I step out into the sun and there is decay. It attaches itself to our skin. There is decay when we sleep, in our dreams. There is decay when we eat. And when we talk, and our words slip past each other, decay.
I can’t escape the feeling that something is missing. What happened to my novel? What happened to my parents? What happened to my hands? They’re scratched and I don’t know from what.
What happened to me?
Or there’s the sense I should be doing something else. I should be writing. I should be doing the dishes. I should be doing thirty pull-ups. I should be making love. I should be apologizing.
Instead, I’m running, but getting nowhere.
This insatiable, indefatigable thirst overtakes me. I pivot and head to 7-11. I run into the Buddha and he catches me buying a bottle of shit wine. I tell him a lie, say it’s for a birthday party I’m going to and not for me, definitely not for me. He smiles the most gentle smile, aware of whom I am really deceiving.
My mind is a werewolf, a half-time beast, waiting for a full moon, but also a scarecrow, made of straw, waiting to burn. And sometimes my mind is a waterwheel, constantly turning, but going nowhere, just being pushed by an ever-constant flow. And other times my mind is a player piano, just going by itself in the corner of some cobweb bar.
I bring the bottle back to the apartment, but when I open it I see that damn smile, the creasing of lips and the soft eyes, and the understanding-all expression of the Buddha. I can’t do it anymore. I take the bottle and empty it into the sink. It fills up all blood-red. It looks like I’m washing out a murder rag. I take the empty out to the trash. There is a stray kitten mewling at me. His eyes lit in the dark. The moon is a saucepan in an indifferent sky. I take the kitten inside, consider giving it a name. We both sit on the couch, contemplating each other.
My heart is a stone on the bottom of the sea, but also a rose blooming on the vine. My heart is an accordion being pulled open, then shut, open then shut. My heart is just an organ, no different from an intestine or a gallbladder. Yet, it’s everything.
I decide to name him Monkee. He sits in my lap purring. I can hear it and I can feel it, a sweetness you can’t duplicate. I promise to practice love and compassion and to take care of him. Buddha appears and tells me that’s just step one. I say I know. He tells me to open up and to stay open; like, fearlessly and also brutally and even if it hurts. I say I know. I tell him my father died. His eyes say he knows, and also… it’s okay.
He then tells me to stop running.
I say I’ll try.
Monkee wakes up and gets angry, his back arches and his hair spikes. He doesn’t recognize the bald head or the brown robes. He hisses meanly at the Buddha. Fear and anger are derived from the same place; for kittens as much as for us. Buddha walks over to him and lays his hand on his head, strokes his neck. Monkee closes his eyes and rolls over in ecstasy. Buddha laughs. I laugh.
Right now there is nothing missing, and it feels so goddamn strange.