Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
January 23
Agent Provocateur
Yes, have some.
Distinctly undistinguished. Strictly working-class. Misanthropic humanitarian. Lifelong observer and student of the human condition. Wild man in the closet, nut behind the wheel. Wanna go for a ride?

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 11:20PM

Ralph, Part 4: I’m Not Here

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“It’s going to be all right, Ralph, hold on!” she says, leaving the room. I hear her clattering in the closet and she comes back with rubber boots on and a mop in her hands. She splashes through the puddle to the broken light, snags the cord with the mop handle and pulls the plug from the wall. 

“It’s okay now, Ralph. It’s all right,” she says soothingly, dropping the mop. But all I see is the water getting closer and closer. I’m flattened against the wall, hissing and spitting, when the water finally touches me. Though the water isn’t bad anymore I leap in the air from nerves. 

She comes towards me, arms out, “Ralph, Ralph, its okay, its okay, nothing’s gonna hurt you, kitty.”

I’m scared, confused, angry, and hurt. You! It’s you doing this! You’re messing with me again! 

I streak across the room pissing myself, yowling wildly, and sprint up the stairs. I need to be somewhere dark and warm and quiet. I need to get away, to be alone. I get to her bedroom and there’s a tear in the fabric covering the underside of the box spring. It’s just big enough for me to wriggle through. I crawl inside and get settled. Downstairs, I can hear her slowly, quietly thumping and shoveling and scraping and mopping. It’s quiet in the house. She’s not even playing her music. 

My nerves are shot. My skin twitches and rolls in waves over my body in remembered pain. I lick my paw where the lobster got me. 

I’m so confused. At first I thought she had something to do with it, that she was messing with me like she does with the laser pointer. But she wasn’t laughing at me. Then I think it’s her fault because she let something bad happen to me. I begin to think she let me get hurt on purpose. She’s supposed to protect me. That’s her job. But then I think about how I broke stuff and made a big mess, and I know it makes her mad. But she isn’t angry at me. My little brain doesn’t understand. I’m so confused. 

Gradually the sounds of cleaning diminish. I hear her making her way up the stairs and enter the bedroom. 


I stay still. 


I see her legs appear through the tear in the fabric. She bends down and I see her face peering in at me. Damn. She’s found me. 

“Ralphie? It’s okay baby, you can come out.” 


“Okay, okay, I’ll leave you alone, it’s all right.” 

I’m forlorn. The whole world is against me. I don’t know my place in it. I brood for a long time, still licking my paw occasionally. I don’t know how long I’ve been in here. I hear her start cooking, yummy smells waft up from downstairs, and then I realize I’m hungry. Still, I don’t want to leave my sanctuary, this one place little place in the whole wide world that I know and understand. 

And then I hear the can opener. That gets my attention. But I don’t move yet. I wait, listening carefully. And then I hear it. The sound of the lid coming off of the jar of mayonnaise …TUNA! I wiggle out pf my hideaway and creep down the stairs. Carefully avoiding the parlor, I go into the kitchen. 

Wisely, she says nothing as she spoons out more tuna than usual onto the plate and sets it next to my bowl, making a sandwich with the rest. I sidle along next to it and look it over carefully before I sample it, and then I can’t help myself and chow like it’s my last meal. I woof it down, savoring the tender, fragrant flakes.  Finished, I eye my water bowl suspiciously. She sees me looking at it. She comes over and wiggles her finger in it then backs away. I’m still not convinced. I sniff at it gingerly, but I get too close and my nose touches the surface and I jump away, but there’s no jangling, biting feeling. I realize how thirsty I am and stick my face back in, and don’t stop slurping until the bowl is half gone. I sit back, belching, and start to wash up. It’s warm in the kitchen, the air moist with food bubbling and simmering on the stove. I’m slowly starting to feel normal again. 

I see she’s left the kitchen. I hear the reading light in the parlor click on. I cautiously tip-toe in, sniffing, take a few steps, look around, sniff some more, take a few more steps. The fan of multi-colored gravel on the floor is gone and the floor is dry. The tank and the fish are gone. 

She’s lying on the couch with a blanket over her, bathed in a pool of warm yellow light from the reading lamp. She’s got her glasses on and a book open in her lap. She looks like she’s reading but I know better.

I stroll up to her like I don’t have a care in the world. When I’m right below her I look around at the rest of the room as if she is the least interesting thing in it. Then I look up at her into the light, my eyes squinting and blinking, sniffing at the air. She continues to pretend to read. I stretch out one leg straight behind me, return it, then stretch out the other, return it, then stretch out my back.  

It’s a short hop to the open spot by her feet. 

“Well hello there, stranger,” she says softly as I make my way up alongside of her. “We’ve had a pretty busy day, haven’t we?” 

I start to purr quietly as I make my way onto her lap, head-butting the book out of the way. 

“Oof, you are getting heavy, you little piggy.” I purr harder. She says that every time. She puts her book down and makes room for me. I scrunch up onto her chest, sniff at her face and belch. She waves her hand around. 

“Eww, stinky tuna breath!” She laughs. I lick her cheek and then let her pet me. She rubs my head, then under my jaw, then scratches my forehead. I’m purring so hard now I’m wheezing. Then she slowly strokes my back rhythmically, firmly. She does this for a long time. Finally I ease back down onto her lap and curl up. The world has returned to normal. I am in charge again. I drift off to sleep. She loves me.

Author tags:

emotional support, love, family, cats

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I could always get my cat out of hiding when I cracked the lid on the tuna fancy feast. Nothing like the love of a crazy cat.