There are many things happening in the world and the cats are staring. Unemployment is near 50% in Spain
. The Russians
are getting involved in the Syrian
civil war. Asteroids
are near-missing the planet. The Japanese economy
is imploding. Weather is killing people in Oklahoma
The cats are staring at the wall.
The big black dog is having none of it. She's wondering when we're going to eat the cats. She's resting up for it, and every day comes to me with tail wagging and a forlorn look.
"Today? They would be so tasty and it would be fun."
I tell her no. We're not killing the cats. Stop with that talk. The woman likes them. Besides, I pay money to take them to the vet and it would be a waste.
CNN is replaying the Boston Marathon bombing and scenes of the destruction in Oklahoma. The cats stare without blinking. Occasionally a bug goes by and they snap their heads around to track it briefly. Then they face the white wall focusing on infinity.
"Very Zen," says the dog.
"What do they see?" I say to myself but the dog hears me.
"They don't see anything. They're just really stupid."
"Maybe they'll tunnel into another dimension."
"We should eat them before they do."
"Cut it out. I told you."
"I thought you were one of us. I'm starting to wonder."
"You thought wrong, fluffy face. See this boney treat? Want it? Go outside and leave me alone. Fetch."
"You better not eat the cats without me."
Scientists say the Greenland ice cap is falling into the sea. My pal Bill is rebuilding his vacation home after Superstorm Sandy. He has to build it 14 feet above the sand, which doesn't account for the rising ocean.
What are you idiots staring at?
It's two forty seven AM. I know this because I'm looking at the clock. I don't know why I'm looking at the clock. Shouldn't I be sleeping?
But outside the dog is barking. It's that sort of screaming bark she makes when something or someone has invaded the perimeter.
I get up to have a look. At the back door I flip on the light. Go outside onto the redwood deck. She's standing there shouting into the dark.
"What are you barking at, you fool?"
I have my really bright LED lamp with me. It's the one they say you can see from space. My backyard is much closer than outer space and so is no match for my photons.
Back there are raccoons the size of Volkswagens. They appear to be eating the dogwood tree.
"Get out there and chase them away," I say to the dog.
"Are you kidding? Look at the size of those things. I'll just stay here and bark. Beam that shiny thing some more. Maybe you can set them on fire."
The raccoons look into the light, decide it's too unpleasant to be visible, then saunter back into the woods.
"Some guard dog you are."
"Watch dog. There's a difference."
"They're eating your mistress's dogwood tree. You could have chased them away. She's going to be pissed."
"Hey Mr. Zoologist. They're not beavers."
"Then what were they eating?"
"How the hell should I know? I'm just out here doing a job. Far as I'm concerned, mission accomplished. How about one of those boney treats for my trouble?"
"How about shut up and go to sleep?"
"You're not still angry about that cat thing, are you? I wasn't really serious about eating them. It's just my nature to, well, hunt and kill. And look, if I could put in a word for live food. Just saying, for a change, you know. Don't get me wrong. I'm totally down with the kibble. Just a little variety now and then. Something actually bleeding."
"You could have gone after those raccoons."
"You really are human, aren't you? You do not fathom the whole canine-raccoon equation. They could wind up eating me."
"You're twice the size of the biggest one," as I head back into the house.
The cats are up, too. They're sitting in the laundry room, staring out the window.
The dog says, "Nature doesn't work that way. Look at those losers in the window. They're not even trying to help because they're inside cats. Inside as in, not outside. Some predators they make. Attacking string and towels and laser pointer dots. They wouldn't get more than two steps outside here. A bluejay would peck them to death. They'd be tripped up by ants. You guys are not killers, you're losers."
I say, "Big talk for a killer dog who has to hide up here on the deck when the raccoons come."
I slam the door a little too hard for the late hour. Shut off the deck light and leave her in the night.
Through the door she says, panting, "Just kidding. Really. You can't take a joke, can you? Come on. Don't go away mad."
But I'm already in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering how the next stock market implosion will destroy my already questionable retirement.
