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Fiction #352
(published October 18, 2007)
On the Occasion of Wet Cat
by Gavin S. Lambert
I'm supposed to be job-hunting right now, or at least working on resume, or at least doing something in the direction of obtaining a job.

We have very little money.

It is raining hard.

Marta is whining, as she so often is. She's standing on the—nope, she fell.

She stopped whining. I'm glad. I.

I've been writing a lot the last three months. I feel like I might be getting too tricky. In his essay about John Gardner and influence, Raymond Carver says that Gardner asked him if he thought it was a good idea to write a story about a crippled guy and not let the reader know he's crippled until the last page. Gardner, needless to say, didn't think so.

I did something like that.

I wrote a story about a guy who has a brain tumor, and I don't really let the reader know until close to the end. The reader knows something is wrong with him, but he doesn't know exactly what until close to the end. I wonder if Gardner would disapprove of it. I don't guess I really care that much.

The tv just said a tornado warning has just been issued for northern St Joe County.

That worries me a little.

That's very close to us. Marta is with me.

The cat, in the window (I can see her), looks perked up, like she's listening to the weather, for the tornado. You know how animals have heightened senses, or not heightened, but just better than human.

I'll listen for that train sound you always hear about. People say it sounds like a train coming.

No train yet.

The cat looks more relaxed. That makes me feel better. I think that that cat could save our lives. I'll keep a close eye on her, the cat. Try to read her reactions.

Marta is on my lap.

Now she's not.

Now she is, again. She seems worried, like the cat.

I'm going to write down everything just in case, and if I hear the train, I'll put this in a plastic bag and in our safe box, our disaster box, so if I die people will know what was happening, what I was thinking, in the last minutes or hours of my life.

Marta is whining, again. The cat is relaxed.


I was just mocking her, the baby, and she didn't like it.

The cat is clawing the window. She wants in. I'm not going to let her in. She'd crawl off somewhere I can't see her. Wouldn't be able to analyze her behavior. If I leave her outside, she'll stay in the window, and maybe, if there's time, I'll run out and get her before the tornado is upon us, if it comes.

The lights just flickered.

Asthma is the cat's name. She was around before me. When I met Kate, she had had her for a year. We're both still here, but only one of us has a job. A J-O-B. Her job, at this very moment, is to protect us, to let me know, to be our alarm. It's a lot of responsibility.

The lights flickered again. If I am killed by the tornado, I won't have to worry about finding a job. That would be a relief.

I've been rereading Notes. "On The Occasion Of Wet Snow" is one of the best things I've ever read. I wish I could read it in Russian. It is probably even better in Russian. I could learn Russian (Lights flickered), the Cyrillic alphabet. That would be something. To tell people you learned Russian just so you could read Dos the way he was meant to be read, in his native language. I'll never do that. I'm too lazy. I can't even find a job. How am I going to learn a new language?

Traffic, northbound.

More than usual.

That worries me.

Maybe Marta and I should get in my truck, my crappy truck, and drive into town, get off the island.

The cable just cut off. . .

No it didn't. Marta was playing with the remote and put it on a nonexistent channel. Scared me.

The cat has left the window. Marta is quiet.

The cat knows something. Marta knows something. I know nothing.

I haven't ever known anything.

Thunder. . . the lights flicker.

If it comes, we will go into the hallway, and close all the bedroom doors. I will put the couch at the end of the hallway. A barricade. We will sit on the floor, and I will hold Marta bundled up in a comforter.

We will look like a sculpture.

I just got back from looking and listening outside. I neither heard nor saw any tornadic activity. No train. No funnel of clouds.

It's been a while now, and I think we're going to be okay. No one I love will die today, not even the cat, especially not the cat. I, however, still have to find a job, and I think, as long as no severe weather prevents it, I will.

The cat is still at the window, wet, sleeping now.

I'm going to put Marta down, too.

Then I will let the cat in.

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