Battle Royale

GarfieldI wake up in the mood for a leisurely Saturday morning. I boil the coffee, open my kindle and get into reclining mode. It’s just cool enough outside that lying under covers isn’t uncomfortable and my pajamas have become a fourth layer of skin I have termed the Comfortodermis.

I spend a blissful hour drifting between sleep and the grizzly tale of serial murder that I’m currently reading. It is times such as these that my lack of interest in spawning is solidified, as I am allowed the pleasures of sleeping, lounging, reading and writing. These joys are heightened by scratching, yawning and leaving the seat up after peeing.

My somnolent state is not fully recognized, however, as I do share my flat with another soul.

The B Monster (Běla the cat) senses my relaxed state and attempts to rouse me for either feeding or play time. She works at this task by repeatedly pouncing on my stomach. I mumble a thatch of sleepy curses at her each time, not in anger, just enough to let her know that I’m getting close to cutting off her wet food supply.

I toss her up in the air onto the bed and a hundred white hairs fly off her body and settle into cat form on my dark blue quilt. It’s reminiscent of an old Christmas tree shedding its needles after being pounded against the ground. My cat seems to have a stress-related case of alopecia.

Remembering that I have a guest coming in the evening, I finally lurch out of bed and ready myself for the grueling task of cleaning the flat.

As a cat owner without a dryer, my existence has become a ball of cat hair. But on cleaning day, I get out the vacuum and dress in battle fatigues (shorts and flip-flops). I also prepare a fortified meal of black coffee until my body (mainly the rectum) pleads for recess.

Běla feels about the vacuum the way I feel about neighbors who use drills at 7 a.m. She also seems to be highly protective of the fur she has placed all around the flat. While I’m cleaning, Běla makes her presence known in the living room by chirping at the vacuum cleaner in a strangely bird-like fashion.

She leaps to the arm-chair, her huge ears flat against her head like furry racing stripes. Though she is stationary, the sound of her claws extending and gripping into the fibers of the couch resonates through the living room.

I have seen this before from my furry flat mate. This means war.

War in this flat means something more than a momentary clash between a human and a feline. She hopes to exact a coups d’état, gain sovereignty and rewrite the bylaws of the flat in her favor. I want to avoid urine in my bed and prevent bloodshed (my own, in particular) at all costs.

I slip the extension off the vacuum and suction the hose against the couch, revving the engine of the machine. This drives the cat into wild, pinball-like ricochets between the couch, the two arm chairs and the coffee table. I watch, as always, impressed by her feline version of parkour. Again, her alopecia strikes and a thin trail of fur poofs off of her as though she’s running through a wind tunnel with a sack of feathers. Sweaty, irritated and in no mood for further combat, I see an opportune moment and take the advantage for the day.

The B Monster has trapped herself between the armchair and me. So, with one swift stabbing motion, I press the vacuum forward like an épée. The engine revs, the cat’s eyes go wild – I am vacuuming the cat’s butt.

Once, when I was twelve, I remember watching a special about Bigfoot. I always found the plantar-enhanced guy fascinating and watched everything I could on the subject. During this documentary a tape was played of what was thought to be Sasquatch’s mating call. The scream was almost unbearable, a creepy, pained wailing that rang through the foggy trees that the film-makers had put on the screen to set the mood. I dreamed about it for a week.

This is the only way that I can appropriately describe the sound that The B Monster made as I vacuumed her rear flank.

I let her go and she licked her rump, chirped at me twice and took off into the bedroom to, surely, coat my pillow in hair.

I have won the battle today. Later, in the spirits of bygones being bygones, I open a can of sardines and The B Monster comes out of her exile to explore the scent of these stinky little fish. She looks at me as I put the dish down in front of her. She chirps twice and I pat her head.

She chirps again, as if to say: olive branch accepted, but I’ll get you next time, you son of a bitch.

Your last battle?

  1. #1 by angela galeone on October 3, 2011 - 3:07 pm

    Damien–I really enjoyed this–a true cat lover’s delight

  2. #2 by Nate on October 4, 2011 - 9:22 pm

    Any time I run my vacuum, my poor cat Rufus (the younger, squirrellier one) is sent careening throughout the house in abject terror, not to be found for at least 2 hours. One of his favorite places to hide out while the roaring, whirring, monster trundles around the floors is beneath my kitchen cabinetry.

    There is a section of toe-kick, (the boards under the cabinets that cover up the gap between cabinet and floor) that is missing, and if he flattens himself out like a furry pancake, Rufus can wiggle his way *under* my kitchen sink cabinet. It’s about 4 inches of vertical height, but apprently it makes him feel safer from the black terror that is my rarely-seen vacuum.

    I think what is funniest thing to see is the look on people’s faces when they come over, and stand by my back door saying hello, and as we chat, a flattened, dusty, freaked out cat comes crawling, splayed out flat, from under my kitchen sink. Invariably he chirps ‘hello’ when he emerges.

    “Welcome,” he seems to say, “Watch out for the vacuum…”

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