The House on Silver Avenue
I am going to need another tug off that bottle of Thunderbird if I am going to go down there and rescue one of those kittens said Charlie to the spare but shabby living room of the house on Silver Avenue.
Chauncy was in the room under the stairs which contained a sink, a shower and crapper. He did not hear Charlie talking nonsense about the cats because he was getting ready for his evening shift at the steakhouse. Chauncy was frantically trying to coax chicken fat stains out of his black trousers with a toothbrush and a bottle of Florida Water.
The others were in the first-floor bedroom, across from all of that. They couldn't hear Charlie either. Michael was smoking dirt weed out of a pipe he had carved from an apple, reclining like royalty on the bed while his stunned girlfriend Sherri sat in the corner picking glitter out of her hair and counting Jeffersons. They moved in last week and Charlie knew them about as well as any of the other punk rockers from across the street.
Charlie looked around and realized he was speaking to empty space, chatting with the void. He got up and dragged himself to the kitchen. Tim Lodgeson was in there cooking a chicken in the microwave. He had the whole thing in the oven for ten minutes while the two of them sat around jawing about school. Charlie couldn't make heads or tails of what Lodgeson told him. It was something about forests and capitalism.
When the meat came out it was gray. It had the appearance of plastic. Tim took the bird and skewered it with a big silver serving fork he had taken from the cafeteria last semester, around Thanksgiving. He started gnawing on the chicken as if he had not eaten for a week, like he had conquered a small but vicious dinosaur with teeth and technology.
Charlie excused himself politely, gagged and walked out onto the back porch. He could hear the kittens in the basement mewling for their mother. The hell with the Thunderbird, he thought, I sure would like a new pet cat. Further reasoning that such an outcome would be a pleasant surprise for his girlfriend, he sauntered down the stairs and into the darkness.
He felt his way around for a bit until he could reach out and pull on the chain that turned on the light bulb in the middle of basement. Sure enough, there was a litter of cats in the basement. Their mother was nowhere to be seen. Charlie crept over to snatch up a tiny calico.
An eruption of teeth and fur and hair and blood coincided with that action as the hidden mother pounced. The living fury would not come off him, though he clawed and clawed at it. He retreated and was filled up with a queasy combination of shame and horror. The damn thing finally let up when he got to the door, lunging for the knob and hitting his head on the concrete as he fell toward the yard.
Back inside of the house on Silver Avenue, Michael and Sherri had crept out their room and were watching Hee Haw in the big front room. Chauncy was in the kitchen critiquing Tim's culinary procedures as he attempted to saw a leg off of what was left of the poultry experiment. Chauncy was dressed for work now. He looked like a million bucks and was being awfully careful not to get any schmaltz on his waiter's uniform as he danced around Tim's meaty methodologies.
As the two went on and on about the wonders of microwave cooking and with the mellow sounds of George Jones drifting through the whole place, Charlie entered from the porch. He asked for a wet towel and wondered aloud where his bottle of wine might have gotten to. Saturday night had just begun.
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