Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Newark, Two Weeks Later

Part of Majestic's Story:

     It was a Monday morning Down Neck.  Dree RainCave woke to the thunderous insistence of the object of his allergies kneading him somewhat impatiently in the gut.  "Dammit, Majestic!" Dree groaned.  Majestic rubbed his massive head just under Dree's pointed chin and then eyed the kitchen furtively.  Dree knew any hope for more sleep was doomed.  Over the last two weeks, Dree discovered that the cat's internal schedule dictated breakfast at five a.m.  Majestic was no pussy.  He was determined to train this new human properly.  

     Majestic had known seventeen other humans in the tenement over the course of his nine years there.  One of those humans had experienced the profound consequences of what happened when a thought to mistreat the feline Master of the household became action.  Majestic had gone Majestic on him in a big way.  That one's decaying flesh occasionally still fluttered on the breeze from The Abandoned Field two blocks west of here.  The male in charge of the humans who had come here to hide-- Majestic had heard various ones refer to him as That Damn Stan-- barged his way in one morning, said something that sounded like "oh shit" and a few other things that sounded like Yiddish curses, and had left in a hurry.  That Damn Stan had returned at midnight with two burnt out stumble-bums and some shovels.  

     The newest lump on the newest cheap mattress was rolling out of bed now to Majestic's satisfaction and scurried over to the cat food kept now in a bottom cabinet near the kitchen sink.  Majestic wound around Dree's legs happily.  Dree deposited some food in the cat's dish and changed the water bowl. 

     Majestic crunched happily on the cat food.  With one eye, he watched as Dree RainCave stumbled toward the bathroom for a piss and a shower.  The woman Honey had fled in the night  a week ago Friday.  "I can't do this," Majestic heard Honey say to Dree.  "He's going to give me a job as an assistant until I decide what to do next," she told her now ex-beau.  And off she went to Philly with someone that she called Kenneth.  He came in a broken down Lincoln  borrowed from a friend, no questions asked.

     Dree had cried that night long and hard.  Majestic stayed close to him.  Like some felines and many canines, Majestic knew that to allow a human to pet him was a privilege that somehow healed up a bit the broken places in that human.  The first thing Dree had done upon waking up alone The Morning After Honey Left was to check the bathroom.  The six houseplants were still there.  Her toiletries were not.  Dree sighed, put the six houseplants in a box, and had set the box down in the park by the fountain.  The second thing he did was score some marijuana from a pimply-faced kid by the fountain.

     Majestic knew that Dree RainCave had begun smoking the weed because of the sickly sweet odor it had emitted.  He also knew that Dree had combed through the baggie and shaken it until the seeds were separated from the rest of it.  Carefully, Dree had sorted the seeds.  Some of them he had placed in boxes which were filled with dirt-- Majestic recognized it as dirt coming from The same Abandoned Field that now held the remains of the cat abuser-- and then astonishingly left them in a sort of closet with lights that he had built himself.  Dree was over by said closet now.  Majestic watched him check the boxes and then gently close the door as if he was afraid to waken a sleeping child before its nap was finished.  Silly humans.

     Dree was back in the kitchen now making coffee on the stove.  It wasn't coffee exactly.  It was wild chicory root which Dree had found in The Abandoned Field one morning.  Majestic wished that Dree would find some catnip in The Abandoned Field and smoke that instead of the weed.  Or at least allow Majestic to roll in it and get high his own self.  Dree poured some cereal into a bowl, added a bit of milk, and plodded it and a cup of chicory-coffee on the table.  He sat down then.  Majestic immediately jumped into Dree's lap and began head-butting Dree.  Dree was responding well to the training and scratched Majestic in All Of The Right Places and muttered endearing phrases to him.  Majestic purred in response.

     Dree fiddled with the hanger he had attached to an old radio he had confiscated from The Abandoned Field.  W-BAI came in, wobbly at first but then clear.  Majestic snuggled in Dree's lap.  He was a musical cat for all of his fight and prowess.  He loved the sonorous sounds coming out of the radio.  Dree listened to the news and then got up.  He left the radio on much to Majestic's secret satisfaction.  "Later Majestic!" Dree called and he left the apartment.  Majestic heard his steps crunching through the glass and litter of the alley.  Majestic headed over to the sofa for his morning nap.  He wasn't exactly sure what Dree did on his morning rambles.  Since The Morning After Honey Left, Dree's clothing smelled increasingly of dirt and marijuana.  Some days Dree would stumble back to the apartment empty-handed.  Other days he was barely able to unlock the door to the apartment, his arms laden with wires and parts of things that Majestic-- being a cat born Down Neck-- had no idea what to make of.  