When we watch TV the calico cat likes to be upside-down on my wife. First she sits on my wife's lap. Then she flips over onto her back, head downward and gets her head and front paw into the space between my wife's hip and mine. She reaches out her front claw and digs it into my pants and latches on. That way she's connecting with both of us.
"This cat is crazy," says my blonde-haired wife.
"That cat is sapping our vital life force," I say.
The dog looks on from under the dining room table.
"Don't you start," I say to the dog.
The cat starts drooling, which gets all over my clothes.
"This cat has brain damage," my wife says.
I tell her, "What you don't understand is that the cat is forming a circuit between your aura and mine. She's sucking up our energy and if we let her keep doing it she will eventually consume our very souls."
The dog likes this talk and starts drooling. I wonder for a moment if there's a chemical usage for all this animal saliva, then realize that crazy think is a result of my energy being sapped into another dimension by this beast.
The black cat sits on the counter top and watches TV. He tends to only come around when we're watching Mad Men or Big Bang Theory. Unlike the calico cat he is aloof. He cannot meow. He makes a noise like a parrot. I have never seen him blink.
For some reason he squawks.
"What is Black complaining about?" says the wife.
"The probe is feeding information about Don Draper to the mothership," I say, because I believe he is an alien robot designed to gather data about our lifestyle.
"He probably wants food," says the wife.
The dog says, "You guys are twisted. He *is* food."
The wife says, "The cat food thing is empty. Go give them some."
"Are you listening to that dog?" I say. "She's got a one track mind."
My wife looks at me for a moment, then exhales sharply and gets up, peeved. "I'll do it."
"Hey, I didn't mean for you to have to get up," I say.
"You're talking to the dog. I can't believe you," she says from the laundry room where we keep the cat food. The cats hear the food hitting the dish and rush over.
The dog looks over toward the open laundry room door, then to me. "We can fix this. I'm telling you."
"Shut up," I say. "And wait till she finds out you didn't stop those rodents from eating her dogwood tree."
The dog says, "No sweat. It's cool. She thinks it's the deer doing it."
From the laundry room my wife shouts, "And stop talking to that dog!"
"See?" I say.
The dog lies on the floor and puts her head between her paws. She says, "Just doing my job. Performing a simple service."
I come home from work and the front door is wide open. The two cats and the dog are sitting on the tile floor looking outside as if stepping over the threshold would cause them to plunge through the earth's surface to the molten core.
"What's going on here?" I ask.
The dog says, "She left the door open. That one with the noisy pink worm."
My blonde haired wife shows up chatting with a woman in a Lulumon yoga outfit, amber beads, and Birkenstocks. She has a baby in a macrame harness hanging at her chest.
She has obviously climbed out of the Santa Cruz vortex where Abby Hoffman runs a men's clothing store and Jerry Garcia sells dope at the Safeway.
They get to where I'm standing and my wife introduces me to Willow and her baby, Ryan Houghton Verbena Whitehead Smith III.
I shake Willow's hand lightly, "Wow. You gave him all the names. Now there's none left," then to my wife, "Someone left the front door open."
"That one," says the dog. "That one there did it. We should eat her food. Wolverines could have got in here and then where would we be? Downtown and uptown and dripping down the walls all at the same time, that's where we'd be."
The cats sit quietly staring at us, their tails oscillating in sinuous patterns behind them.
"Sorry," says my wife, not Willow. She closes the door.
"At least the animals didn't run away," I said.
"Why would they?" said Willow.
"Because they're animals."
My wife says, "Actually, they never run away," and then to Willow, "Would you like to come in for some tea?"
Willow senses my hostility and hesitates. She says, "Actually I don't expose Whitehead to cats."
I say, "Allergies?"
"Karma. You wouldn't understand."
"I probably wouldn't but I'm interested anyway."
Willow purses her lips and rolls her eyes. Then she looks at my wife for support. Instead of support, the blonde-haired girl stares at her vacantly.
