Short Fiction

Neanderthals by Tim Frank

How do you know how much space is left in your head? What if all the ads for floss or McDonald’s on YouTube means everything you cherish is forced out of your brain into the stratosphere sending you Neolithic?

One summer when all the strange stuff happened with our bizarre cat and my family, there was plenty of stuff taking up room in my mind. I couldn’t escape racist football chants and the noise of brawls in nail salons. The thrash of flamenco guitars gave me the yips and I was tortured by bullying DJs on the radio.

My cat, with its streak of ginger that lined it’s chewed-up tail, would linger outside sunning himself in the garden, waiting for the peyote buttons he scored in a nearby alley to kick in. He would get so stoned he couldn’t jump across rooftops or slip through wire mesh fences, so he just lay on his back on the patio drooling on ants while listening to Bruce Springsteen. I don’t judge him for wanting to experiment with drugs — life as a pet is probably quite dull.

Then there was my mum, who took to flagging down motorway traffic during rush hour, swigging warm milk from cartons, and holding her hand over a zippo. She even refused to join me and my dad for pizza nights, spending her evenings picking out bits of potpourri from the glass bowl by the TV, savouring the scent of pine trees and sand.

And finally, dad, who spent his time staring at the wall as if he was driving a car into a vast canyon and then gently farted til dawn.

It was then everything fell into place. It took me until the autumn but, finally, I snagged some crucial thoughts from the depths of my scaly mind — I figured out the event that split my family apart and filled our heads with garbage. The cat, the no-good cat, did a number on us.

I should have known from the beginning — he’s always loaded with drugs, bumping into doors and wearing cat shades to hide his red eyes. Now I remember how he spiked my family’s orange juice with a potent dose of LSD: one night as everyone slept I saw the pet dissolving tiny squares of paper into the jug of Tropicana. It was late, I was confused and nothing made sense. Who would have thought we’d be tripping like hippies past August?

The cat probably wanted revenge for us cutting off his balls. Understandable, but what could we do? He kept spraying the electrics and shagging the neighbourhood cats.

So, me and my parents saw fractals of spiralling fire, had staring contests, spoke in tongues, kicked each other on the way to the sink at breakfast, and ate as loud as tambourines.

After remembering what the cat had done, I had to find a way of snapping my parents out of their funk, but as we moved into winter my parents couldn’t bring themselves to believe their beloved animal would commit such a despicable act.

So, we remained high and lived life as eccentrics for a while. Thoughts continued to seep out of our minds, and you could say we were like Neanderthals because there wasn’t much space left in our heads to do anything but flail about in confusion.

It was a wild summer. Damn that cat.

Tim Frank


8 thoughts on “Neanderthals by Tim Frank”

  1. Hello Tim
    Coincidentally I just gave my Cats some Cracknip so they might let me alone for awhile. William S. Burroughs loved Cats. They often muled H into Kansas out appreciation. But for persons who do the old snip-snip, Bill Cosby administered low rent jollies such as cheap schoolyard yellow microdot is the best that can be expected.
    If anyone else had written this, I’d comment on the wonderful weirdness of it all–but since it is you, I must congratulate you on your consistency when it comes to excellent works of stretched reality.


  2. Love the vengeful cat – would love to know how he acquired the LSD (or perhaps I don’t?). Really well written, funny, eccentric story this one – thoroughly enjoyed it. The opening paragraph is great – whenever I learn some completely useless fact I often wonder what had to leave my brain to make space for it!


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