completely related to the previous subject, that smile never leaves his face.

Joel chuckles. “I don't think it means anything.”

“Tell me, buddy.”

“All right,” he consents. Joel stands up then sits down and makes himself comfortable atop a backless swivel stool at the lunch counter. The man clears his throat and he tells his associate, “My girlfriend told me she is pregnant.”

Before he questions his friend about the surprise maternity, Barry first shuts his mouth and he asks Joel, “You have a girlfriend?”

Joel looks away from his partner and the electrician takes a sloppy bite of his jelly doughnut. His silence comes interpreted to mean, “Yes.”

“Good for you, man,” Barry says in congratulations. “Hold on, you're not married, are you?”

His sinister smile has stayed until now, and in telling Joel something snide, he's refreshed its puerility. But Barry is kind and he's an honest man, so he tells his friend, “I'm only kidding.”

“No, seriously,” he commands Joel and chuckles. “What have you learned from this? What are you going to do? This is good news, no matter what. You're a responsible guy.”

Joel grunts and he grins.

“And you're growing a beard,” Barry tells him upon making the observation. The first moment the men met this morning, the black stubble across Joel's face already appeared two days old. Barry hadn't said anything for no reason and only makes the point now.

Joel answers as would a sage. “Nothing stops me now.”

“No, sir,” Barry supposes aloud.

He is still joking when he tells Joel, “Dana and I are trying. I know your baby isn't born yet, but do you have any inspirational message about being a father, yet... already?”

“Yeah, I do,” he says.

The news shocks Barry and he is stunned into silence. Joel hardly ever replies to jests, but when he does, the man always delivers a message worth a listen. Both men wait and sip coffee until he composes his insight.

Upon swallowing hard, Joel tells his business partner, the one who has problems with his cat, “Hold on to what you got, because where else does a brand new life come from? It's always a new beginning, man.”

Barry contemplates the substance of his friend's message and finishes his second cup of coffee. He tells the wait staff when the young man comes near, “No more for me.”

Joel hovers his palm over the cup on the counter and he also stops eating another breakfast. Both he and Barry are finished with the Corner Cafe this day, And there is a job they must complete before noon.

The smile fades from Barry's face and he tells his friend, “Thank you, Joel.”

“Yep,” he says, or the sound may have been a misstep.

Barry does not thank him for the food because they each pay for their own. Instead, he expresses appreciation for his friend sharing his thoughts. They leave the Corner Cafe and go back to work in Joel's old van. The job isn't special and there no are difficulties. And coming upon quitting time later in the past afternoon, the whole work day finishes and totals up to an ordinary sum.

Hours of operations everywhere end when the daylight does, and that time is always earlier in the winter. Barry drives home to Lovespark at five thirty, before Dana makes her own way back from Rockford.

He goes into his home and feels himself pushed outside again. The invisible stench shoving him into fresh air comes out of the house with him and starts polluting the rest of the world. Having smelled a measured sample of the odor before, Barry recognizes the reek and who made this infernal contamination.

“Damn, Dodgie,” he yells from under the crook of his arm. Barry marches into his home and braces his arm over his nose. He makes believe he breathes out his elbow. And the smell yet penetrates his sinuses and all he accomplishes is merely muffle his voice.

The interior is night and rejects any twilight floating into the outside horizon. Inside, Barry flips a switch and he brings an artificial noon. And there in the center of the living room, Dodgie sits back unruffled, licking his paws. His bath is futile and will not clean the feces from his fur, no matter how hard and often he chomps at the clumps.

Looking up, Barry sees cat poop everywhere – all over the floor, there on the walls. He thinks at first, “It probably crawled there itself.”

Then he spots the cat again and the evidence is there on Dodgie's feet, and there on his tail making the appendage resemble a repulsive calligraphy brush. He sees above his pet and looks at the wall on the opposite side of the room. No higher than Barry's knee and scrawled with crap is the message, “I hate you.”

The words make the man enraged. And though he is angry, Barry is suddenly afraid. He imagines the phantom demons the crank psychic warned the Corpus about yesterday. Unopposed, he grabs the cat by the scruff on its neck and lets it swim and slash the air with shining silver claws. Barry opens the front door and he throws Dodgie outside as far as he can – gently still despite his fright.

The entrance comes shut and Barry forces himself to catch his breath and gulp the foul air inside his house. The door rattles once and he grabs hold of the door knob upon instinct. The cat must not be let inside, so h holds the handle fast and will not let it turn. The man fights someone on the other side whom tries.

“Barry?” he hears his wife say. “The door is stuck.”

He lets go of its knob and sees the entrance is not locked. Regardless, Dana does not enter. She wonders through the solid barrier, “Did you throw Dodgie outside?”

Barry opens the door and says, “He was bad.”