Willow says, "We've done a past life regression on Whitehead and we know he was a rodent in his most recent incarnation. We expect he will be very fearful of predators."
"Vermin? A vole?" I ask, eager for more news of this poor child's soon-to-be-disastrous upbringing.
"A capybara, actually."
"Actually?" says the blonde-haired girl.
"It's a very large rodent."
"Your son was a giant carnivorous rat in his past life?" I say. "You're sure of this?"
"And you're having no problems nursing him?"
"Why would I?" says Willow.
"Why would she?" says the blonde-haired girl to me looking like someone about to become a drowning victim.
"Because it's a...well...interesting," I say. I open the front door and place my briefcase inside and leave the door open as Willow had done. The two cats are still sitting on the tile floor in the hallway, looking out. The big black dog is behind them sitting quietly.
The dog says, "White Fang would have eaten these ones. I could do it and you could write a book about it. Everybody wins." Then she barks. Little Ryan Verbena starts to cry.
I say to Willow, "Oh, sorry about that. She scared little Houghton. She's totally tame. She hasn't ever bitten anyone." The dog understands my hand subtle gesture and barks louder. "But there's always a first time."
The dog says, "Tame? Bite? Dibs on the pink thing," and is now on all fours, wagging her tail.
Willow says, "We can't tolerate this aggression." Willow turns and heads away from our front door and down the driveway.
My wife's blank look becomes red-faced anger. "You did that on purpose," she says to me, and is out of earshot following Willow when I confess to the obvious.
The dog stops barking. I go into the house and close the door.
"Thanks for not running away," I say to the animals.
The dog says, "With that crazy person out there?"
"Who the heck was that woman?" I say. I fish a dog biscuit from the cabinet and chuck it toward the dog, who catches it in her jaws and plods away.
The cats hop on the kitchen counter and look me in the eye. The calico cat meows. The black one squawks like a defective iPod.
"And you guys," I say, "don't blame all of the human race for her, ok?"
The cats glance at each other, jump off the counter, and disappear under the sofa.
It's three thirty-three AM when the UFO wakes me up with that brilliant blue-white Spielbergian light shining into my bedroom window.
I climb out of bed, and rub my eyes. Try to wake up the wife, but of course she's in the UFO trance. They immobilize everyone within 20 miles when they show up. They say it gives them plausible deniability. You'd think in this day and age we could all just admit they're here and get on with it.
I open the door to the laundry room and wake up the cats.
"Come on guys, let's go."
Then I open the back door. The dog is sitting still on the redwood deck, looking up at the craft which rests silently on a cushion of antigravity and spacetime, its operating lights spinning patterns in red and green and gold. They've nullified sound in the area. It's so quiet I can hear myself breathing.
The big black dog says, "I still can't get over it. Every time I see one of those."
This is a smaller transport model. It's the size of a small apartment building: not like the cruisers that rival the city of San Jose or the planetary motherships which are, well, planetary.
The cats come out the back door onto the deck with me and the dog.
"Guys, don't think it hasn't been a pleasure," I say. "Give us a good report. Send back some more of that advanced technology. I love that zero-point energy book you gave me but I wouldn't mind the version with the equations. Next time, right?"
The light beam descends and lifts the kitties. The black one raises a paw to his right eyebrow and snaps a quick salute.
When the cats are aboard the UFO zaps upward into the cosmos leaving a trail of brilliant white dust that cools as it dissolves into dark orange, then dim purple, then nothing.
The sound comes back.
The dog barks twice.
"Just checking," she says.
"What are you doing out here?" says a voice from behind me. It's the wife. She yawns and rubs her eyes.
"Time for new cats," I say. "These ones ran away."
She says, "Again? What's with these cats? What are you doing to them? Is that dog eating them?"
The dog lies down and puts her head between her paws. Glances up at me.
I say to the wife, "We're still in the feline foster parent program at the ASPCA, right? Tomorrow we go and get two more kitties."
I lead her into the house, and before I close the door behind me I toss the dog a couple boney treats.
"Not a word," I say.
But she's munching so she can't answer.