Cathy Eats Her Words

November 11, 2008

day four

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Novel — jeanne @ 9:45 pm

Cathy went in to Mom’s room the next morning, full of resolve, looking for the telephone to call and make her reservations on the first flight out of there. The mid-afternoon flight out of there. Okay, the last flight. Let’s face it, Mom was a train wreck. It would take three times to pack as expected. Maybe she should go around and start collecting Mom’s things before she was even out of bed. Go thru every room and pick up her stuff, put it all in a garbage bag and drag it into the room along with a cup of coffee to sweeten the blow. Hi Mom, you’re going home today.

Mom moaned as Cathy opened the door. Pitifully.

Cathy felt herself losing weight, wasting away. She could stand there with her hand on the door knob for a thousand years, she could turn to stone and weather away, and Mom would still be there. Cathy sighed.

“Cathy? Is that you?” Mom called, barely audible from under the covers, an old lady’s querilous bleat. Mom might as well be reading from a script.. No no no, the director shouts, say it like you’re on death’s door.

Cathy sighed. “What’s the matter, Mom?”

“Oh,”

“Mom?” The covers hadn’t moved. Cathy couldn’t tell exactly where Mom was under the lumps. Was her head at the bottom? Was she sideways? Maybe under the bed.

“Oh, honey, I’m not feeling very well,” Still no movement. Cathy thought she could hear Mom sighing, or maybe wheezing; a muffled droning noise.

“Mom?”

On cue, a weak cough. The covers shifted slightly. Cathy caught a whiff of curdled fart. “I think I’m running a fever.”

Cathy rolled her eyes. Here’s Mom, right before I’m ready to kick her out, getting sick. No, making herself sick. What is she, psychic? She turned around and went to get the thermometer, furiously shaking it down on her way back to the bedroom. “Mom’s sick,” she muttered to Gray as she passed.

100.5. And this was significant because, as Mom explained, “I always run half a degree below normal. So it’s really 101. And for someone my age, that’s not good. I’m closer to death than you think.” It had been a long speech, and Cathy should be proud of her stamina. If it weren’t acting. If everyone didn’t run half a degree below 98.6. If the stupid inventor of the thermometer hadn’t miscallibrated it to begin with.

Cathy couldn’t be more angry. But how do you kick your ailing mother out into the cold to catch a bus to the airport? Actually, she could fantasize every moment of it, in great detail. And it gave her a big jolly to think of throwing all Mom’s crap onto the front lawn. She would have never thrown so well or with so much strength and authority. She would scream like a banshee, she would give a martial arts yell from the core of her being that would forever dislodge the evil spirit that resided in her mother.

She sounded like Mom. Cathy was horrified. It felt so good to be so righteous. She backed out of the room, muttered something comforting to Mom, went and got her some water, and shut the door so she could get some sleep. Fleeing,

So Mom settled in a little deeper. Cathy’s step dragged more. Gray grew a little more distant. Star grew a little more petulant. The dogs acted out.

Cathy and Gray were out on a dog walk. The after the workday and before dinner dog walk. Cathy had been cleaning the house, something she almost never did when it was just her and Gray. For some people, cleaning is an activity they do to make themselves feel better, a godliness kind of thing. Cathy associated cleaning with the depths of depression. When she was feeling good, she did creative things. When she felt horrible, she noticed all the gunge and furballs.

Gray had been better occupied. He’d successfully turned the handheld phone Cathy confiscated from the girls into a first rate hidden microphone, currently in service in Mom’s room. He had it connected to the old reel to reel he’d had lying around all these years, and every time Mom snored, it would cut on and record it. Hours of snoring. Stentorian noises that rattled the speakers. Maybe he’d move it, or lower the gain. Maybe run it thru an audio filter on the computer.

Tabasco was feeling frisky because it was a chilly day, and was looking forward to the leaking water meter at the corner. Scootie wasn’t in the mood for a walk, and kept sitting down and straining against the leash. She reminded Cathy of a toy donkey. Sometimes she just pulled Scootie along as if she were on wheels until she felt like trotting forward and behaving herself for three steps. Stumbles was now in full heat, and mounted Tabasco’s leg every time he stopped to pee.