Dana smells what comes out of the house beside her husband and she knows the accusation against the cat. Even so, she raises her voice and lectures Barry. “You threw him out? Dodgie is an indoor cat.”

Although she is cold, the aroma indoors keeps Dana comfortable standing on the front walk. Barry goes outside with her and makes no complaint. The man does justify his action. “Hey, he behaved like an outdoor cat.”

Looking over his shoulder and knowing the animal's crime, she tells him, “I don't think outdoor cats do what he did.”

The entire time the Corpus couple speak outside, Dodgie never returns and try to sneak back into the house. In fact, the cat vanishes altogether. Dana looks around, blowing steam with her breath in a perfect circle once she's done turning her head.

“Barry, we talked about him last night. He might be our son.”

“Not if he does this,” Barry says and gestures into the living room. His wife does not look.

He then states, “You haven't seen what he wrote. Maybe they rainy-day chick is right, he is a demon.”

“Don't say that,” Dana begs him.

Tested, he grabs her arm and shows the woman the writing on the wall. The words and all her surroundings make her gag.

“This I wrong, this can't be right,” Dana cries. She begs her husband. “Help me clean this up. We did something wrong.”

Angry and never so at his wife, Barry surrenders his rage and he helps scrub the living room. The two of them take no more than a couple hours and finish the task. The whole time, all the windows downstairs and the front door stay open and let in a fresh and icy breeze. Dana sobs the whole time.

“We should have let him stay in his hole,” she says again and again. Dodgie does not return.

In bed after dinner and when the house is closed again, the Corpus hear a cat howl. Barry tells his wife, “That's him.”

“I know,” Dana confirms. “He sounds so far away. Maybe he's lost.”

The cries of the cat change in pitch and each one sounds out of breath, as if Dodgie expels all his air with each fit. After that while in which the Corpus spend listening to the racket from under bed covers, the voice changes. The wails shifts distinctly into a toddler's cry.

“That's Charlie,” Dana shouts and sits up. She knows the sound of their child more than she is familiar with yowl of their pet cat. She has only ever heard the newborn cry once, but she knows the sound. Barry hears, too, and he can't deny the sound.

“Go look for him, please,” she implores him. And especially for her, Barry gets out of bed and he goes outside with a flashlight.


... continued tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Corpus Cat Chapter Eleven of Thirteen



The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Eleven of Thirteen


“Okay, where is he?” Rainbow of Aurelius asks the Corpus couple. She wonders where their missing cat went. The spiritualists understands the animal never leaves their house.

“Don't you know?” Barry asks the strange woman. Rainbow casts the man a sour face.

His wife tells him, “Shh, she's not that kind of psychic.”

“I can commune with the deceased and I know portents,” Rainbow boasts of herself. “And I think I can communicate with whatever rides inside your cat.”

Dana is blunt. “Is it Charlie?”

Her husband wanted to ask the same thing at the same time, but he thought the name of their dead son might upset his wife. He is relieved she asked without hesitation.

“We will see,” is all Rainbow speculates. “Now, where did he go?”

Barry volunteers, “I saw him when I got home.”

He raises his voice and makes himself squeak when he calls his pet. “Dodgie.”

When the animal does not reply, he repeats himself and his wife repeats his chorus. They whine so high-pitched Rainbow puts her fingers in her ears. Merciful, they stop making their siren-noises.

“He's probably in his hole in the wall,” Barry tells the spiritualist.

“He lives in a hole?”

When Rainbow asked, her chin and voice dropped. Shade taints the white of the woman's robes. She then makes the question into a statement. “A hole.”

“Is that important?” Dana asks. She and Barry are suddenly fearful.

Rainbow tells them, “It's ominous.”

“Where is it?”

Barry tells her, “Behind the couch. Let me move it out of your way.”

“Thank you,” Rainbow graciously tells him. Behind them both, Dana mumbles the same expression.

Barry shoves the beige sleeper sofa parallel the wall until it bumps against the open face of a corner bookshelf, making the ceramic figurines of Dana's collection of angels rock and tinkle. Although she had said again and again, she declares this time, “Careful.”

Once an opening is exposed, Rainbow steps toward the hole and she drops herself onto her knees. And uncertain who to ask, Dana speaks to both this spiritualist and her own husband. “Is he in there?”

Rainbow replies first. “Even if he isn't, something else could be instead of him.”

After a moment spent rummaging her anorak, Rainbow pulls a stick of incense from the front pocket on the striped parka. A cheap plastic lighter materializes in her other hand and ignites with a snap and a metallic click.

A single flame is floated beneath the end of the horizontal stick until the incense catches fire. Then an enormous flame quickly spreads across the length of the aromatic resin. Black smoke rises into the room from near the floor but neither of the Corpus detect its scent before Rainbow blows out the blaze. She jabs the smoking charcoal into the hole.

