m i c h a e l    k    m e y e r s

Painting The Cat


My half-sister, Evelyn, using her good hand, the other bandaged, informs me of her desire to paint the cat, who after a trip to the vet is doped up and also bandaged, both Evelyn and the cat’s injuries inflicted by my Jack Russell, partially painted and on the porch hiding under the wicker couch. Somewhere in the house Evelyn’s mother, my stepmother, sleeps. The majority of the day she does that—eyeballs jumping around, snoring, bare feet twitching.

With the cat’s hindquarters purple, Evelyn’s head droops, the paintbrush falls to the floor, and she goes inside herself somewhere, victim I think of the inner darkness she inherited from her mother. When her breathing steadies I ask if she wants to return to what we were discussing before she got the idea to paint the cat. She nods, though I doubt she remembers. “We were discussing the zebra,” I tell her, “the one that bit you the one that is now on the porch hiding under the wicker couch.” She nods. “While you where zoned out I looked it up, and although gaily striped the book says zebras resist affection.”

“They sure do,” Evelyn says weakly.

At the time I was working on a bonding-type phrase, something that at difficult moments half-siblings can say to each other and no one else will get it. At the time the one I liked best was, “Life outside the reservation makes all of us jumpy.” I tell her. She hates it, gets up and heads for a pot of paint I think to throw it at me. From my father I’ve inherited super powers: In moments of physical or emotional danger I dematerialize, and with Evelyn—paint pot in hand, arm cocked and rocking forward I vanish, rematerializing on the porch. With one zebra strip on his muzzle, the Jack Russell, ears flat, flashes me a dog’s version of a smile. “Stuff happens,” I explain before rematerializing in the living room where Evelyn, eyes shut, head drooped, stands motionless beside the couch where her mother sleeps. The bristles of her paintbrush and one of her mother’s big toes are red.

For the foreseeable that is that.



MICHAEL K MEYERS - Fiction appears in Quick Fiction, SmokeLong, Work Riot, Alice Blue, Eclectica, NANO, Spork, Bound Off, 2River, The 2nd Hand Journal, Chicago Noir, Chelsea, Fiction, The New Yorker, Requited Journal and (forthcoming) three in Word Riot’s 10th Anniversary Anthology & one in Bound Off. Audio works can he heard in Fringe, 2River, Mad Hatter’s Review, Drunken Boat, Fringe declassified and forthcoming in sound/text, Mad Hatter’s Review and Bound Off. Videos can be viewed on Ninth Letter and at michaelkmeyers.com. He teaches in the graduate writing program at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

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