Sometimes a Pet
And so I dreamt—not for the first time, nor the second, nor for the third nor the fourth nor the fifth, but for the sixth (and for what I hope is the final time)—about the cat who used to make his bed in the alcove above the lean cot that, while overseas, while serving in the army, I was assigned to (banished to, I should say instead: exiled to that far-flung outpost and forgotten), and who, having once had the alcove entirely to himself, and being resentful of my presence, yet still intrigued, descended routinely each night after my having settled in to prowl around my person, his rude whiskers ticklish against my cheeks, his whole sleek gray body abuzz like a ringing cell phone while I shushed it away, and who then would, chagrined, slink off for a little while, but who always returned in the moments before I drifted off, to climb up on me and knead my chest or thigh or my armpit with his front paws, still purring, his tiny claws snagging in the disheveled oversized sweatsuit I wore as pajamas; and I wouldn’t have minded, except for that the cat’s kneading disheveled my dreams, innervating them such that, instead of recalling delightful youthful pastimes—the picnics my family and I took in state parks on endlessly humid afternoons, or how as a teen I could sit still for hours in the backyard beneath the apple tree, doing nothing more than watch the shadows shrink and lengthen over the course of the day (all the while imagining how I would later describe them to you)—I dreamt instead about cats, a fantastic parade, a near-infinite pageant, descending repeatedly out of the alcove that yawned above me, thousands upon thousands of them, hundreds of thousands perhaps, every cat who had ever lived or been imagined, from Bast to Ra to the Bakanga (courtly and noble), from Bouhaki to El Broosha to the Bung Bung (enigmatic), from Cait Sith to Chat D’argent (both playful) to Irusan (aggressively nipping), from Hodge (intense) to Graymalkin (murderous) to the Cheshire Cat (oddly dour), from Bustopher Jones to Jellylorum to Grizabella (thankfully silent), to Old Deuteronomy himself, from Gareth (time-addled) to Moortje (dejected) to Felix (depraved) to the Cat in the Hat (long-limbed and distracted), to Pinkle Purr, from Krazy Kat to limp-wristed Faron, from Garfield to Heathcliff, to Bill the Cat (obscenely lolling), from Azraël (all scowls) to Fat Cat to Fritz to the rotund Catbert (who waddled in), to Hello Kitty (inspecting my hygiene), to Meowth (who loudly complained), from Julie Newmar to Lee Meriweather to Eartha Kitt (who winked and sashayed toward me but then left), from Michelle Pfeiffer to Halle Berry, from Patripatan to Puss-in-Boots, to Snarf (who’d scoff) to Spot to Tabitha Twitchit, then Morris, then Morris II, then Harry, then Socks (all four of them dead and gone now, yes, I know) (and, yes, Old Rasputin was there in the lineage, too, your darling tabby who died of an unknown illness twenty years ago, when we were teens—she, too, had her place in the grand procession, and I like to think that by kneading me she was asking about you)—all of them, all of these cats, in a queue that kept quietly, calmly descending, each one padding in to stand upon my sleeping, dreaming self, and knead me urgently for its particular moment, and then depart, to turn their tails and disappear, headed off for wherever it is that cats go, satisfied with having left their little marks, and having disturbed me, now free to depart, having made their inscrutable judgments of me.
A.D. Jameson is a writer, video artist, and performer. His fiction has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Fiction International, the Mississippi Review Online, elimae, and elsewhere. His first collection, Amazing Adult Fantasy, is forthcoming from Mutable Sound in 2010.