“Should she do that?” Dana asks her husband. She worries about the house catching fire, primarily, and insurance then, of course, she is concerned for Dodgie.

Barry steps forward and tells the spiritualist, “Hey.”

The woman snickers. “What an excellent day for an exorcism.”

“Excuse me?” Barry insists.

Rainbow does not answer her client. She remains on her haunches and instead waves smoking fragrance from her hand hidden in a hole below her ankle in the Living Room wall. The concentrating woman chants archaic verses.

“Domine, miserere nobis.”

“Per Christum Dominum nostrum.”

“Excuse me.” Barry states.

“Domine, miserere...”

He interrupts her and insists, “What is that?”

“Nobis,” Rainbow ends. She tells him, “The Rite of Exorcism.”

Dana screeches, “I don't want to exorcise him!”

Barry argues with the spiritualist. “No it's not, those are lines right out of a movie, the Exorcist.”

“Where do you think they got it from?” she scolds him. “Rogamus, audi nos.”

“This has got to end,” Dana demands.

“You're just scared,” Rainbow proclaims.

“How much is this going to cost?” Dana retorts.

Her husband shouts at the strange woman. “Yeah, stop!”

She does stop and Rainbow pulls her hand from the hole in the wall. When she does cease her exorcism, an aromatic gust issues out of the opening and comes out as a black stream of smoke. The plucks of caught claws pulled from the carpet goes with the shadow across the room.

“Dodgie,” Dana comments on impulse. She hadn't seen the cat and only assumes that dark shape was him. She spins around and hunts where he went. The smell of lemon and an odor of pepper follow the blur and these scents are spun into the air when Dana turns. Everyone sneezes.

Even with the haze and through watering eyes, Rainbow spots the golden prize. The spiritualist sees Dodgie in an undraped window with his pointed gilded face pressed flat against the glass. Behind the transparent barrier, a fuller moon monopolizes the sky and throws light into the Corpus house brighter than any lit incandescent bulb.

“He's staring at the moon,” Dana says and blinks.

Rainbow asserts, “I told you.”

Barry asks his wife, “She told you what?”

“She's talking about the size of the moon,” she answers him.

“Yeah, I told you, too.”

“She thinks it has something to do with Dodgie.”

Barry sneezes once more and opines, “I'm not surprised.”

Rainbow is back on her feet when she orders, “Let's get him.” The odd woman throws down the spent incense stick, scattering ash over the living room floor. And automatically, the three humans lunge.

Unmindful of the charge, the cat does not move. Dodgie does growl and he moans like a cat then he says, “Moo-ooo-nnn.”

“There,” Dana shouts and stops midstride.

The declaration also bring her husband up short, but Rainbow jumps ahead and the strange psychic snatches Dodgie by first his tail then the back of his neck. The rough catch brings out a hiss and raises hair all over the body of the cat.

“Put him down,” screeches Dana.

Her husband specifies, “Especially is there's now a price tag.”

“Our baby,” she sobs.

Acting on his own defense, Dodgie vomits when he is lifted into the air. And what he hacks in place of puke is a common golden egg of wound fur. The cat coughs twice and other hairballs come out his mouth. These cling to his whiskers and do not fall to floor.

“Is he sick?” Rainbow asks his owners. She does not put him down even when she inquires, “Does he have diarrhea.”

Dana yells, “No...”

“There's a thing about his turds,” Barry tells the spiritualist. He deliberately tried sounding more obscure than the overbearing psychic.

“What?” Rainbow asks her right hand the moment slimy fur touches the fingers she has curled into the nape of the cat's neck.

She watches wads of hairy vomit continue pulling themselves from the throat of the growling feline. Gooey strands of hair bind themselves together and create little legs and tiny tentacles, and the hairballs make themselves into moving creatures. The revolting things scramble up Dodgie's neck and onto the psychic's covered arms. All the while, even more vomit comes from the living cat.

Rainbow panics. “Ahh!”

She drops Dodgie and runs away. The cat disappears, and not out through the front door. The Corpus couple watch the Rainbow of Aurelius run outside that way screaming.

“Stop,” Dana shouts after the frantic woman.

More preferable than her constant wail, Rainbow changes her message of doom into words. “I can't, I can't.”

As she screeches further away and neighborhood porch lights come on, Barry shouts after her, “It's alright, his poop was moving, too. It stops.”

“Demons, demons older than God!”

Her promulgation echoes down the dark street. While it repeats and fades, the Corpus step back into their home. Before the door is shut, Dana tells Barry, “I'm not going after her.”

He decides for them. “We'll call the cops.”

“And roundup all of Dodgie's throw-up spiders,” she reminds him. “I hope our baby is okay.”


... continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

People Can't Appreciate What I Say


Onward my daily chores, I am unconscious of most passing salutations strangers offer me. I also forget those I more often first exchange with them. We may never see each other again; such is the life of the rare pedestrian in Los Angeles. That brief moment we do acknowledge each others presence, we stay civil, sometimes vocalize then go both our ways.

The truncated encounters are a mercy this September heatwave. Here in the hills atop San Fernando Valley, the temperature reached one hundred and three a second day in a row. It was hot the week before this miserable blight exacerbated a more terrible drought. And the forecast predicts the weather will only be more bearable the rest of the month. The weather-people make no promises so Californians conserve their water. Human-wise, we people stink.

My laundry needs to be done, so what little two-day-worn clothing I wear is usually soaked with sweat. This morning, every article I selected had been waved through the air until all the moisture evaporated and nothing smelled worst than anything dirtier I might wear.

“I don't care what I wear,” I tell myself. I have yet to do laundry but my excuse has been, “It's too hot.”

Understand, the washing machines the tenants of my apartment building use to do laundry are in a separate structure, one that looks like an adobe shed accommodated with electricity, water and no doors. Doing laundry involves lingering outdoors.

My point is, “It's been and still is hot.”

At six-thirty this morning, the temperature was already seventy-three. The “Real Feel” common on websites reporting the weather (a reading that indicates how warm the air and its humidity feels against bare skin), that one suggested eighty degrees. That wasn't right, but those “Real Feel” approximations were always wrong.

The morning feels like a griddle that has just been placed upon a burning gas stove. Whereas the metal is not hot, the surface was getting undeniably warmer by the moment. If one stood outside in place until noon, the soles of his or her shoes would certainly melt against the concrete or asphalt – as this town is, again, LA, and its parks are paved.

Knowing because of my residency and middle-age about the broiling heat that was to come, I cope and I still exercise everyday. I am at that age when men no longer pay attention to fashion, but I do exercise. I don't want a heart attack or stroke. 'Me' is where I draw the line before I decide, “I don't care.”

My clothes might be sweaty and unclean, and I am often late to shave, but I am healthier than most of you. I pretty well guarantee that. Mine is the plight of a man who is not married and will never have children.

Youth.

I preserve my youth and refuse the refuges of obesity and substance abuse. Yes, I have smoked marijuana and drank beers and wines, downed hard alcohol and carbonated coolers. I will again, but these do not lift me from the remorse of raising a hopeless child to a wasted world. These sins exist purely for their own joy.

Instead of passing a horrible legacy onto another generation, I decide I will die with the vigor of the young. I will truly be ravaged before I die exhausted; probably of yet another accident or a filthy disease. Until then, I dream I will suffer none of those pangs, not while I am full of energy and I am strong.

Exercise is a foundation of such health. Diet is a second firmament. Motion and what one eats keep the machinery of people perpetually alive. So, I start my cardiovascular activity before the sun rises too high. I put a dark baseball cap on my unwashed head, hiding the whiskers on my chin in shadows even when I face east, and go outside.

The printed black T-shirt I have looks foolish on a man my age. The bankrupt business its white print advertises is not a consideration taken into account by any fashion panelist; printed T-shirts on middle-aged men are just ridiculous. This one with all it's moth-made holes is especially stupid.

“I don't care,” I tell myself. “It doesn't smell.”

The black dress slacks I hacked off above the knees don't stink, either. I suppose the pair never needed to be punished and amputated, but I did want 'shorts.' I yet needed to do my laundry, and it was, “Hot.”

Dressed in these black tatters, I stroll a memorized course through the neighborhood. There is only me walking outside, everyone else travels to work with the windows of their vehicles rolled up. They horde their own personal cool air conditioning. I cook in my own skin near the roads.

I stay under shadows where I find them. Truly, I planned my route because I knew where the dark spots fall this time of day. My path was optimized for darkness.

I rarely encounter anyone when I hike. When I do, they are usually standing over their dogs and near neighbors' yards. The weather this week helps to keep even these people indoors so the past couple days had been markedly lonesome.

When I do see someone, I am surprised.

A woman comes outside.

The old lady leaves her house wearing a clean white T-shirt and pale polyester slacks. The lady goes the same way I go. Although she started down the sidewalk fifty feet ahead of me, I overtake the woman sooner than I expect. Noon also approaches more quickly than I anticipated, rapidly shortening the shade available to hapless pedestrians like us. The ancient lady and I are cramped nearer each other so we might avoid the scorching daylight. We are not touching, but when I glance at her, I see she holds her nose.

My thought, “It's probably me,” is immediately replaced with, “It's probably both of us.”

I don't smell the woman but I do hold my breath – my age and experience had taught me a lesson I am too often reminded about. This time of year, the people in LA smell bad.

My own odor is a better musk. I think to myself, “I exercise and I try and eat wholesome food.”

“You, poor woman, probably eat frozen dinners and drink soda pop.”

