My apartment was silent except for the flap-flap-flap of my sandals that followed me everywhere I went. There wasn’t much to do in my one-bedroom, one-bathroom little cubbyhole. Not many places to go, either.
A typewriter sat idle atop the kitchen counter. Perhaps it was just by luck that a stool waited for me there, comfortably within reach of the keyboard.
Shuffling sounds from within the ceiling drew my attention. No sooner had I turned to look than the air duct grate crashed to the floor. A fat orange tabby dropped out of the hole in the ceiling, landed on its paws. It hissed with fangs bared.
It was Boderick’s cat. Its name was Miffy or Muffy or Tuffy. It might as well have been called Beelzebub.
All that cat ever did was eat. The damn thing snuck into my apartment every day to steal my potato chips.
The cat’s eyes went straight to the half-eaten bag of chips atop my refrigerator. It traipsed to the kitchen, its path leading straight through me. With a sidewise glance, Beelzebub hissed at me as if to say it would get what it wanted regardless of how I felt on the matter.
Having spent the morning trying to write and failing utterly at it, I was in no mood to take crap from anyone, especially not an uppity kitty. Eyes locked on the cat, I reached out a hand and raked in the first thing to cross my fingers - a plastic flyswatter.
Sensing the challenge, Beelzebub bristled. Then, like an orange thunderbolt, the cat leapt for my face with talons drawn. With a quick sidestep and quicker backhand I left a waffle-iron pattern on the cat’s chest with a resounding whap! Beelzebub righted itself in midair and landed on its paws, hissing its frustration. Realizing its temporary setback, it gave an angry yowl before leaping back into the duct.
To this day, I cannot grasp how a twenty-pound tabby can perform an eight-foot vertical leap.
Setting my trusty weapon down, I turned back to the typewriter. Nothing came to me. Boderick’s cat had sabotaged my train of thought before it could leave the station. Grumbling, I thought on how Boderick would do well to match his cat and neuter himself.
I blinked twice, realizing how harsh I’d been on poor Bod. If you knew him, and knew how he’d grown up, you couldn’t be too hard on him.
Boderick’s parents were actors in a traveling medieval fair. They were so immersed in their work that they never could put their medieval personas aside. Further sweetening this simmering pot of miserableness, the show’s manager forbade his actors modern conveniences, purportedly to recreate the medieval lifestyle.
Boderick lived the medieval life with his parents for twenty years until one night, after a heated argument, his mother walked out on his father. The following morning, his father walked out too, leaving Boderick behind. When the show’s manager caught wind of these desertions, he sent Boderick on his way with a firm boot to the tailbone. Alone, homeless, and thrust several centuries into the future, Boderick saw sour prospects. It was nothing short of a miracle, then, that he landed a job selling home stereos at Salesmart, just as it was nothing other than my bad luck that got him assigned to my department.
Ugh. Bod. The man never could sell a stereo to save his life. It also didn’t help his chances any that he called our female customers “wenches.”
For all his quirks, Boderick took a joke well enough. This was all the better for everyone, because he was usually the butt of our jokes. It was hard not to laugh - the man was a walking anachronism. For instance, his taste in music was awkward. The man loved funk.
So we, the rest of us poor suckers working at Salesmart, spun him a tremendous yarn. He swallowed it all up like a wide-eyed first-grader. This yarn was cut long and thick.
We told him that funk, as a music genre, had a long and colorful history. Before the discovery of the new world (the existence of which he vehemently denied), aborigines would gather at the beach during the windy season. They sat on the shore, enthralled, listening to the rhythm of the wind buffeting the trees against the rocky crags at the shore. The trees hitting the cliffs produced a danceable beat that pounded deep in their souls. Much as they tried, the natives could not reproduce this rhythm because no man among them had the strength to uproot the palm trees and strike them against the cliffs. But an industrious native realized he could reproduce the sound if he created to-scale miniatures of the palm trees and the cliffs, and banged them together.
By the end of our yarn Bod was yelling, “Get Venezuela on the phone - get me the president of funk!”
The corporate guys at Salesmart caught wind of our antics in days. That one story got as high up as the district manager before we all were called in for era-sensitivity training.
I yawned and stretched in my chair. A ream of blank paper stared back at me from the typewriter carriage, wondering when I’d ever pay it any attention.
It was decided. Today I would write.
But about what?
This story was featured in Author's Voice, a publication of the South Florida Writers Association, February 2008, Issue 2.