We get back from vacation and it’s pouring down rain. After giving you a couple of kitty treats I pick you up to pet you and find that you have a cut on your tail, a deep, wide cut, and when I look closer I see pus. We take you to the animal hospital and leave you overnight to get stitched up. James brings you home the next morning while I’m still asleep, then leaves for work. It's my day off so I get to sleep in. When I wake up I can hear you scrabbling around under the bed. I get down on the floor and drag you out and put you up on the bed with me where you look cute but miserable wearing the 'Elizabethan' collar they sent you home with to stop you from licking the wound. I sit there with you for a while, listening to the rain, and then the dog Frank comes in and jumps up on the bed too. High on opioids, desperate for Frank’s particular brand of love, you fling yourself at his face. Frank, always kind to you, licks your head and your neck and your ears, while you purr and rub against him in sluttish ecstasy. I watch, a voyeur of cute, and it’s nice to see but then I smell shit. Most days the dogs manage to bring shit in on their paws, no matter how careful we are to pick it up. I bend over and lift Franks paws to my face, one by one, until I find it. I get some on my nose in this way, and on my hands too. I get out of bed and clean his paws with a wet soapy rag and throw it on the floor for the laundry. I wash my face and my hands and get back into bed. I figure there’s shit all over the floors by now and on the blanket but I'll deal with it later. You rub up against me then and as you do I smell a different, worse shit smell. I lean in close, looking for it, it smells bad, and then I see it–– dried shit, caked all over your hind quarters, your asshole, your butt. I get another wet soapy rag and try to clean you. It’s hard work and not very effective. I go through a few rags trying and after a while I guess you smell a little less bad but at any rate I’m tired of trying and it’s tormenting you anyway, poor guy, so I give up. I put some towels down on the couch and put The Purrrrfect Video on for you to watch and take your mind off things. I set you down on the towels and plop down next to you to keep you company but you’re too excited by the movie and keep jumping off of the couch onto the coffee table to be closer to the TV, rubbing your now-wet-still-shit-covered butt all over the coffee table. I get up again and take the shit covered blankets off the bed and throw them on the floor for the laundry and go outside and find the shit Frank had stepped in and pick it up. Some gets on my hand. I leave the dogs outside, go back in and wash my hands, then get the broom and the mop and clean the floors and set you back down on the couch and spray down the coffee table. I go outside again to check for shit in case the dogs have gone while I’ve been cleaning. I wipe off their muddy paws as well as I can and smell them––they smell alright but I get mud on my nose and when I let the dogs in the floors get muddy, there’s mud everywhere now, but at least it isn't shit. I wash the mud off my face and hands which is dumb because I have to go do the laundry now and I know I'll get shit all over my hands again when I pick up the dirty, shit covered rags and blankets. I wash my hands after doing the laundry and then I wash the dishes and take a shower and make coffee.
Everything is coming along. The house is clean, not shit covered at least, and the dogs are cleaner and the coffee table and I don't have shit on my hands or face and you’ve settled down to sleep... maybe the shit will dry up and flake off on the towels while you do, I think hopefully. I get the dogs their kongs and fill them with peanut butter so they'll keep quiet for a while. It’s been a bad start to the day but everything is okay now, the coffee is hot and smells good and I carry it carefully over to the old easy chair so I can sit down and drink. But as I sit the chair breaks beneath me and I fall on the floor and the coffee does too, fuck I say to myself and get up off the floor. I look down at the mess–– the coffee cup isn't broken but the chair is, the legs have split off completely and flown across the room. I pick them up and the seat of the chair; it was a big, wide chair, sturdy enough I had thought but now it’s broken, and it was my butt, my weight, that has broken it too, and as I look at it I feel fat, fatter than I've felt since the time I got stuck in the satin dress at the vintage store and had to ask the salesman to unzip me. I put the pieces of the chair aside and get a soapy wet rag and clean up the coffee and throw the rag on the floor for the laundry. I look at the dogs, wiggling and wagging by the back door. It’s still raining but they’ve finished their kongs and want to go outside and play in the mud. Resigned, I let them. What does it matter anymore, I think, it's always mud, and shit, and no coffee. Fuck it, I say and sit down on a different chair. This one is more comfortable anyway, I say, a little defiantly, to myself. After a minute I get up and make some more coffee, then sit back down, carefully, and drink. It tastes pretty good. After a few sips I begin to feel better. Really, I think, who the fuck am I to complain? Emboldened by the coffee, the clean house and the sturdy chair beneath me, I grow philosophical. I think about you, my poor little shit covered invalid of a cat, going around, unnoticed, with that painful open wound while I've been on vacation. And here I’ve been, bitching about a little bit of shit! At least I didn't get my tail near sliced off and have to get surgery and wear a fucking Elizabethan collar. I think about it, then put down my coffee and get up and go over to you where you’re sleeping on the couch. I sit with you for a while and pet you and smell your butt, carefully, it still smells bad, and then I go and sit back down, carefully, at the table. The rain pounds down on the roof. I drink some more coffee. Frank barks, outside. Maybe, I think, this would be a good time to look at my writing. I’ve been on vacation, free and lazy, but now I’m back to my shit covered muddy life of spilled coffee and dirt and laundry, and it’s time to get to work.