I feel sympathetic and I imagine I say to her, “Oh, look at you who lost her youth. You've had children, more than one or two. That's obvious.”

Instead, I tell her from beneath the rim of my baseball cap, "We can share the shadow."

She gasps at me then falls back and into her home.

-- Mr. Binger



The Corpus Cat Chapter Ten of Thirteen



The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Ten of Thirteen


More cryptic than the moment when Dana walked through the front door of this establishment, Rainbow tells her, “Time is the same across all the dimensions.”

“This is about you?” Dana asks the oracle. She remembers this psychic woman was eager about reciting her biography.

Madame Rainbow of the Aurelius nods her head and she continues to speak. “In the past and in another reality, my soul was cursed.”

Dana cracks beneath her breath, “That is unfortunate.”

Rainbow speaks without hearing her client mutter. “And I was a small girl there, I was touched by evil.”

“Hmm.”

“I died again and again,” Rainbows says with a glum sneer. Her mood then brightens richer than the flickering atmospheric lighting. “That's how I received my powers of divination. I am highly specialized.”

“I'm sure,” Dana replies polite. “But I do wonder if you can help me – us. This is for us, Barry and me.”

“I'm listening. Forget about payment at the moment. I'm curious what you're too dense about that you just can't come out and say. Would you like some tea?”

“What's in it?” Dana asks. Because the sight and smell of this place and the woman, she feels justified and inquires.

“Camomile,” Rainbow answers with innocence.

“Sure.”

Rainbow disappears through the drapery she and Dana entered and yells back through her house. “I'll only be a second, the pot is hot. Tell me your story, I can hear you.”

“Okay,” yells the truth-seeker. Alone in the room, Dana speaks loudly to herself.

“We have a cat – me and my husband, Barry, do.”

Rainbow's voice comes through the wall. “Uh-huh.”

“Well,” Dana tells herself then pauses. “He did something unusual.”

“Unusual?” Rainbow's voice now makes her plea nearer and in the air.

“He started writing.”

Dana Corpus swallows a dry lump then states, “He says he is our dead son.”

“Oh, boy,” Rainbow comments behind the curtain then appears. Two steaming ceramic mugs precede the spiritualist.”

“Are you a medium?” Dana asks her outright. Based on television alone, she has an idea what one from the supernatural profession does.

“I have gifts,” Rainbow claims and sets a mug of hot tea for Dana on the glass-covered table top. “You telling me you have a dead son and a talking cat are big give-aways.”

“He only spoke once,” Dana clarifies. “And to me.”

“Ah.”

The noise Rainbow makes helps Dana feel hopeful. “Do you know what's going on?”

“I told you, it's the moon.”

“You certainly did,” Dana answers visibly dejected.

“Don't blow off the obvious,” Rainbow insists. “Remember the law of parsimony.”

“What's that?”

“Occam's Razor.”

Dana shrugs her shoulders. When the spiritualist does not sense she is prompted to reply, the client nods her head and raises her brow.

Rainbow takes a deep breath then explains the letter of the law. “The most simple explanation is usually the most correct, like ninety-five percent of the time.”

Seeing plainly that her client is not convinced, the spiritualist tells her, “Listen, I got an idea what this is. The name of your son was Charlie, right?”

Dana is shocked. “How?”

Rainbow now raises her brow and nods her head. “I told you.”

Suddenly unconscious of an aching tension, Dana relaxes in her stiff chair and speaks slowly so she is not mistaken. “Can you tell me if Dodgie is our son?”

“Dodgie?” Rainbow quickly inquires. The psychic is just as fast and she answers her own question. “Ah, your pet cat.”

Numb as she makes herself, the charlatanry and pageantry of the woman's announcement inspires Dana with confidence. And yet more urgent, she listens carefully for the name of her son or any reference to his passing away. Dana remains disappointed at the moment and she suffers the frustration.

Rainbow asks her, “How old is your cat?”

“Two years and he's still growing.” Dana adds, “He joined me and Barry after Charlie died.”

The spiritualist glares overlong at her client and holds an exaggerated disapproving frown then finally states, “His size is probably because what he is eating. Girth is not growth, length is a more accurate measure.”

Dana exempts her cat. “He's not unhealthy.”

“He's young,” Rainbow explains.

“Well, he's at the age where he's stopped finding new things and how old he is is all we have to say to people.”

“I'm sure your friends are grateful,” replies Rainbow as prickly as she senses Dana is becoming. “Tell me, is your cat excreting a lot?”

“No,” says Dana. “But there have been awful smells. And coincidentally, Dodgie wrote my son's name in his cat box. I didn't see it, but that's what my husband told me.”

She gasps after finishing her explanation. And after she allows mental images of a little funeral to float over her head, Dana returns to the vulgar and base discussion. She reports, “Barry dumps the cat boxes.”

