The cat was fat.
It was a fat cat.
Enormous and relaxed like a giant Panda on Quaaludes.
What the fuck is this now?
A cat shaped like a Buddha?
God help us — please!
What the fuck is this?
Elmer Castlebick could not believe what he was looking at in the Daily News- I mean- what the fuck is that? He showed the newspaper photo to the barkeep Davey who rolled his eyes and made his way to the backroom to get another case of something.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Look at that giant fucking cat!
That is insane.
And the article on the fat cat was also super cray cray. Fluffy Von Wiggington or whatever the fuck name it had was crazy fat.
A fat fucking cat.
I mean look at that shit… will you?
Elmer couldn’t believe his eyes.
The details in the article were bizarre too. It was like the World Weekly News. The cat was depressed. The cat had low testosterone. The cat preferred listening to Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis.
Who even knew that cats had testosterone?
Cat people who loved the furry, fluffy little rat-eaters.
Cat penises, scrotums and all that. Dogs were neutered, and cats were spayed. So, yes, Elmer suddenly realized–cat dicks did exist and testosterone too. Ick!
Elmer checked Google on his Iphone to confirm his suspicion that cats did in fact have penises.
According to various cat owners, male cats who were spayed were like eunuchs who could still get hard-ons but not ejaculate. They would get hard little cat chubbies when their owners rubbed their bellies. Yuck.
Elmer shuddered and took a quick swig of his cold bottle of Bud.
Elmer was extremely allergic to cats and was extremely horrified by this picture of a super fat cat lounging in a wooden chair with an enormous big belly and paws on both arms of the chair it was leaning back in.
The cat was posed in an anthropomorphic manner that suggested it was recently orating on the state of the world. A little like Winston Churchill but without the stove-pipe hat or like Elmer’s artist pal Manfred Gogol at a Starbees with a Venti Iced coffee checking out the milfs as they buzzed about.
No, this was not a cat in the hat. This was a furry freak.
The celebrity socialite Elmer has just interviewed earlier in the day for Affluent, the glossy vanity magazine he free-lanced for, had grown up on a farm in the Midwest where stray cats would hang out and at times move about in organized packs, like the feathered creatures that made Hitchcock’s The Birds so viscerally frightening.
“Oh, we had about 30 stray cats on Peepaw’s farm so I’m definitely an unabashed cat person,” said the rich and powerful mover and shaker, as Elmer bit down on his tongue.
“Wow, 30 cats huh? That’s quite a few.”
Elmer didn’t actually hate cats he just didn’t like to be around them.
The prettiest girl at his college, Lane Darby had once invited Elmer to her dorm room to “study.”
Elmer was ecstatic. He had had a major crush on Lane Darby ever since he first saw her holding court at a NYC private school party.
A fellow college classmate, who had hooked up with Lane, the previous form, had boasted to Elmer once about how Lane would be on the bed waiting for him to visit her after soccer practice. She would be totally naked, head down on a pillow, ass up, waiting with a wet pussy to be pounded.
Quite the pretty picture that had been seared into Elmer’s imagination forever after he was first told it.
Elmer’s excitement in meeting up with Lane to share his class notes on Shakespeare lasted for… about 15 minutes, right up until Elmer had to abruptly excuse himself from their “study session” in her super-comfortable dorm room. Lane had an illegal Pomeranian kitten in her room and Elmer’s eyes started tearing and his nose started dripping and he started sneezing and hacking.
Cat-blocked by a furry little devil…and perhaps fate.
Elmer sat at the neighborhood bar reminiscing as he ordered another beer. He took his pen and drew a top hat on the Fat Cat in the newspaper and then replaced its whiskers with a thick mustache and goatee.
Eventually, a 70 year old fellow, grizzled with a deep tan entered the bar, ordered a drink and looked at the soccer match on screen over the bar.
Conversation was struck up about the weather, the asshole in chief who was somehow in charge of the country and the best beer and books on the sea. Melville and Moby Dick, Omoo and Typee were discussed with appreciation.
For some reason Elmer referenced the line by Melville about the Ocean was like a crouching tiger as a favorite.
The older man recited the Melville line to the letter:
“…When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang…”
Wow. Hard to argue against Moby-Dick.
Then the older stranger explained that he built boats and had sailed the world after having been a world class musician. The pressure of his own greatness had chased him off land and to the solitude of the ocean.
Why does one hear the call of the Sea? Elmer asked the older man with no expectations.
