BY LARRY BROWN
Copyright is held by the author.
My daughter and Cat The Cat pounce into the room. My daughter carries a newspaper and Cat The Cat wears a collar that jingles. Daughter and cat each strike a pose involving a crouch. My daughter, seeking more spotlight, then curtsies, a move Cat The Cat can’t possibly match, should it want to. From her back pocket my daughter pulls a pair of scissors.
Cat The Cat, she says, do your somersault.
Cat The Cat, with all the ambition of a cat, lounges on the floor, cat eyes coolly closed, cat collar silent. As for myself, I observe the scene from across the room. I remain neutral.
Cat The Cat, my daughter says, you’re in one of your moods.
My daughter sounds peevish, unforgiving. She snips the air with the scissors. Then opens the newspaper on the floor, acting as if what (I have now decided) she has decided is sensible and bland, a tofu kind of decision. Both Cat The Cat and the newspaper are within her reach.
Don’t, I say.
My daughter appears caught off-guard. Must be my springy, clear voice. Too often that instrument peeps and scrapes, a fossil really. But less than an hour ago Maggie — wife and mother in this house, and the owner of many fine silk scarves — fixed and freshened and fed yours truly, then arranged me, as only our Maggie can, on the stain-resistant rug and pillows by the heat vent. I am quite comfortable and relaxed, thank you, and in my own way, dapper. Earth tones agree with me.
My daughter swings the scissors towards the newspaper. Then says, All I am going to do is —
Don’t, I say.
It’s yesterday paper! she says.
This time I work up a growl.
My daughter, dramatically, collapses.
Do I actually have to tell her that you just don’t go ahead and gut a pet when one day the thing ignores a single request, newspaper or no newspaper spread open to trap the spill? Haven’t we taught her that much in this house? Is a somersault, refused or not, a true (as they say) deal breaker?
My daughter sulks on the floor, idly poking her hand with the scissors. She is fast becoming something I cannot locate a name for — camouflage a vital part of her new skill set.
Cat The Cat offers up its belly. It never expects to be rewarded with anything but a loving rub.