Rainbow nods her knotted head and intones, “The odor.”

The psychic then makes a very important revelation. “Some cultures say the intestines are the path one's soul travels to heaven or hell.”

“Which direction are you suppose to go, up or down?” Dana asks light-minded.

Rainbow tells her, “It depends on your preference.” And that is all she she says concerning the subject. Having never sat again, she steps around her seated client and retrieves an untouched, lukewarm mug of tea.

“I want to see your cat.”

Dana twists in her chair. “Do you want me to bring him here?”

Rainbow says, “I want to visit your house. I must investigate the environment – no charge.”

“No charge?” Dana wonders once she is on her feet.

Rainbow claims, “I haven't done anything for you yet. But I think I can help. And the experience will be very enriching for all of us.”

“I do wonder about you,” Dana tells the psychic and follows the woman out the front door, out of the otherworldly Aurelius. Rainbow leads their way wearing nothing extra than the clothes over her shoulders.

“Can we take your car?” the spiritualists asks her when they are outside.

“I suppose,” Dana replies. “I don't remember I said 'yes' to anything. There's no charge, right?”

“No charge.”

Settling the agreement, the two women get into Dana's sedan and they go to Lovespark.

Rainbow complains. “You didn't tell me it's so far.”

Dana replies, “You didn't ask where I live. I thought you knew.” This time, her comment implies nothing more than the simple, concrete truth.

Invited into the Corpus house already, when Rainbow comes home with Dana Corpus, the spiritualist trots directly inside. She arrives wearing her anorak and her robes and Dana assumes she is cold. Dana shivers when she steps out of her car and onto the clean concrete drive. A wind blows and she goes from cold to freezing.

She jogs over a hard lawn and toward the house after the front door already once opened and closed. The porch light comes on before Dana reaches the first concrete stair. And the door opens when she almost touches its knob with a gloved hand.

“Who is this?” Barry shouts in panic.

“That's the spiritualist I told you about,” Dana claims and shoves him inside so she can enter. She thinks only of warmth at this very instance. When the door is closed, she has extra time and tells her husband, “She knew the name of our son. She knows something about Dodgie's farts. Her name is Rainbow.”

“Ahem,” Barry enunciates clearly.

He's caught Rainbow before she got further into the house than the interior entryway. Her apprehension is conducive to her warming up and the woman is content where she stands. When Dana walks inside, she presses them all toward the living room.

Her husband speaks to the spiritualist. He extends his hand but lets it drop when Rainbow misses the gesture and leaves her own arms hang loose. “I'm Barry Corpus. I'm happy for your visit.”

“This is Rainbow, sweetie,” Dana tells her husband while she disrobes her outerwear.

“The Rainbow of Aurelius,” says the spiritualist.

Barry goes, “Oh.”

She adverts, “I also do counseling for Tantric meditation. If you and your wife are interested...”

“What?” he wonders.

His wife says, “That's the sex thing. No, I brought you here for our son.”

“Dodgie,” Barry amends.

Rainbow is as forward with the couple as she's been so far. “Have you thought about having another child?”

Barry answers too eagerly. “Yes.”

“That could be a problem,” the tiny, aloof psychic predicts. Her comment makes Barry defensive.

“Doctors don't think so.”

“Honey, she's talking about Dodgie,” interprets his wife. Dana informs him, “She jumps around a bit.”

Rainbow glares at her and insists she is, “Spry.”

Resuming her professional demeanor, the spiritualist asks, “Okay, where's the cat?”

“Do you want to look at anything else first,” Barry offers for no other reason than he acts cordial.

“No, let's get down to it.”

“When are you going to start the meter?” Dana asks the woman.

Barry also asks, “Is there a charge?” His wife nods her head.

Rainbow lowers her voice. “Let's see who this is, first. I don't want to have to sue you for my money if I hightail and run.”


... continued tomorrow...

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Corpus Cat Chapter Nine of Thirteen



The Corpus Cat

Mr. Binger

Chapter Nine of Thirteen


Coming from her detour past the veterinarian, Dana Corpus wonders if she helped Dr. Peters understand exactly what she wanted. She first asked him, “What would make feline doo-doo move?”

She held up the transparent pickle jar and shook the stiff, sparkling feces inside. Dr. Peters raised his brow and never answered the question. She specifically remembers then telling him, “Can you look for a parasite? Dodgie is acting odd.”

Hours later and close to noon, the overhead speakers at the Superscript supermarket page an employee. “Dana, line three. Your doctor is trying to get a hold of you.”

“Why does Margaret do that?” Dana complains to Nicole, her favorite goth-chick bagger.

Busy overfilling plastic grocery bags, Nicole replies over her shoulder. “She is the manager.”

