November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
My friend Meg was going to name the imaginary cat-mascot in her new cat/writer blog the name I came up with: Miss Pussy. Instead she chose Moon Pie, from the novel In Country, by Bobbie Ann Mason, when Bobbie Ann Mason suggested it. When your favorite writer offers a character from a favorite book, what can you do but sigh in delirious gratitude? So I’m stuck with Miss Pussy, who now has no home, but has slid a delicate gray paw into the world. Her claws are sharp and glitter in the lamp light. She is not pleased at being summoned into existence only to find herself unwanted.
“It’s not you,” I say. “It’s them.”
She tilts her head, regarding me from eyes that are closed but for a seam of fire. “Tell me. Am I a lady or a whore?”
“Where did you hear about such things, Miss Pussy? You’re barely born.”
She yawns, the pink ribs of her mouth so tempting—the white teeth so alarming. The yawn lasts a very long time. “The point of being an imaginary creature is that I am complete from the start.”
“You’re not complete. I have only a fleeting sense of you.” I can’t see her hindquarters or her tail.
“You haven’t decided whether I’m a girl’s school headmistress or a brothel madam catering to imaginary beings.”
“If you mean fictional characters, there’s no need. They fuck each other all the time.” And the writer, alone at her desk, compels each fornication. She can’t stop even if she wants to.
“You forget the minor characters. Everyone does. The nosy upstairs neighbor, the woman in the flower shop, the second cousin. They’re fully alive but without obstacle or climax. What would you do in that situation?”
As if she doesn’t know. “So you are a madam.”
“I am Miss Pussy. I provide feline services for deserving writers, in their heads.”
“In their dreams?’
“In their heads. I lick their brains.”
“That sounds unsanitary.”
“You haven’t seen my tongue.”
“It’s starlight and sandpaper, exactly the temperature of water when you’re trying to decide if the heat is running out or coming back.” Her whiskers twitch with satisfaction.
I don’t know why, but this exposes the weak place in me, where only paper keeps out the cold and the dark. “I think not, Miss Pussy. You sound like me when I’m trying too hard. Goodbye.”
It’s so easy to kill them. I make them; I kill them. Sometimes I only make them partially and leave them like that for years. It’s debilitating, knowing they’re all waiting, mute, without their final pieces, accusing: why don’t you love me anymore?
Come back, Miss Pussy. I didn’t mean to kill you.
But the one who comes through is not her. It’s the man whose wife put a voodoo doll of me in the freezer. Maybe if he hadn’t told me that—they say voodoo works by the power of suggestion. Or maybe if I knew what he did with it, if he deconsecrated it or just stuffed it the trash….
Someone picked it out of the bin, a street person. I can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man. He/she keeps it with him/her, telling it all the things nobody ever wants to hear. The doll is like a woman with advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease, that last moment when nothing can move but the brain hasn’t stopped yet. She’s been burned by the crack pipe. She’s been gnawed by rats. She’ll last a long time, unless she’s dropped under a subway train.
“Miss Pussy? Can you talk to the other imaginary ones? There’s a kind of shapeless doll-margaret-like thing…”
She sits on my chest. “Describe ME.”
Miss Pussy, lithe and smoke gray, has silky hair that never mats, and seven toes on each paw. She’s got the face of an Egyptian goddess: a narrow chin, slim black nose and whiskers as strong as piano wire. And her eyes—
Oh, Christ. Fitzroy’s got his teeth in the back of Mouchette’s neck again; he’s pinning her down. It’s all my fault, letting the demons out…I have to go….
He’s not in the apartment. Perhaps he’s left me for a woman shaped like a guitar, without a head. It would be no more than I deserve. But he said just yesterday that he’s happier than he’s ever been. What a peculiar world.
There he is, in the hall by the elevator, patting Lola who appears to be having an orgasm on the carpet.
Missy Pussy, we need a governess.
She’s disappeared, all but the whiskers. You run into those in the dark, you could cut your throat.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were–I have not seen
As others saw–I could not bring
My passions from a common spring–
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow–I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone–
And all I lov’d–I lov’d alone–
Then–in my childhood–in the dawn
Of a most stormy life–was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still–
From the torrent, or the fountain–
From the red cliff of the mountain–
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold–
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by–
From the thunder, and the storm–
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—
–Edgar Allen Poe