Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the tale of the shark, the tabby cat and the disappearing bus

One Halloween night, a shark and a cat named OC (who looked, to the untrained eye, much like a generic tiger but was in fact OC—orange tabby, Mid-City resident, connoisseur of plastic bags and popsicles) set out to have some West Hollywood fun. They had plans to meet their friend the vampire at the KBIG stage, where Tiffany was performing. (This was what happened when gay men found corporate sponsorship—Tiffany got gigs again.)

They drove to the house where OC was cat-sitting and fed Mao, Miso and Stripe, who were not especially worried about being care
d for by a giant member of their species and a shark who had recently eaten a scuba diver. From there, OC and the shark walked to the bus stop, where they waited.

And waited.

And called the shark’s roommat
e to confirm the bus schedule.

And waited some more.

Finally, the shark said, “Can we go back to Jamie and Lee-Roy’s house for a little while? I’m freezing.”

“Of course,” said OC. “I’m weari
ng a wool sweater, but I forgot—you’re cold blooded.”

As they walked back, OC tried to explain how, sometimes, when buses just never showed, he felt like he was living in the eerie, magical LA he’d written his undergraduate thesis on, but which he tended to forget about now that he was a practical, efficient grown-up. He’d forgotten the beauty of things not being what they appeared.

His brain was doing funny things lately. It was feeling guilty and restless and wondering if its little fictional pursuits could really change anything in the world, because surely it was his duty to change the world. Surely beauty and curiosity were not enough. He was excited—and filled with trepidations, because he knew how good and relevant the book would be—to start reading You Shall Know Our Velocity. Even though he was only on page 25 now, it was good and relevant, and seemed to be about survivor guilt, and OC lived his life weaving in and out of various degrees of survivor guilt, to the point where sometimes his brain shouted at him, Just do something. Just fix something. Other times it said,
Hush, hush, you’re just a little cat. Just lay down and purr.

It was funny, all this guilt and restlessness, because usually all OC wanted was a firm head-scratch and the milk in his mistress’ cereal bowl.

Back at Jamie and Lee-Roy’s, OC and the shark lay down—just for a minute, but that minute quickly turned into the whole night.

In the morning, the shark said, “Sorry we didn’t make it out. But I’m glad we dressed up anyway.”

A smile spread between OC’s whiskers. There was a time, not so long ago, when he would have put such a night in the Things That Did Not Get Accomplished column. But he liked the way the shark thought. He liked the idea of a world where some nights, you got dressed up just for yourself, an invertebrate friend and a few local felines. That was the city he wanted to live in.


Tracy Lynn said...

Awesome. :-)

Schrodinger's Kitten said...

You need to write a book with different cats as heroes...this story meets prettiest shelter kitty. I swear, it'll be on the NY TIMES best seller list.

Cheryl said...

I have a family friend who wrote a book called Magnificat, about a cat who goes to heaven. Maybe cat books are my destiny.

Jamie Asaye FitzGerald said...

The apartment is very pleased to have been host to an orange tabby and a philosophical shark.

Cheryl said...

Mao, Miso and Stripe were excellent hosts.

Lee-Roy said...

You're so method. Way to commit to your role as OC. Funny how you and OC have so much in common, though. The whole fiction-writing thing? I never realized. And your shark friend does have a good attitude. Much needed if you ever try to do anything on Halloween, as they can just be like that. Too bad we're too old to go trick or treating.

I'm sure Mao, Miso and Stripe appreciated the overnight stay, by the way.

Cheryl said...

It is too bad. OC and I share a sweet tooth too. Although only one of us eats candy wrappers.