The cat was a stranger to us; a fully-grown calico I discovered on the street in front of this house where I was living back then. Corner of a semi-busy street. I was stretching, gazing out the window to see whether there was any interesting life out there, how the traffic was doing, and noticed something twitch in the gutter.
I opened the door, went outside, stood by the curb where a cat lay. It had been run over by a car, and its spine was hopelessly twisted. It jerked spasmodically. I examined it without touching. Bent closer to see.
One of its eyes was blinking and darting in horror and panic, while the other remained open, fully dilated and blank, not responding to light, not moving, much like a doll’s eye.
It had obviously suffered severe brain damage, yet parts of it continued to function.
I stood up from the animal, watching it pant.
A six-year old child of the woman I lived with at that time became a concerned though ineffective nurse. She brought the animal in off the street, found a box for it, lay the cat in there. She proceeded to sit over it in the living room and stare, respectfully, mournfully, waiting for it to die. It didn’t. She became bored with the beast in the box and left to find something more interesting to do.
The damaged cat became active. It managed to flop about, even climb out of the box and stumble a few paces. There was no semblance of a cat’s finesse remaining. It turned tortuously, the rear of its body bending to the left. It never meowed, or shrieked, whether from pulverized vocal chords or brain damage I had no idea. It tripped and struggled in aimless determination, falling on its snout or plopping on its hind quarters, then laying inert, panting, worn-out, unable to orientate itself.
First discovered in the morning, it was still alive by mid-afternoon.
The decision, adult and reasoned, was to destroy it.
In those days, there was very little extra money to take this stranger’s cat to a vet and pay for its humane extinction.
So the few other solutions remaining were considered. None of them good. I recalled having favorite pets taken from me in childhood by reasoning parents and gassed to death somewhere where I could not see it.
I followed in these traumatic footsteps.
I took the cat by the scruff of its neck from its tortured place on the floor, carried it to the kitchen and stuffed it into the oven. I closed the oven door, switched on the gas and left the room.
Returning later, I stood in the kitchen doorway, head cocked. I heard it within the gas stove: nothing, then a thrashing about. Reluctantly opening the oven door, it immediately flopped halfway out, mouth ajar, unmoving tongue stuck out, breathing, laying there. The undead.
Discouraged, dismayed, half of me impressed, even pleased, with its determined clinging to life; the other half of me impatient at its rude desire to keep panting on in spite of my faulty expedient of gassing it out of its misery.
So the next, last, foolproof alternative was taken: drown the panting bastard.
In the patio, after filling a large, yellow bucket with water, I wrapped an old dish towel round its head. Taking a big breath myself, I stuck the beast’s body deep within, head first.
At first, there was absolutely no reaction. Thank God it was going to go peacefully, quietly, quickly.
Then the first tremor of protest, followed by a panicked jerk. The body began quivering mightily and struggling, but with a lack of coordination or strength.
Upside down in the bucket, with a single hind leg that still functioned, the leg jerked upward with its claws out, kicking the air. It sought a hold to latch onto, to hoist itself clear. It sought survival still. I observed the wet hind leg continue to jerk in the air, seeking, trying. To this day, I still see vividly that single hind-leg kicking hopelessly in the air.
I kept its head pushed down toward the bottom of the bucket.
It quivered; I quivered—in a rush I reached into the bucket and snatched the towel away from its head to insure that all the water possible filled it lungs…. My hands were still plunged into the water, holding it down. There was horror, there was desperation.
Finally, it ceased to move; no bubbles rose from its mouth to pop on the surface. Its heart continued to quake under my hand in what I took to be spasms.
I stood back, letting it lay upside down in the water, all unmoving, its one now motionless rear leg still sticking out of the water. Still no bubbles, nothing stirred.
I lifted it out by its tail, laid it down, and then, saw under its fur the movement of its heart. I yelped and backed away. “Look!” I pointed, “Spasms–” and again – “They have to be spasms…”
I wrapped it in rags, dug a hole in the backyard, tossed it in, and covered it with dirt. I never dared check again whether its unobliging heart still beat on.