His name was Grimm but it had been Laskey when he was a famous musical prodigy as a teen.
It had all been too much and he needed to escape the life that his virtuosity had all but assured. He didn’t want the hours of practice and the expectations and stress that came along with being one of the greatest musicians ever.
So, he quit. Put his instrument away and never touched it again for 50 years – over which time he moved into a boatyard and found a new home tending a lighthouse and mastering various boats to different ports with small crews. The biggest challenge, as it turned out, was the growing number of tropical storms that complicated Ocean voyages. Of course, global warming was the main cause as they both discussed over the drinks.
But why go to sea?
“About four- five days out your body starts to shut down you don’t eat or drink or defecate and you achieve a state of bliss. You can tell where you are longitudinally by the color of the water, the smell of the ocean breeze, the sound of the birds or the surprise of pesky flying fish or a school of dolphin. Occasionally Whales. It all connects and there you are.”
Elmer mentioned he wrote for Affluent and perhaps the old-timer’s life-story would make a good read.
The old man laughed and said he doubted it would but admitted that the New York Times had thought the same thing just a month earlier and had printed the story with the title Prodigy Resurrected. He never read it. But it was there on-line.
Elmer grimaced as he thought to himself, how the fuck can I get to write for that Old Gray Lady?
Practice, practice, practice.
The old man had practiced and had played Carnegie Hall as a teenager and was considered the next coming of Wagner but he threw his gift away because it caused too much stress and pain and too little joy. He had figured out a better life path and his only regret was that he let other people down. But he was ok with that decision.
Elmer would soon have to leave the bar, and pop a couple Claritin to go oversee a video edit for the magazine in Brooklyn, which he most probably would not get paid for. Of course, the young videographer/editor had a cat that lived in his Crowns Height editing studio. All magazines had been struggling for survival and on-line content was key for clicks and exposure to potential advertisers.
Affluent’s Publisher asked Elmer to call the previous videographer, a millennial with major attitude who actually also expected to get paid by the publisher for his work. What was HE thinking?
“Hey Gizz-Matic (his art world handle, really) it’s Elmer- free lance writer for Affluent. The publisher asked me to reach out to you about the video you shot.”
“Yeah man, oh ok guess that’s why I didn’t recognize the # on caller ID. like I told that guy- I don’t release my video work until I get paid.”
“Totally got that. Publisher said he tried to get your info– to Zelle a payment to you a couple of times.”
“Nope. Only accept PayPal”
“Gizz, the publisher just wants to get you paid. I’m not trying to get in the middle of this – I was just asked to reach out to you because the publisher said he left you a bunch of messages. What if he sent you a check or paid you in cash in person–would that work?
“Nope. I accept PayPal. That’s it. Thanks– but not really interested in getting cat-fished on the street by that guy and a couple of his goons.”
Elmer laughed to himself as he thought cat fishing had to do with some sort of online con. Clearly, he was a gen-X- er conversing with a millennial. “So, is there anything I can do to help fix this matter?”
“Actually, I’m done talking to you. If the publisher wants his video – he needs to text me for permission to the use the footage and send me the full amount owed via PayPal. Then, I’ll consider releasing it to him. Later.”
The Gizz had hung up.
What an asshole.
Elmer texted the publisher that he spoke with The Gizz.
“Like you said- total asshole- I wouldn’t work with him- let me find you a better videographer.”
“Great. We’ll re-shoot the whole thing- this time we will try out the whole menu and drinks as well.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Life’s is too short to deal with these punk kids who think the world owes them something.”
Elmer just wanted to be a famous and successful writer.
He enjoyed seeing his magazine bylines on-line in big print almost as much as he loved seeing Zelle payments ping his Iphone from the publisher, albeit all too infrequently.
Everybody was hustling and trying to make it.
The publisher was a bit of a rake and his long-suffering, underpaid staff presumed that he was simply running the magazine to get free trips and free dinners around town and around the world.
There was little honor, it seemed, in this vanity magazine world of freebies and ostentatious lifestyle. The worker bees would always be bitching about something. And the publisher, a captain in his own right, would steer the ship as he wanted to the betterment of his own pockets and eternal glory.
The old man at the bar had dropped out, tossed his gift into the closet and then went to sea. Away from expectations and most people except his small crews. He was the captain of his destiny and he spoke like a man who knew something even though he still smoked thin cigars and had a hacking cough.
Smoking was stupid.
So was everything these days.
“Another round, please.”
Banner Image: Pixabay.com