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Tuesday 23 October 2012

Kyle Hemmings

Cat People #12: Tell-Tale Nights in the Heart of the City

At the club, we’re knee deep in dusk, pockets of post-despair. The D.J. is spinning a remix of Cash’s Ring of Fire. But I and my cat brother, with his genius love of green, have already fallen in. We have codenames: He’s Puma Boy; I’m Lucky Cat. Later, we’ll rip off the straights, air brush tiger insignias on their leather jackets, now ours. Nothing is really ours unless it’s under the skin, like connective tissue, like memories of disco strangers in my bed, my false confessions to them. Was it quick-spit love? All friendly fang and chipped tooth? I use to flatten their tires so they'd remember me. Later, Puma and I will have sex in Soho’s back alleys. The pigeons will drop us condoms. We’ll blush before strangers. The city is a tea cup that leaks us. I need some coffee. Deep, dark, Columbian. On the subway, girls without claws, ones with hollow eyes, stare out of windows. I study the curl and length of their fingernails. Not enough city love, too short, too pale. I need to paint them a green that glows in the dark. Long enough to scratch against the night.

Cat People #13: Noir

I wake up screaming. I can’t remember the exact content, only the gross shadows and the girl falling from the wharf. She was young with a voice that could charm dolphins, kingpins. Was that girl me? I’m bleeding. I always cut myself when I dream. It’s my way of telling myself: Hey, wake up! You’re nowhere in sight. My white Persian with the blue eyes no longer answers to her French name: Jolie fille. The psychiatrist who speaks in shades of monotone, whose eyes scare me like ravens, says It’s all the result of stress. Stop working so many hours he says. But I tell him: There’s a war. There’s a war going on. I suspect that in secret rooms with fly-a-way women, he’s a fascist with heavy necrophilliac eyes. The phone rings. It’s the same man I met yesterday at Frankie’s diner. He said his name was Dana Andrews. He handed me his card. He said tailing people was his specialty and asked whether anyone was giving me a hard time. I watched Frankie sling some hash, yell out to 86 the ham steaks. Now I remember. Dana Andrews was the man in my dream. He pushed me in. I believe he did. Then he swam after me. On the moonlit dock, I was shivering. He held me, kept calling me by my childhood nickname: Bleau. His eyes looked through me. Hooked through me. He had the eyes of my cat.

Cat People #12: Burlesque Cat

I finally did it. Took Mr. Tibbs to the vet and had him put to sleep. It was getting to the point of no return, him, not able to hold anything down, walking in circles at the foot of bed, the constant whine at night, his gutteral directives to get up off my ass. Mr. Tibbs and I were together for some 16 years. On stage, we made a great act. Mr. Tibbs was a schizophrenic cat, a Siamese with deep blue acid eyes, a fawn-colored coat. He'd love to churn out kit-cryptic neologisms. During our stage act, the audience must have thought I was the puppet and Mr. Tibbs was a little man inside a cat. For his burial in my backyard, I dressed in the stage attire of my  comedian persona: bowler hat, neck tie, pinstripe suit and spats. I spent the rest of the afternoon sweeping Mr. Tibbs from under the carpets, the sheets, his hairs clinging to my clothes, the way I once clung to him, as if by static electricity and some invisible threads. 

Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poetry and prose: Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications), and Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction (NAP). His latest e-books are You Never Die in Wholes from Good Story Press and The Truth about Onions from Good Samaritan. He lives and writes in New Jersey.

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