THE SAY TRAGEDY COMES IN THREES; I say, what’s a tragedy to one person is comedy to the next. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but here it is. So I come home late from work, expecting to hear the usual scratching at the door and barking at the sound of my car, and there's nothing. When I put my key in the door and push in, the door seems to be stuck, and there's this terrible smell of cast-iron-fried plantains left on for too long and burnt to a crisp.
Sorry for the plantains reference, I just got back from a business trip to Nicaragua.
I'm jamming the door inward, trying to push whatever it is away from the door, and from beneath the door poor Gerald's tail pokes out. "Gerald?" I'm pretty sure I say. Then his tail wags, like he's heard me say his name, but it's probably just because I'm still hammering at his body with the door. I peek my head in and there he is, his snout sticking up in the air as if he can smell his own death.
I think about calling an animal funeral home, or my wife, to help me bury him. But then I remember she's three hours away, and partly because of Gerald. I give Gerald an 'Our Father' and slip a heavy-duty trash bag around him. I'm not sure it's legal to do it, but he's just organic waste at this point.
So, what to do with Gerald. Send him to my wife—she's been waiting for this moment her whole life. Literally. I could bury him, but why? Buried bodies just make it really weird when you're trying to dig and suddenly you pull up your spade and there's hair or fingernails stuck to it. Trust me.
I carry him to the end of my driveway and deposit his body on the street. Trash day is tomorrow. The landfill’s out near where she is now, so that’s kind of poetic? So maybe he will end up with my wife.
I get the mail, nothing but bills, except a small brown envelope from somewhere in the Middle East. It's not completely surprising; I'm sure if you got a small brown envelope from somewhere in the Middle East you'd have some serious panicking to do. Me, no problem. I do business all over the world. Not sure how they got my home address, but whatever. I dump the bills in the plastic sack in which Gerald now lies and head back into the house.
...read more (2/3)In my kitchen, I toss the brown envelope onto the table. It spins like a 45 and comes to rest under the centerpiece. The smell of Gerald still lingers. I turn on the stove exhaust fan and consider Febreezing the entire house to get rid of the smell. It's a thought. I could also Simple Green the foyer, full strength. That should kill anything. It's like bleach, but green. I once used it to get ink out of my dryer when a pen of mine somehow survived long enough to burst in my dryer and melt on every possible surface. Took me twelve straight hours of Brillo pad scrubbing; my fingers had chemical burns by the end of the day. I learned after that to use gloves. Gloves has saved me from many a situation.
I pick up a picture of my wife and Gerald that I haven’t yet thrown away. They were at the beach in Appalachicola, Florida, before my wife and I got married. Dumb dog.
I figure I should open that letter from the Middle East—from Hank, to be exact. Hank's not his real name, but Hank is what I call him now. We've got a big exporting deal thing going and I'm sure it's just a holiday card or something that he feels obligated to give.
Before I can open the card, though, this cat comes sauntering in, mewing like I’m supposed to melt at the sound. I don’t remember a cat, but maybe the dog-sitter thought Gerald needed a friend. I didn’t peg Gerald as a cat person.
So this cat jumps up on the kitchen table, and I promptly sweep him off with a grand gesture of my arm.
I insert my finger in the envelope but before I can slide it across and see what's inside I feel this warm, pleasing sensation on my leg. At first I think that this cat is using me as a litter box, but instead, I look down, and it’s using me as a scratching post. Both front paws are stuck on my calves and his claws have to be several inches into my skin. Even when I yelp and jump and spin and scream, he doesn't let go.
There are bloody sock prints on the floor in the shape of a waltz.
Before I know it, it’s kind of hard to think.
I’m looking down at the dark red Jackson Pollack of my kitchen floor and imagining what it’s like to be a famous violinist, like my uncle or my cousin? Right? When did I lie down on my kitchen floor?