Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Me. Ow. - John Rosenbaum

Dear Reader, this is John's 3rd (and 4th) submission to the Fire Bowl.  What follows are two pieces that I have posted together for your thoughtful perusal.  Please note that the Fire Bowl is a creative writing community that explores variations on a theme.  The current theme is stories about bad times that turn out for our good.  John's two short submissions here contain some...ahem...honest language and for that reason, we are warning you ahead of time.  Thanks, John, for these posts...rated PG-13.



God, I’m disgusting.  Look at me, practically wallowing in my own filth.  Not that I would have to, but that jackass hasn’t cleaned out my box in days.  It’s like he even enjoys my filth, despite all the ruckus and insults he throws my way about the stench.  Always demanding perfection, cleanliness, even “shit that doesn’t stink.”  Guess what, dude!  I’m an animal!

Man, I’ve gotten so fat.  This comfortable life is my own gallows.  I can leap small buildings in a couple bounds, and I can do it with perfect balance and grace.  If I wanted.  Oh sure, I will cry and wail wanting to go outside, stare out the window for hours, and try to weasel my way out the door given the opportunity, but you know what I do once I get out there?  Immediately regret it.  These four walls have made me soft.  With all my fur and the pudge around the middle that I pass off as fur you would think I’d be able to stand even an afternoon in the cold, but no.  The life given me by this jerk has even ruined me of my own nature.

Damned if you do!  Sure as hell damned if you don’t!  What a lot is this?

Somehow I picked up this A-load of fleas, these parasites crawling around my portly body like anxieties that won’t shake.  Fleeting little buggers!  Every time I think I got a hold on one (and there’s plenty to choose from) the little bastard slips through my teeth, vanishes like a whisper, and I’m left chewing on my own flesh.  Not that that is a deterrent from trying and trying again.  It’s like eating away at my own flesh, creating my own open sores which are infinitely worse than the pricks caused by my tormentors, is somehow control.  I am not accomplishing anything save gnawing off parts of who I am, but it’s the only thing I can seem to do.  Not that the tyrant would have to expend any energy on my behalf—a couple drops of medicine once-a-fracking-month and I would be free from torture, freed from my own destructive behavior, the sin of self-mutilation under the thinly-veiled guise of comfort.  It’s in that jackass’s power, but what do I get?  A few sympathetic comments thrown my way and hands that prod my self-inflicted wounds.  Agitation, not restoration.  Wow.  Thanks for caring.  I’m treated worse than a pet, but you will parade your progressive self flouting the term “animal companion.”

With all this ranting I think I’ve worked up an appetite.  Or not, but I’ll eat anyway.  And commence with the routine: I jump up on your precious countertop and cross the proverbial line.  You spray me in the face with that squirt bottle of yours and after a couple of rounds of that I’ll get what I want.

God, you’re worse than the Dursleys.

Meow and Forever

Oh, you little cat!  Why do you keep jumping up there, forcing me to spray you?  How I wish I could explain to you that your last owners did you a disservice by leaving out a bag of dry food for you to just munch on as you saw fit.  Not only is dry food bad for you, but you shouldn’t graze; you need set meal times.  We got to get that extra pudge off of you!

Speaking of pudge, I got a string here that I can wave in front of your face if you’d like.  Man, I could do that for hours, you’re so cute.  You don’t seem to want to go outside, even though I’ve done what all the cat experts have advised—I’ve helped you chase off those other cats so we can establish your territory.  So until you learn to trust my perimeter we got to get you exercise some how.  Remember: I got yo back, cat!  Now chase the string!

Come here!  I know you don’t like when I comb through your fur picking off fleas one by one, but what choice do I have?  It breaks my heart to see you chewing yourself to bits, but I can’t afford flea medicine until I work off that vet bill; I’m still not sure what was causing you to throw up all the time, but I’m sure glad your tummy has been doing better.

Ow!  I’m not sure if you know this, but your front paws are wrapped around my wrist and your hind legs are ripping my forearm to shreds and your little, razors-for-teeth are sinking deeper and deeper into my tender, nerve-ridden hand.  Oh, man.  You’re bringing me to tears!  I’m going to wait it out, though.  Whew, I want to smack you so you get off!, but that isn’t going to help you; your little instincts will interpret that struggle as a challenge, but I want you to know you are safe and loved and don’t need to protect yourself from me.

Now please remove your claws because I got to clean out your box.  Your shit stinks.


  1. When you want that John, there's that John. And apparently, the protagonist watches Battlestar Galactica!

  2. i thought this was fitting for both the 'bad times turned good' as well as the 'spirit of the season' topics.

    the first piece was written in a time (as opposed to 'moment') of frustration and--i'll just say it--despair. i knew it wasn't about the feelings, that God's sovereignty wasn't taking a break, but i couldn't get past that feeling without first speaking it out (and being in community with good friends). which brings us to the second piece.

    the celebration of Christ's birth was set on the darkest day of the year, because it only gets brighter after that. don't be fooled into thinking the next day is the longest of the year, however. it's just working towards it, just as i still got fleas, i still got shit, i still got issues to deal with. i'm a work in progress, but i'm getting better, day by day.

    and chris, you failed to mention the two other nerdy references...

  3. The Dursleys!

    Thanks John! I liked it; it was really interesting. You write well, of course! Peace, bro.

  4. thanks, man. i hope you're doing well up slightly-more-north-than-us. by the way, we see ian and kate fawley pretty regularly. they said if i talk to you to tell you 'hi' for them, but screw that.