It was a slow walk. Cathy leaned up against Gray, and he winked and put his arm around her. “What’s wrong with your mother?”

“Diverticulitis.” Cathy snuggled in while the dogs yanked and lunged in three different directions. “She’s had it before. Little bits of ex food get stuck in these little pouches in your intestines,and fester. It can be quite dangerous,” she said brightly.

“Shouldn’t she be in the hospital?”

Cathy felt a little guilty. “Well, we could stick her there, but Mom says all they do is make her stay in bed for three days, and she can do that cheaper at home.” She shook her head. “Now it’s home. I can’t stand it.” She clutched at Gray. “I meant so well.”

“And it’s not over.” Tabasco was in a big hurry to go forward, and kept straining, breathing like a leaf blower. ”Do you think she’ll be here when Star has her baby?”

“Oh, God. Maybe that’s part of her plan. And then she’ll be in a position to move the rest of her stuff in and say she’ll be taking care of the baby. But really it’d be me caring for the lot of them.”

Gray patted her hand. “I won’t let it get that far.” They held hands briefly before the dogs noticed and pulled them apart.

Tabasco finally reached the broken water meter. It pooled nicely at the corner, a warm, muddy place with loads of smells and all t hat gooky stuff that felt so good to his flea-bitten hide. He finished pulling Gray with all his strength and stopped to sip the rich liquor of the pool. Then, delicately, he positioned himself at the deepest part and lowered himself with a plop into the water. It was such a cool shock, delightful. Then he started to roll and wag from side to side, twisting to get all of his back wet. Ecstatic, Tabasco crawled a little ways, rubbing his chest and his belly and his pizzle and his thighs in the soothing mud. Spa day.

Cathy backed up when Tabasco came rising up out of the muck and shook off. Gray’s pants legs turned dark in big spots. Scootie looked up from her delicate lapping at the edge of the pool, annoyed. Stumbles changed color entirely. Tabasco looked like a wildebeest with a mohawk.

“Seen any more of Spike?” Cathy asked as they rounded the corner and started for home. Scootie was now the lead dog, and started pulling, looking for a trophy. Stumbles decided she could probably part with some of her hard earned shit, and started wheeling around looking for the right spot.

Tabasco was rushing around undecided if he wanted to smell or pee on things at the maximum right or left reach of his chain. Gray staggered like a drunk. “As a matter of fact,” he replied, stopping to wheel Tabasco around by his leash. Tabasco went what and wagged his tail. I’m not doing anything wrong. “Spike has been by daily, and he seems to be making no effort to hide himself.”

“I should stand and peer thru the front shutters more often.” Stumbles shat out two little balls and delicately stepped six inches, still hunched over, and squeezed out another. Scootie followed her around, watching closely and inhaling deeply. When Stumbles moved on another six inches, Scootie squatted and tried to shit an even better pile, but nothing came out and she finally tottered along remembering she had to get home. “So Spike’s doing what, exactly?”

“He’s cruising by slowly once or twice a day. Sometimes he sits at the end of the block where he can see anyone coming or going. Once he came up to the house and walked around it without waking the dogs.” The dogs preened. Scootie jumped up and licked Tabasco’s nose, and he graciously let Stumbles smooch his dick.

“How many cameras?”

“Counting the one on the roof…a hundred and twelve.” Covering the front, Gray had a camera in the door knocker, one in the tree shading the front yard, one on the neighbor’s front porch eave, and two on the utility pole looking both ways down the street. Covering the sides there was one in the dogwood tree and one strapped to an old ham radio antenna. And in the back, one on the roof. Inside, he had every room covered, and every door, and several mystery places besides. Gray had discovered the joy of watching people going about their daily business. It’s what’s kept god amused all these years.

“But why would he come by at random times? Does he expect to catch her sitting on the porch having a smoke?” Gray just looked at her. Cathy untangled the leashes and carefully stepped out of a leg snare the dogs had woven for her. “I mean, I’ve caught her smoking in the attic. Why would she bother going out of doors?” Gray just looked at her. He figured that she’d ask when she really wanted to know. Right now she was just hedging.

go to tomorrow’s writing

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