Regardless (Ep. 103)

There was a tabby cat, see. This tabby cat was orange and preferred going about its days with its anus as clean as a whistle. It would sit where it sat, the cat, and lick the day away and then swallow what it collected on its sandpapery tongue because I don’t think felines know how to spit, and then the cat would be happy, freshly groomed, its essentially virgin asshole glimmering in the sunshine—taking exception, of course, to that one time he got a tinge curious with the alley cats—and then the tabby cat would sleep. The tabby cat’s name was Duck McMillian. He was a Scottish cat, from the Isle of Lewis. His home was a garbage can.

Duck lived a solitary life, seeing that he was abandoned nearly straight from the womb, fresh off his mother’s overcrowded Celtic teat and popped into a sack bound for the promising lands of North America by way of a cargo ship the size of a dozen city blocks. Though escaped from his burlap limitations, he was restrained to his container for the duration of the voyage and was discovered upon death’s verge upon his arrival at a harbor that smelled like high profit margins and low wages. The buildings were tall behind the shaded black figure looming at the cusp of the cargo-container door, and rain fell hard atop the figure’s yellow slicker, sounding as though the container were being interspersed with a peppering of 9mm bullets.

Luckily, this person was a cat person, and was simply delighted to have found a friend. This person’s name was Phillis Mackerel, and she had a tuna sandwich in her pocket, then charitably placed in front of Duck who had his first meal in what he figured was two weeks.

“I’ll be back right away with a couple bottles of water,” Phillis Mackerel said, biting her bottom lip and looking around the container, behind her, to the container’s left and to the container’s right. “It’ll be best I shut the door,” she said. “It’ll be dark again,” she said. “But I’ll be back in a jiff. Here,” she went on, fumbling through her slicker’s pocket. She was holding something in a black case, its face glowing, and she tapped its face a few times before activating a light on its back as bright as the sun. She placed it face-up in the corner of the container. “There’s a little light, don’t need my phone anyways. I’m pretty tired of the collections people, and, also, I killed my boyfriend last night and I’m scared I’m being followed—

“Shh,” she pleaded.

Phillis Mackerel smiled like a shard of jagged glass.

She disappeared for an hour or thereabouts, returning with a flat of Pellegrino and a Big Mac sandwich. She was eager to sit, eager to talk, glad—or so Duck discerned—to be in the presence of someone who knew the baser instinct of being alive, which, according to Phillis Mackerel, was to kill people and stuff them in your freezer for later eating.

“His calves were like fruitcakes,” she described. “And his thighs were turkeys. His tongue went well in a spinach soup. I blended his nails with bacon bits and put them on salad with tobacco onions all doused in a feta-blood-gristle vinaigrette.”

Fortunately, Duck’s English was toddleresque at best.

Duck kept eating his tuna sandwich. Phillis poured a half-bottle of Pellegrino into her empty Big Mac container. It held water surprisingly well, and Duck lapped it up like milk, and his tastes grew costlier, instilling in his soul a longing for the fancier things in life, like spring water bottled in foreign places, and then carbonated, and then sold at high prices in packages of six, or twenty-four if you shopped at Costco…

So, the kitten and the murderess waited out the storm in the gloom of the shipping container. Also, in the shipping container: a Volkswagen Golf GTI, four pallets of shrink-wrapped stuff, a label on each these pallets reading, WARNING, in bold black lettering surrounded by fiery orange. There was no other description. With his stomach full, Duck retired, curled in a ball, snug against Phillis Mackerel’s bony thigh, and slept. He dreamt of nothing, waking hours later to find himself alone in the dark container, the light from the black thing in the corner illuminating his surroundings, still, but Duck was alone, again, and the container buzzed as though alive, and there were many clunks and clanks coming outside his steel prison.

Fortunately: his flat of Pellegrino water.

There were two bottles to spare when his transport came to a grinding, squealing halt. And then he waited,

And waited,

And waited,

And waited.

And waited.

Suddenly, the crate filled with a blaze of sunlight, blinding poor Duck. Boot heels sounded on metal and then came a voice. “There you go, Dookie! There’s some pussy for ya!


But, Duck, still blind, shuffled backwards so as to hide beneath the red Golf GTI despite the intruder’s calls. “Here pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy, heeeere pussy pussy…”

“Leave the thing alone, jabroni, no one cares about a mangy cat. Fetch the pallets and let’s get a move on—they’re overdue, and Uncle Sam ain’t too happy about that.”

Duck split for the door and leapt into the sun as though it would save him. He immediately met a hot wall and tumbled two Golf-lengths to the ground, where he found himself in the shade atop a ladder running along the ground. The ground was pebbles, and Duck ran over them towards the buildings, and he spent his night in the shade of a shed.

Duck deserved better, didn’t he? If you don’t believe that now, surely you will, because Duck spent the following few months living off rainwater and mouse shit. He grew thin, as wispy as poplar fluff. Being the runt of the streets was no easy task, often bullied, often exploited, sometimes pimped. Darkness seemed preferable.

Darkness was preferable.

Life was trying for Duck, and he roamed the streets all day and night looking for a place to call his own, and never could he find it. He kept towards the center of town because Animal Control spent their time around the nice houses, in the clean parts of town where the clean people lived. Duck wasn’t clean. He was nothing close to clean. A skunk once gave him a cannister of Axe body spray…

Duck wanted to kill himself but he didn’t have thumbs.