Archive for April, 2010
Title says it all. I got this cherry tree in my backyard. It bloomed, briefly. Strolled out, took some video, put this together. One minute’s worth.
Each Wednesday I try to put out a video. This week, it’s relax and coast time.
Click here to see the video.
Thanks for visiting. Vincent E.
When I go to the local three story super-über-alles gym near me, I walk the short, ten minute distance–the idea being that I get exercise from the very moment I step out the door to the last moment I step back in for tea and pastry to try and neutralize my exercise and whatever benefits I’d managed to gather. Get them back down to zero and make sure the universe, my universe, stays in balance.
And it is a balancing act, this good-for-me exercise versus good-for-me sloth. Get too much exercise and I feel as though I have to sit around doing nothing in a major way just so my body understands I’m not going to go all macho fitness fanatic on it. My body responds nicely by neither gaining nor loosing weight. We are in agreement. My body yings and yangs along, comprehending my balancing act.
Anyway, when I walk to the gym, I usually take a short cut through what seems a rather under-used hospital and its parking lot. Detached from the main building, I pass a rather unadorned one-story squat pile of gray and dull red bricks. There’re tiny windows stuck high up near the roof so I can’t peek in. A modest plaque posted near the door states that this structure is the hospital’s morgue. This building’s primary job is to motivate me once I’m in the gym.
But once in gym-land, I only ever do one of two things. I swim, or I sauna. Everything else is too much like plain old ugly exercise. I don’t like to run in one place or lift things, or strain my heart muscle, or turn red in the face. So a lot of the gym’s three-story building is mostly a modernized Dark Ages Torture chamber for people who pay good money and require a certain level of self-gratifying pain and strain. The sauna is my speed: just lie there and self-clean. Without moving a muscle. But it’s also a favorite gathering spot for chunky, thick-jawed, one eyebrow Eastern Europeans or Albanians or something really foreign and threatening. They have facial stubble, wide shoulders and look like hit men who enjoy their work, at least in my movie. They come in packs of threes and grunt and mumble and make me want to cover my genitals and tell them I don’t owe anyone any money.
The best thing about the sauna is lying there naked and free and sweating in a meditative quiet, in a sweat bliss of silence. But when the ex-Soviet Block hit squad isn’t there and mumbling, two or more local guys come in and treat the place like a café down the corner. For me, a sauna is a bit like a dark, quiet church. For these others, it’s time to talk office politics or brag about bargains they got in IT equipment. They’re not atuned to social niceties like, shut the fuck up, idiots, which is always on the tip of my cowardly tongue. It’s hard, really hard, to listen to crap when you sweat. There I am trying to clean my pores, and there they are dumping aural junk in my ear holes.
Then I think of the morgue outside, waiting for my return walk-by, and I stick it out a bit longer, cleansing something that may be dirty, diseased, or just weird accumulated gunk I knew nothing about. Enduring foreign words of vague threat or unmitigated triviality, enduring beyond the morgue outside, enduring for the moment.
Another short segment from my play, “Max Dix, Zero to Six”. It can only give a taste of the use of video work with actors. This concerns two brothers (as children) listening to their parents fight in the next room. Then the father leaves….
Here’s the link to the video.
Here’s another segment: The Soap Opera Scene.
Here’s some stills extracted from the video:
Hope you enjoy. Thanks for visiting.
Judy used to like driving her car. A little power in her hands, moving along. A sense of getting somewhere she was headed toward.
Then the animals took over the streets and lately driving had become an urban mano-à-mano experience.
Pleasure had been replaced by other people. Other people in other cars who induced in her a feeling of rational paranoia: she knew they were out to get her.
A for instance. No one any longer knew how to use their blinkers. Cars right in front of her turned abruptly left or unexpectedly right without any warning as though part of Judy’s job experience as a car driver was now mind reading.
