(This Side Down and out)
Written By: Jory Stultz
" The floor of the apartment was still nice and red back then, but the room was still filled with pale brown boxes that contained all my material goodies. At that point I couldn’t wait to break them open and be able to show off my Bose Home Theatre System with Dolby 4.0. Surround sound, my humongo Apex television ( I mentioned earlier.),
My home office equipped with the best computer American money could buy, and last but not least, my favorite, get ready folks because this one’s a doozy and a half. My very own personal paper shredder. That’s right. You can have one too! Just visit your local Best Buy and ask for the Ultra Shredtron 5000 and this machine will destroy all the evidence that you ever made a mistake in your home office! We can’t have people knowing you made a typo. For Christ sake don’t let them know you’re human. You don’t want them catching on, do you? Perhaps someday some Portuguese scientist will invent a machine that will divest us of all our flaws, and oh how dandy it would be.
Getting back on track now. My neighbor was an old bitch. An old bitch with a lot of cats. I felt bad, not for the woman, but for the cats. They were always trapped inside her tiny apartment. Cramped into one little eating, puking, shitting, pissing area, all together, all the time. The cats were only outside if their owner "Rebecca Streda" ( Hmmm… Now that I think about it, that sounds very Jewish… She must have been Jewish… Anyway) If she inadvertently left her window open, the cats would try to escape out of it onto the tiny outcropping just outside the window.
Imagine this: 26 Stories up + the wind’s blowing at a good 30 mph + one 4" ledge + one 15 lb. Kitty cat = A not so good outcome.( Or clean in that matter.) You’d actually be surprised at the conclusion of one cat falling from so many stories high. A cat actually has a better chance at living if it falls from a higher window. Why? Because the higher the window, the more time the cat has to reach a steady velocity. This comfortable speed gives the creature time to relax.
Think of it like riding in a car. You’re going at a rate of 120 mph it still feels like you’re only going 80 mph, there’s a reason. Once you’ve reached a set speed your body can relax.
If a cat falls from a lower level it will still be trying to brace itself for the fall. This on the other hand will kill the pussy on impact. Interesting fact, huh? Anyway, I guess I can begin here…
One of Rebecca’s cat’s was dying. It jumped and lived, by God. She salvaged it half alive on the street below and brought it back to the apartment. And who does she decide to call for help…? Me! The poor shmuck with a Fake Veterinarian Degree…
( I’ll explain later.)
" My poor baby Nanny! My poor baby Nanny!!!!" She screamed and screamed and screamed. I was on the other end of the phone of course, and I couldn’t understand a word she squealed. The first sound I heard when I picked up the phone was Nanny. Her tall slender calico. That cat had the loudest mouth I have ever heard on any cat. It would sit behind her door and screech as if it were hanging by its tail from the ceiling fan. I tried to calm Rebecca down. Eventually it worked, but she did carry on for quite some time, before she gave one last infuriating snort and began breathing conventionally.
" Just calm down Ms. Streda. Please, if you need my help, you’re going to have to tell me what’s wrong." God I sounded like a real professional.
She was still shaky at this point. I could tell by her breathing pattern. She then opened her mouth making a restrained wet like sound. I could just see her saliva sticking viscously to her droopy upper lip as she slowly began to say, " My kitty… My kitty is dying…"
I knew right then exactly why she called me. I had told her before I was a Veterinarian and right about then I wished I hadn’t. The conversation was brief, if I remember correctly. She did say something about her cats and it just slipped out. The way it always does. For some folks it’s just to impress people , and others it’s just to make them feel better about themselves. Why do I do it? I don’t know.
Everyday I come home feeling worse then I did the day before. There really is no pleasure in it. I was a compulsive liar. I know everyone wears masks and you never really do know a person,
but I wore a mask behind a mask, behind a mask. I was an empty shell in a casket, a rusted up old trigger, an isolated train wreck, I was absolutely nothing. My mouth hung halfway agape when I came back to reality.
" Don’t worry mam’ I’ll be right over."
" Please, please hurry!"
And so I rushed to her apartment.
I knocked on the door and the odor coming from behind it was the dry smell of death. The musty smell of an untouched crawlspace, merged with the stale smell of vintage wall paper, curling at the edges. As I knocked I could hear her muffled weeping, and her heavy set footsteps approaching the door. There was a peak hole, and I’m almost sure she gawked at me through it with her beady eye, after carefully removing her dusty spectacles from her fatigued face.
Then there was a brief rattling noise as she unlocked her door chain. The door creaked open… And there was her face, sopping with tears, and sweat, drying to her flaccid brow.
If there was a god he would let this old thing die. If there was a god, he’d let me die. This was no place for me, but I obviously didn’t care. I had to look keen while I was on the job. I had to look like a professional. She nodded and welcomed me in.
The apartment was trashed. She knew she was going soon, and she just didn’t care anymore. It’s a shame to think, it takes our entire life to accept our fate. The most simple concept, and it takes a lifetime to accept. Maybe that’s why I can be of the same mind with most of the older people I come across. They have a better understanding of how things work, how things break, and how they shut down.