He couldn’t tie a noose; he was unable to put the barrel of a gun in his mouth…

All Duck possessed were his claws, sharp, capable of splitting flesh that give way to warm, red blood—blood that no one would care for, as it would be from nothing more than a cat…and what a sight that would be: a suicided cat, self-euthanized; dead on a street corner…

What room was there for a cat in a world that didn’t need him?

And then Duck stumbled upon a stout man piddling in a back alley. He was singing to himself nonsensical things—things without rhyme or reason—but he was having a good time, oh yes, he certainly was, pecker a-wagglin’, flatulence slipping from buttocks that hung low and looked like wet paper bags filled with scrambled eggs…

“A cat, man,” the urinating man said to someone out of sight. “Bros, come check it out. What a good lookin’ puss…”

Out from the backdoor of a two-story house, quite large, old, came a tall and lanky guy and one short and squat. Their eyes caught Duck’s immediately, and they stood there, bent at the hips—the tall lanky one leaned against the brick wall—and then called enticingly in the way that I don’t really want to mimic, but in my regular voice it goes:

“Here pussy pussy pussy pussy. Here pussy pussy pussy pussy.”

Duck, enticed, approached warily while at the same time a man in a housecoat exited the same door as the pair prior.

“Someone called?” he asked, and then he laughed. No one paid him any mind.

“What do you figure he looks like?” asked the squat man, maybe around twenty years of age, pimples on his face, loose clothes on his person. Chef whites, as Duck came to know in the coming days…

“Looks like a cat to me,” mused the lanky young man.

The berobed guy said, “He waddles a bit, don’t he? Little bit like this, little bit like that, yeah?”

The others agreed.

It was the once-urinating man who turned around, fly zipped, strutting to the approaching cat, meeting him halfway. He placed his thumb on Duck’s chin and softly stroked, and Duck melted to the concrete and rolled to his back. Oh, how pleasant it was to be touched, to be pet, to be seen, to be appreciated…

“Erin’ll kill us,” said the once-urinating man. “Pretty sure Elly’s allergic.”

Duck quite enjoyed this place, these people, though the soupy smell of back alley proved a burden on the nostrils—he’d acclimate to it though, Duck figured, eyeing a portion of the wall between the blue and green garbage cans; there was a small nook in the wall there, a place to keep out of the elements…a place to call home, dare Duck consider it…

“I doubt Eddie would take kindly to the presence of a cat,” the squat guy put forward, and then the once-urinating man spoke lightly to Duck, thus:

“Dano,” he introduced. “You hungry?”

Duck meowed.

“Thirsty, too?”

Duck meowed, and Dano asked of his mates to fetch a bowl of milk and a can of salmon. He placed the fare softly at the foot of the doorstep to the large house and sat there with Duck as Duck ate—Dano lit a cigarette and drank some beer, and it wasn’t long before the three others from earlier exited the brick house with lawn chairs in hand, then pitched in the center of the alley.

“Another roomie,” one of the men said—the one in the robe. “And a cute one. Finally.”

“You got a thing for Elly and you know it Colin,” another said.

“Who doesn’t?” Colin returned, and again they sat in the moment, living in it.

It was Khori who put the name forward first, noting the cat’s waddle…

“Should name him Duck,” said Khori, and Colin returned a touch drunkenly,

“Duck fucks!” he said, and Duck quite enjoyed that, purring jocularly, pushing against Dano’s padded calf.

It suffices to say that Duck was adopted by this gaggle of youngsters who seemed to have no purpose other than to live, and to be. Time passed as though it wasn’t, and be it that burdens piled on to the youngsters, be it that it were other things such as the effect of being surfaced, rearing its ugly head, but Duck, over the years, was seen less and less by these youth who loved him so, and fed him salmon. Cans were left in the alley on the daily, and Duck’s water dish was always full but now hardly was his soul filled with conversation, the privilege of being in a moment with another. Duck’s claws, again: enticed.

Again, Duck spent his days alone. He’d travel minimally in fears of the world, as the world wasn’t the kindest to cats, but he did his best. He’d go as far as the sidewalk, never further, and sit there to watch the world go by, again reminded that never was time idle, laying in wait for him to do what was best for him, so he’d sit and sit and watch and watch, and sleep when he could and rise again to repeat, and repeat, and repeat the same day as the day before…

And then he began asking himself why he was, and what the point of it all was…

He pushed a claw to his throat, just hard enough to pierce the skin. It didn’t hurt, and that was strange—he figured it would. It was as though this was only a part of his claw’s destiny, begging to be drawn across his throat, laying in wait for years…

Could you blame him? It was the best he could do.

Duck was a cat. A tabby cat, orange in colour, and never could he be anything else nor would he ever be more…

But he still had some balls. Small ones, yes—no larger than raisins—but balls, and those were useful while living a life as trying as Duck’s; a life spent fighting rats and mice and the odd raccoon or skunk, but never more…

And then a voice came, “What’s up, cat?” This voice was a new voice.

A voice Duck had never heard before…

The man was of average height and weight. The man wasn’t thin, per say, but definitely couldn’t be considered chubby, like Khori or Dano. The man was an average man, a man split right down the middle with a slight paunch overhanging his blue jeans’ waistband…

It was the first time a human had addressed Duck in nearly three years…

And then Duck withdrew his claws.

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