     Dree was building something.  Of that, Majestic was sure.  Some of the others had been tinkerers as well.  But this thing that Dree was building was more complex than anything that Majestic had watched the others build.  There was an old fish tank-- two other inhabitants had tried keeping fish-- but no water and no tasty fin snacks came to inhabit it.  Dree had ordered Majestic to stay away from the wires protruding out of various little boxes and things.  He hadn't said anything about the fish tank.  Majestic crept off the couch and waltzed over to the tank now.  It was hiding behind the couch just under the window.  Majestic settled in for a nap.

     Something woke him that Monday.  It was mid-afternoon.  There was a noise like a scraping first.  It persisted through the dream that Majestic was having of running through The Abandoned Field in the glorious sunlight.  Majestic opened one eye.  Two shadows had entered the apartment.  He felt the vibrations of their padded footsteps on the old wooden floor rather than heard them.  Damn.  Majestic cautiously dislodged himself from the fish tank and sauntered over to the edge of the couch.  The two shadows were carefully rummaging through Dree RainCave's laundry which was, truth be told, laying in a heap just outside the bathroom door.  One of the shadows placed something in the corner as the other grunted and said, "Nothing here."  The grunting shadow stood in the bathroom door then and said "Holy shit" as he stared towards Majestic's litter box.  The other shadow had reached for the door to the closet that held Dree's dream-- a successful marijuana business started from seedlings.

     Majestic became incensed.  These murky shadows had a smell about them.  Some primitive memory dislodged itself from his feline brain.  He growled then and sprang for the shadow by the closet door first.  He latched on to the backside of the shadow, digging in with his ragged neglected claws.  The shadow cursed and swung around in fury.  Majestic bit him in a tender part of his neck and then dashed over to the shadow still staring at the litter box.  The shadow turned around and attempted to kick away the husky enraged feline.  Majestic aimed for the shadow's nuts.  His teeth sunk in through the material of the subject's pant material.  A satisfying crunch and then Majestic wove his way back to the shadow with the bleeding neck and back.  Both shadows had drawn their guns.  Majestic had prior experience at being target practice for a small gang of young thugs at the park and he knew what to do.  He twisted away and danced around his two opponents, swiping and biting whenever the opportunity presented itself.  

     "Oh fuck," screamed the shadow with the now lopsided balls as Majestic aimed for a second and a third strike.  "I'm done!"  Both shadows made for the living room window.  Shattered glass heralded their departure.  A van with tinted windows pulled away from the curb.  Majestic watched it go and laughed a silent cat laugh.  He then positioned himself on the window ledge and remained awake, waiting for Dree RainCave's return.  He hoped Dree wouldn't be high today.

                    ~  evening, that same Monday ~   

     Majestic heard the lock of the back door.  He knew it was Dree RainCave.  He ran over to him, meowing loudly.  He herded Dree toward the freezer where the cell phone had its residence.  He screeched every time Dree endeavored to detour to the living room.  "Want some food, Majestic?"  The cat hissed at him and bit his ankle.  Majestic sensed that he wasn't getting through to Dree.  He began shoving him toward the broken window in the living room.

     Dree spotted the window.  "Shit," he said.  Majestic jumped on the sill and hissed loudly.  Then he ran over to Dree's laundry and hissed loudly again.  Then he ran to the closet with the pot seeds and hissed a third time.  Majestic repeated this routine three times.  Dree walked over to his dirty clothing.  Majestic head-butted him until he was looking at the wall.  He found the bug.  "Shit!" he said.  And then, "Shit!  Shit!  Shit!"  Dree hurried to the kitchen freezer and grabbed the cell phone.  He then left the apartment, banging the door loudly.  Majestic watched from the broken window.  Dree was at the park fountain now.  Majestic reappeared at the fountain in front of Dree who was talking excitedly into the phone.  Majestic caught enough human speech to understand that Dree was talking to That Damn Stan.  Suddenly, Dree slammed the phone on the fountain ledge, breaking it into pieces.  He picked a slender rectangular part out of it and left the pile of black plastic there.

     Dree took a breath.  He headed over to The Abandoned Field.  Majestic trailed behind him.  Truth to be told, Majestic had begun to love this human.  He didn't want to take his chances with whoever the next strange tenants of the dwelling would be.  Dree reached the field then and pretended to look down through the stubble.  In a few minutes, the ramshackle old truck that had delivered Dree and Honey to their brief sanctuary Down Neck pulled up.  Dree didn't have to be told what to do.  He climbed over the back gate and burrowed down among the bags of rotting fruit.  He felt something large and heavy thud down next to him.  Majestic purred then just a little bit.  "You can't come," Dree whispered.  For an answer, Majestic bit him in the nose and settled in next to his human.  The truck pulled away.  Darkness came and then sleep for the two stowaways.

                               ~ to be continued  ~