Lupe J Solis, Jr.

Tio Manuel’s cat is like Sir Isaac Newton.  He wears a ruffle around his neck like the prissy cat he is and struts around, back arched, on the tips of his paws.  As if to explain why my tio has done himself in. 

            If my soul could suffer the darkness, I would kick this cat.  Punt him to hell and back--show him what gravity is all about. 

            The noose that sways gently above him, as if there is a breeze in this windless basement, doesn’t soften the dankness of the room.  Nor does it bring any sense of clarity to the fact there is a hangman’s noose hanging in the middle of Tio’s basement, with Tio in it.  What can be found in swinging ropes?  With dead swollen bodies swaying?  The ladder back in the shadows is the stairway to heaven—the sweet bye and bye.

            The lichen growing in the dark corners glows in the shallow light from the lone light bulb, cobbled to a rafter beam.  The cement floor looks damp and folds in on itself through the cracks; a spider is poised over a crack and this is a darkness I can suffer—I point it out to the cat.  Who, then, scampers over and swats the arachnid a couple times, half-heartedly even for a priss, and then devours it in a single lick. 

            I burp for the cat. 

            The smell of the basement isn’t quite what I would call death, but I can imagine the neck being broken in the noose; the body rigid on the step ladder, trembling in some sort of anticipation.  The light seems bright, the head cold, but the neck must be toasty warm, if not snug, in its sleeve.  The smell is of possibilities and transitions.  The cat is searching among the cracks for more delectable tidbits—such an easy life that cat has; “has” being the key here because now the fate of the tabby is in my uncertain hands.  Do I keep him or send him along with the noose’s owner.  The state of mind I am in doesn’t leave much room for Sir Isaac priss cat.     

            I think I could forgive the ruffles around his neck, if Mr. Cat can give me an explanation, a reason why I am standing looking at a rope swaying in a dank basement on a Sunday morning; a reason why I shouldn’t let the darkness take him and me:

Me: Mr. Cat, Que Paso?

Mr. Cat: Well, Seńor, it goes like this—see rope?  No more food in kitty dish.  Muy        Simple.

Me:  You got to do better than that, Don Gato.  Your fate rests upon clarity.

Mr. Cat:  Ah, it is a sad story, no?  This relative of yours—one, I shall not name--didn’t understand the tenants of gravity or the byways of the heart; didn’t understand the logic of kitty litter—it must be changed or it begins to stink, que no? 

Me:  What do you offer? 

Mr. Cat: Seńor, I shall serve you to the best of my indifference.  I swear I will not piss on your shoes, or bring your curtains to tatters.  I shall be subversively loyal, and selfishly trite. 

Me: Such a Shitty kitty.

Mr. Cat:  Consider: I shall be there dancing upon my paws, swaying along your plight with gravity—when your time comes to grasp the reason to determine the whole of your existence.  And seńor, I swear upon my own likeness, I shall honor your hopeless stupidity until a better gig comes along.

            The cat, which from this moment on, will be known as Sir Isaac Newton, makes an insufferable argument.  And I realize as I picked him up to leave forever this dank basement, I could stand, maybe someday in the future, to suffer a little darkness.