“We're working,” Dana tells a customer by mistake. She then speaks to Nicole. “Why is she telling everyone? What's wrong with her?”

“She's the boss, so it must be the right thing.”

“Excuse me, a moment,” Dana tells her next customer, an old woman layered in thin jackets. She picks up her extension and presses the number '3.'

The old woman sounds empathetic and asks her, “Is it serious, dearie?”

“It's my veterinarian,” answers Dana.

“Oh, I'm so sorry,” the lady expresses. She turns to the fidgeting gentleman behind her and says, “Let the young girl take this call.”

“Thank you?” Dana wonders a moment. She goes on break and takes the call at her station there in the lit check-out aisle.

After that moment, Dr. Peters exclaims, “Human poo. Is this a joke?”

“Dr. Peters?” she wonders before hanging up and calling the real veterinarian. He stops her.

“I hope you're not being funny. I won't waste my time.”

“What's funny about it? Barry took that sample out of the litter box.”

Dr. Peters grumpily recommends, “You should talk to your husband about this.”

He is also curious. “And what are these unidentified crystals?”

Dana knows what he talks about. All the same, she answers dazed.“That's the cat litter.”

“Yeah, what brand?”

“I forget.”

Looking away, and yet blessed with a sharp talent at eavesdropping, Nicole makes an offer to her coworker. “I can run and look. It's the shiny stuff, right? Fifth graders snort that shit and they think they hallucinate. Brain damage, for real.”

Nicole disappears before Dana comprehends what the girl just said.

“Well, I'm sorry, doctor,” she says when she apologizes to the veterinarian.

“You should be,” he tells her. “Good day,” Dr. Peters wishes the woman and hangs up.

Dana puts down her phone and spends a second looking about puzzled. The old lady next in line wakes her and promises, “Everything will be fine.”

“Thanks,” Dana says then apologizes.

Nicole returns and states. “It's called Asterisk with an 'x.' Oh, he hung up.”

“Thanks, Nicole,” Dana replies absentminded. The checker grabs and scans more merchandise off the conveyor belt. She tells her bagger what her husband has been telling her. “I don't know.”

Nicole asks straightforward. “Do you blame Barry?”

Dana frowns and the woman's chin dips below the collar of her blouse. “How far is too far?”

“Do you think this all a joke?”

“I don't know.”

Before the next customer is sorted and sent on his way, Dana begs Nicole. “How do I know if I'm going crazy?”

“Obviously, when you think your cat can actually talk to you.” The straight expression on the goth girl's face betrays none of her typical facetiousness.

After more work and biting her bottom lip until it is numb, Dana asks her assistant, “Do you have the number for that spiritualist?”

“Madame Rainbow? You're going to spend the seventy five bucks on her?”

“I don't know. Do you know her telephone number?”

“No,” Nicole states and exhales. “Uh!”

She tells Dana, “Just drive past or look the place up in the phone book – Aurelius.”

“Maybe we do need an exorcism.”

“Shh,” Nicole advises. “Take it from an expert like me, talking like that isn't good when you're in public places or at work.”

There comes a break when no customers stand ready to buy groceries. Dana spends that short while continuing her conversation.  “Oh, but palm reading and talking to dead people is okay?”

Nicole provides a thoughtful answer. “People around here are still scared of anything close to Satan. Denial, the Protestant work ethic.”

“You're over my head,” Dana responds. She often tells the bagger the same whenever she can't understand the girl or the topic makes her uncomfortable.

Nicole is accustomed to rejection. “So you know before you open your mouth, people get jumpy. I used to work at Bentry. Remember?”

Dana nods her head only because she is polite. She, herself, has never been to the rival supermarket and she knew nothing about Nicole until the girl arrived for her job. Here at Superscript, the entry-level worker spends most her time at the end of Dana's aisle.

Officially later on a designated break, Dana sits in the back room and searches Web directories on her mobile phone. She finds the Rainbow of Aurelius, located on North Springfield Avenue. When she calls its listed number – Dana guesses so she might make an appointment – Madame Rainbow never answers the telephone.

“I suppose you don't need messages when you're a psychic,” she tells herself and ends the unanswered call.

After work and before going home, Dana drives west on Auburn Road and turns left toward the home-based business of the adverted spiritualist. She checked online maps while she was still at work, and examined satellite and street-view photographs on her phone, and instantly learned how she might reach her destination. Consequently, she noted the poor state of the neighborhood in pictures before she arrived.

And it is night when she stops two blocks south on North Springfield, so the dilapidated houses don't look bad. In fact, given a frigid blowing wind, the warm lights in their windows promise their interiors are quite comfortable. Even the Rainbow of Aurelius looks cozy despite a white fluorescent spotlight shining on poor black script scrawled over a wall of the one-story residence declaring the name of this juncture into an other-world.