She directed me to her cat who laid inert on the floor, wrapped in stiff towels and old yarn blankets. The odour thickened as we loomed toward the cat. The first thing I noticed was its malformed body. Its bones were tangled and distorted making its thin layer of skin wilt over its body in a peculiar fashion. My initial response was to look away, but I knew that wouldn’t look good, I forced myself to look at the dying cat. I had to go through with this. I had to. This old woman depended on it. She depended on me. I was no vet, but there was no questions asked, this cat was definitely going to die. I kneeled down and reached my hand out to touch it. Just then it lashed out in a full body spasm attack. This of course startled me. I jumped back. Damn it! That was not professional at all, but for some reason I got away with it. Ms. Streda still stared at her poor stiff kitty, with salty tears in her eyes.
Then it occurred to me. The cat twitched. Holy shit! I knew this one. I knew why it was twitching. Being somewhat of an insomniac I have become quite fond of the Discovery Channel. One of the only stations with 24 hr. air time, with no paid programming.
Late one night I was channel surfing…
( Night is when they play all the sick and sacrilegious things that are to edgy to be played during normal hours.) I came across the Discovery channel. The overwhelming brightness and overuse of the color white, caught my eye. It was a Save & Rescue episode where a kitten was dying from kitty leukaemia. It was laying half dead wrapped up in a plastic mantle, under a halogen spot light surrounded by doctors in blue suits trying their damndest to save him. I remember the cat twitching. It was going into spasms because It’s brain was basically going haywire with reflex tests. The brain, being the central nervous system, controls every portion of the body. What it does, what it feels, and how it reacts. When you die, you’re usually dead before your body stops functioning. It’s really amazing what you can learn from late night television.
I explained this to Ms. Streda as well as I could, leaving out the Discovery Channel as a whole, and she bought it. She bought it like a poor person would buy a hope trip from a complete stranger. I was at my alter ego peak. The bar was set. I couldn’t have been any more full of myself then I was when I shammed a poor old woman to believe I was a veterinarian, while she snivelled over her off dying cat.
And then something happened. Without words in my head, telling me how to feel, I felt something. An empty pain that meddled in the depths of my stomach. My ego trip took a nose dive into the void in which I stared through.
Watching that cat die really made me feel like shit. The sounds of the room were filtered out as I entered the doors to nothingness. Everything turned white and I floated through the ceiling that wasn’t there. Through the sky, through the moon, floating in oblivion forever. Tranquillity with absolutely no hope. Everything, white.
Serene and white…
" Hello! Are you okay?" Welcome back to reality.
I sat staring at the cat, I glanced up at Ms. Streda.
" Yeah… Yeah I’m fine. Sorry… I just don’t like it when I have to see animals… In…" I was stuttering. Kick it in gear Andy, you idiot.
" In such critical condition." Yes, good. You used the word critical. Very sharp!
We sat there just staring in an inept gawp. Speak! Say something you old bitch, I sure as hell can’t think of anything. And just for the record, I didn’t. She said something before I could make a complete asshole out of myself.
" Can you save her?"
I looked at the cat. Its eyes wide open and its mouth gaping with its dry tongue prodding out. This cat had no chance.
We sat in another awkward silence.
" What are we going to do?"
" All I can do for her is put her down." How? I had no clue. I didn’t have a coffer at home full of sterile syringes and needles, and a cabinet full of small-bottled chemicals. Especially the exact kind I needed to inject into this poor animal putting it calmly to rest…
but perhaps my Vet office did…
" I might be able to take her to my office and put her to sleep." Andy you sick fuck.
" Tonight?" Her face slightly loosened up.
" Yes mam’." Good God. I was actually going through with it. What the hell was I thinking? Nothing I guess. Nothing at the time, but that was the price I was willing to pay.
" If… If that’s what you think is best for my Nanny then…" In the middle of her sentence she broke down and began crying again, "Then I guess… That’s… What we should do…" She then began her rendition of the old song "Heaven" where she replaced the word heaven, with the cat’s nick name, Nanner. The song went something like this… " Nanner… I’m in Nanner… And I love her more than words can speak… And I love it when we’re dancing cheek to cheek…" She cried through the entire song. This song made me even softer to the moment. I continued to sigh, and stare at the floor.
It was time for me to take the cat. I looked up at her.
" I think it’s time we-"
" Nanner… Mamas Nanner… I love you more than words can speak…"
There I was… Standing on the empty bridge… Nobody around but me and good ol’ Nanny, who was now wrapped up in a hefty bag. Hefty; An all American trash bag. Ready to serve its country as a coffin for the dead. I wasn’t worried. The bag was biodegradable and so was Nanny. I felt that strange feeling again. I entered the doors to the white abyss and felt nothing. This time a sound brought me back to reality. The sound of the cat hitting the water. Sinking to its watery grave. I glanced down over the railing and saw the last bit of the trash bag sink under leaving only temporary bubbles as evidence. I couldn’t help but smile…
And this my friend is only the beginning of my sick desperation…