Me: “Tweak? Are you ready?”
Me: “I told you we had to leave this afternoon.”
Even louder silence. Nothing is as quiet as a disappeared cat.
Me: “We can do this the easy way…”
I raise this threat to an empty house. Really empty. Nothing left except cleaning rags, spider webs, and some furniture that my landlord stored in the basement two years ago, perhaps so he could move back here, which is exactly what was happening the day after tomorrow.
Me: “…or we can do this the hard way.”
Nothing left, that is, except for the Cage. The Cage is a Petco cardboard box with a folding handle that closes out the world, and closes in the rage. There is a blue towel swaddled at the bottom that has lain there for eight years. The Cage has been used six times. I have been injured seven. The towel is supposed to keep Tweak calm because it smells like her. What it actually does is turn her into a wolverine.
Me: “Fine.” I say to the air. “I’m sending The Boy to find you.”
I hand the Cage to The Boy.
Me: “Please wrangle the cat.”
Delegating shitty jobs to our children is why we had them.
The Boy brandishes the cage: “THIS IS SPARTA!”
That they make us laugh is why we keep them.
The Boy descends into Dante’s basement. I Swiffer out some cobwebs, listening.
The Boy returns empty-handed.
The Boy: “She is as far away as she could possibly be.”
Me: “Did she vote Republican?”
I follow him downstairs.
The Boy: “She’s under there.”
Me: “Under where?”
The Boy: “Worse. She’s naked.”
I peak beneath my landlord’s bed. Tweak is crouched in the far corner, legs folded, immovable. An angry meatloaf.
Me: “Come on, Tweak. This won’t be so bad. The ride is only two miles.”
Her eyes close even harder.
Me: “The new house has a basement, an upstairs, and two litter boxes.”
Me: “And a deck.”
The Boy: “Can’t you bribe her?”
Me: “She won’t eat people food and she’s immune to catnip. What do you suggest?”
The Boy: “Hookers and blow?”
Me: “Did she vote Democrat?”
I hand The Boy a broom and instruct him to move the bed.
The Boy: “Why am I always the bad guy?”
Me: “Believe me, I’m the worse guy.”
The Boy moves the bed and swooshes the cat. She dashes. I pin her to the floor, pick her up by the scruff of the neck, and wrestle her into the Cage. I am only bleeding in four places.
Tweak: “Suck. My. Cock.”
The Boy: “Obviously she voted Independent.”
The drive only takes five minutes. Tweak stops talking except for all the yelling.
I walk into the new house, put the Cage on the floor, and open the lid. Tweak escapes, tail twitching like a rattler’s warning.
Tweak: “You should probably never sleep again.”
Me: “Menopause is way ahead of you.”
She prowls the perimeter of the unfamiliar kitchen. She side-glides the leg of the familiar couch. She scowls at her food bowl.
Tweak: “Pour some nurdles in there and…. Hey, is that a deck? YOU NEVER TOLD ME THERE WAS A DECK!!”
Me: “Yes, I…! You’re right. I wanted it to be a surprise. Welcome home, Tweak.”
21 June 2015, “Tolerating Tweak”