Dana goes straight inside the Aurelius and instantly drowns in heat and aroma. Immediately, she meets Madame Rainbow. Guiltless and instantly, she judges herself prettier and skinnier.  The younger lady, here with her long unwashed hair pulled into a frayed knot on the top of her head, looks average – an ordinary Midwesterner. But, as Dana was also born in the Midwest, she considers herself that more or less.

“Welcome,” Madame Rainbow says in greeting. “I knew you were coming here.”

Dana reacts with suspicion. “You did?”

“I saw your car pull up and I unlocked my door.”

“Thank you,” Dana grants the strange, smelly woman. Madame Rainbow reeks like dusty patchouli and ammonia. Dana thinks she smells salt, too, but she figures that's just the taste in her mouth the odors manufacture when they drift together.

“I'm Dana Corpus,” she tells the shorter lady when she introduces herself. “I have a sort of special request.”

“Oh?” Madame Rainbow straightens her back and does not appear much taller, certainly no taller than Dana. “You sound interesting already. Come in, come into my parlor and you can tell me what you would like me to do for you. I'm special, too.”

The strange woman, whom Dana now sees dressed in priestly white robes beneath a striped blue and gray Latin American anorak, takes her beneath blue velvet curtains and into an adjacent room. The walls in this space are completely draped in sallow bed sheets and fisherman nets. Electric candles – decorations suited for window dressing this past Christmas holiday – flicker from the four soft corners of the room and spread erratic illumination.

“Did you see the moon tonight?” the odd Madame asks Dana as the two women sit in opposite plastic high-back chairs.

“Yes,” she replies matter-of-fact.

“It brings something for everyone.”

Dana does not ask about the ominous prediction. Based on her experience at the Rainbow of Aurelius so far, she doesn't want to be disappointed. Doubting this experience, she tells her host outright, “I don't know about that seventy-five dollar fee.”

“Well, let's hear what you have to say,” insists Madame Rainbow.

“Okay,” she relents. “How do I say your name, madame is a little...”

“Brothel?”

“If you say so.”

The Madame tells Dana, “Relax, guys come in here looking for a massage. They leave with their palms read, if you know what I mean.”

“I'm afraid not,” she confesses but Madame Rainbow won't hear it.

The strange lady says, “Call me Rainbow.”

Dana quips, “I see a lot of blue....”

And Rainbow ignores the remark. She exacts from her prospective customer, “Tell me your special case.”

Sitting here staying warm, Dana contemplates the woman and possibilities. She soon says, “Hold on, I have to let my husband know where I am. Let me call him.”

“Of course, go ahead. No charge,” Rainbow expresses magnanimous.

Excavating the phone from her laminated clothe purse, her client mistakes stray thoughts for small talk. “At first, I wanted to blame my husband.”

“Oh, don't do that. If this is evil, that's what it wants you to do.”

“Let me tell you something about me,” Rainbow offers Dana while the mobile phone rings.

When Barry answers his end, Dana says, “Shh.”

Before her husband asks what they are doing for dinner, she lets him know, “I'm coming home. I'm investigating someone who might talk to Dodgie. I'll let you know when I get back. I love you.”


... continued tomorrow...


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Culpabiity

A reddit post posed a question I seriously pondered. I paraphrase when I state the query was about being culpable in someone's death. I've got ghosts, more than a couple, but there is one experience I feel actually possesses substance. I think I was the last person to speak to a girl who killed herself. 

This was long ago, back in southern Wisconsin in the early nineties. I was a manager at a group home for the mentally ill. They were functioning adults and given access to the small town where we all lived. Some were suicidal, yes, but I never witnessed someone die until I moved to Los Angeles. The girl I spoke with then worked at the group home I managed and she was late for her shift. Second shift.

I called her because I needed coverage and this was not the first time she was tardy or absent. Given my experience with the woman, I had been mean. She was being written up. She did sound distraught but promised she would come to work. I think her name was Karen, I don't recall, but Karen told me what I wanted to hear.

When I hung up the phone, I heard the fire alarm activate over at the fire station. The station was downtown and the group home was out of the tiny city but they were yet near each other enough that the alarm was clear. I could hear it if I were even further out in the country.

Karen's friend called the group home and asked if she was there at work. I answered the phone and told her, "No." Her friend reported Karen's apartment was on fire. And I know personally Karen never arrived for her shift.

Later, I heard from people, who were also Karen's friends and who also worked at the group home, they said Karen had lit fires all around her apartment. They were vague but I think her crisis involved a relationship. She had hung herself, they told me. That's what killed her. I said I talked to her on the phone. I heard the only fire alarm in town go off the moment I hung up my angry summons.

There was nothing I could have said, I imagine. I never respected empathy. I lack appreciation for the emotions of other people to this day. I think the fires were already lit before I talked to her. The rope was probably around her neck.


- Matthew Sawyer