It’s getting late. I’ve decided to head down to Hell’s Kitchen after all. Before I go, I lie on my back on my bed, thinking–thinking, not moping. My bedroom door pushes itself open and Vickers the cat slides into the room. He hops up onto the bed beside me, purring grimly.
“Well, here we go,” I say.
He’s going to climb up onto my chest and have a snooze. I will not be allowed to move for the duration of his nap. It’s the law. How many times have I been late for something because my cat was asleep on top of me? Probably as many times as I’ve been late because of a last-minute need to masturbate. The intensity of the urge is always proportional to the importance of the event; another unwritten law.
It takes Vickers two tries to make it. The first time his fat little butt slides off sideways, slowly and comically. He regroups and finally manages to haul himself up onto my torso. Sprawls out across me, wiggles himself into a comfortable position. Paws kneading into my side.
“I don’t want you to go to Hell,” says Vickers. I scratch his head and rev him into a deeper purr. “She has a boyfriend,” he says.
He’s reading my mind, so I’m reading his. “You know my mission,” I say. “I have to rescue this woman from monogamy.”
“You’re spending too many nights away,” Vickers complains. “Can’t you ever bring the ladies back here?”
“We live too far north,” I say.
Vickers puts his head on his paws. Our breathing has synchronized: a slow, steady rise and fall. His warmth spreads into my chest. As he closes his eyes, his purring mellows to a soft little cat-snore.
“I tell everyone about you,” I say. “Lots of ladies are dying to meet you.”
“That might have excited me, back in the day,” he says, “before they cut off my balls.”
Vickers is a big, furry black jellybean. Black and shiny. A lump of coal, spat up on the roadside on the way to Grand Lake, New Brunswick.
After a few minutes he opens his yellow eyes slightly. A pair of tiny robots emerge from the dark slits of his feline irises.
The robots march down the side of the bed, under the bedroom door, and away into the house somewhere.
Vickers says, “Is there any food in my dish?”
The robots report back on their little walkie-talkies: No, there isn’t. Vickers closes his eyes again.
“Sorry,” I say.
After a minute he gets up and stretches, climbs down off me. My eyes are closed, but I hear his paws on the hardwood bedroom floor and know what he’s doing.
Presently I hear a rustle of plastic. He’s fooling around with the garbage bag that contains my clean laundry. It’s pretty obvious that he’s climbing inside, nestling into my socks and underwear.
“So my underwear isn’t allowed to go to Hell either?” I say.
“Your underwear can stay right here,” says Vickers.
His voice, muffled and deepened from inside the bag, sounds like the voice of God. I sit up and look across the room.
Only his black tail is visible, sticking out of the garbage bag. I’m reminded that I almost named him King James, back when I found him. Unclaimed: he’d been abandoned at the vet’s office. Black kitten with a face like a little bat. Scrappy and smart.
I glance at the clock and a spark of lust ignites in my chest. My ribcage is a fireplace of broken-down brick. You can see the lake from the campsite; night is falling. Move in close as the flames crackle. Wide bands of purple are stripped from the horizon one by one. The smoke makes my eyes water.
“Don’t go to Hell,” says Vickers the god, Vickers the jealous god.