Welcome to the Black Cat Boogie
It’s 4:25 AM, and I have this problem where I got something to say.
I don’t know what it is, but it feels good just to blurt something out every day because I’m a journalist, after all—a columnist and a novelist too. I write lots of words. I write them as if my life depends on it because my life does depend on it.
So now I have to think of an oddball story to tell all of you before resting my head. I should be getting my class ring this week, and I promise I gotta tell everyone about that one. You can bet your ass on that.
I got one. I think I wrote this in a book somewhere, so you’ll get to reread it. Probably in a longer form.
Once, I had a cat named Sedric. I had initially called him “Pepper” because he was all black with a cute little spot on his chest. But nobody gives a fuck what I think, so my dad named him Sir Sedric Thomas Cat. He called him “Sedra.” And that’s the asshole bullshit I grew up with at home.
Anyway, the family took me on vacation to the Okeefenokee Swamp. If you aren’t familiar (and you probably aren’t), the Okeefenokee Swamp is just north of the Georgia-Florida border. I understand people don’t give a good goddamn about their lives and subsist on meth and something else there, animal crackers, I guess. I’m not holding anyone to that being a reality. The hate between Georgia and Florida is so extreme that the Dawgs and Gators have to find a third location to play every year.
I was a Jacket before I was a Spartan, so I want them both to lose.
I was a kid. I wanted a souvenir. I got a little plastic alligator. I got some smaller ones, too. They fit on a pencil. I chewed two of them up like bubblegum.
Because I was a jackass as a kid.
The other was simply too big. It sat on a shelf in my bedroom, which was where my father found it. I bring this up because, on this particular night, it was a dark and stormy night, just like the first lines of any Snoopy novel.
Sedra, whom you’ve been introduced to, was napping happily on the couch, specifically where my father liked to sit. Something about that lit the feeble fires of fuckery into full blaze, deep within the walls of Dad’s chest.
“I need some twine,” Dad said to my mother. She cut him off a foot-long piece of crochet yarn. It would have to do. In her head, instructions were like the 2020 Presidential Debate. In the long run, it was a good thing.
He tied slipknots in both ends, quietly fetched the modern rubber dinosaur from my shelf, and slipped one end around the toy’s neck.
“Get outta my chair,” Dad addressed Sedra. Fresh out of fucks to give, Sedra rolled over on his back and presented his tummy to be rubbed.
Dad obliged. It was that second slipknot going around his tail that Sedra hadn’t counted on being there. He looked back, saw the orange and green reptile, and let loose with a “WAAA! PAH! PAH! PAH!” The hiss came as a shock, and the velocity with which he launched himself off of the couch and around the room in circles like a greyhound chasing a track rabbit was utterly new things in our house that night.
Mom had a look of fear and confusion. Those weren’t new. It was my father balled up on the floor in almost a fetal position laughing so hard he could no longer breathe that was unique.
As for myself, I stood in the middle of the living room like a drunken ringmaster trying to analyze my career choices. Sedra was busy taking a wrecking ball that doubled as an alligator to every surface around the room that he could stand upon. Pictures broke, books fell, he uprooted plants. With every new instance of destruction, my father laughed and wheezed harder until it was clear he was in pain.
Then the yarn loosened enough for the gator to fall off, and Sedric attacked it like the spawn of Satan himself. I think it was in four pieces when I got it back.
Sedra wouldn’t let Dad touch him for about two weeks after that. What was worse was all of the bitching about everything that the cat had broken.
“Why can’t you just enjoy a good thing and then let it go?” my father asked, “The cat’s outside. He ain’t making a repeat visit. I don’t understand why you want to keep complaining about it.”
“Johnny, what you did to that poor cat wrecked half my house.”
“But you didn’t pay for any of it! Why can’t I enjoy what I paid good money for? Besides, most of the shit he wrecked was what I’ve been trying to get you to throw away for the past year. He did me a favor. I should give him a medal!”
“As long as it ain’t around his tail,” I offered.
“Yeah, I don’t think he’d go for that well anymore.”
I don’t remember rightly what happened with Sedric, but I will never forget that damned alligator.
There’s your story. All real, for your reading pleasure.
I see you reaching for that string. You leave that darn cat alone.