Then there were those other numerous idiots who fantasized they were race car drivers and just could not resist racing her, even though the traffic light just ahead was red. Many major bozos functioning solely with their primitive brain pan whizzed past her driver’s window, cutting right in front of her at the last moment. As though receiving extra bonus points or able to go to another level on some game Judy had no idea about. Then would come their rear lights, reddening up as they stomped on their brakes to sit at the red light waiting for the green to turn up.
And Judy sat in her car, now behind them, thinking spit and knives, one-on-one terrorist acts festering in her glove compartment, roaring images of not stopping her car, of continuing driving right up their car’s backside, rolling on top, squashing down on them, ridding the world of one more urban idiot with a valid driver’s license.
She also wanted to flash her lights, honk her horn, scream and scream. She also wanted to get out of her car and go knock on their window and wag a finger in their face, and give them what for.
But she behaved herself with only her hands making damp squeaky sounds as the flesh of her palm ground around the steering wheel, working out the tension.
And she saw that it was always, inevitably, a guy, some young male with no doubt a low sperm count and big inarticulate needs with dirt underneath his fingernails whose dreams consisted of successfully waking up in the morning, all ambitions of his narrow life already met.
Judy had her moments. In her imagination. Other scenes. Full of illegal urges. Beyond running into them to teach them a lesson. Or at least ruin their day. Get them off the road. For a while. The impulse passed. Barely. Yet returned often. Often.
It was just no fun to drive her car in city traffic any longer. All the aggression, rudeness, all the effort of controlling her anger.
In minor revenge, people on pedestrian crossings became target practice. Here she would be the boss and make people jump back on the curb when she drove up. Glowering, tense, alive with some sense of power.
When there was no rush to get somewhere she thought she had to get to quickly, she would sometimes stop and obey the law, letting people without cars cross the crosswalk.
Judy’d rev her engine a little just to see them pick their pace up a bit.
Last week she had come upon a young black guy who looked half-asleep, slouching at the curb, waiting.
She was going to go straight across the crosswalk, without even slowing. This was one guy who could wait.
But getting closer, she could see he was holding something close. Judy thought it looked as though it was a baby wrapped up in different colorful small blankets his chest. He was hardly glancing at the traffic, a little to the left, little to the right, without much hope or real interest. He was laying-back.
As Judy approached, he placed his right shoe tip onto the first white line of the crosswalk. As though testing the water before going in. He stayed this way, looking neither left nor right.
These days someone starting to cross the street was no reason for Judy to stop; more a reason to speed up.
Magnanimously, Judy slowed. Stopped.
The man still did not look up. Not at Judy, not at her car, as he put his other foot onto the crosswalk. She watched his slow, sleepy movements, the bundle of cloth containing a baby he held. Then as he passed the front of her car, she saw an unfolding of his hand that faced her. Fingers appeared. She watched as he made a casual, hip-high peace sign in her direction. He held it as he crossed, keeping his eyes on the white lines ahead of him and his hands supporting the baby. Then the fingers curled back to hold the child tighter as he reached the other side and stepped up and left the crosswalk.
She sat there, feeling strange, until someone honked from behind.
For the next days, Judy stopped fairly regularly at crossings, seeking more peace signs.
In my continuing series, MATCHES, which consists of me reaching into a plastic bag filled with matches I’ve collected over the years, then pulling one out, and making a short video on what I immediately recall about them.
Click this line to go to THE CRAB COOKER video…
Hope you enjoy (leave a comment here or on YouTube … if you are so inspired). Thanks for visiting.
The last MATCHES video can be found here: UNION OYSTER HOUSE.
The first MATCHES video can be found here: TAGAWA.
Very short installment this week. Very long one next week. Audio editing a great time suck. To get it right. As one wants to, for you. And you. And you.
ENJOY BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE ON THIS LINK THAT’S RIGHT HERE: 21 – PART THREE – From the Bedford Clinic