I don’t know that Uncle Bill intentionally gave me something to be responsible for—he abhorred responsibility—but fate has a sense of humor. His refrigerator started vibrating and cooling at night, so that I couldn’t sleep. Being a bachelor—I didn’t have much food to keep cool, so Bill’s refrigerator went unused for a couple of days. I decided to stop eating pizza and Thai food, and went on a health kick to lose weight. I bought two dead chickens and some salad in the bag. I put them in the refrigerator and didn’t think much of it. Then I started watching a movie about a laid-back guy who married a Type A woman who turned out to be a psychopath. She framed him for her murder, vanished, and ate a bunch of burgers to get fat so that nobody would recognize her. I wondered if all women had a crazy string of cards in their well-ordered deck.

I was getting used to the noise coming from my kitchen in my studio apartment, but then I heard something else—scratching. Something was alive in my refrigerator. The thought of refrigerated mice, made my blood run cold. I gingerly opened the door, and two chickens flew out. They started pooping on my apartment floor—I stepped in it. I let them out, and they roamed downtown Maple Valley, until one got hit by a car, and the other got eaten by a dog.

I had to think about what just happened, but no amount of thinking made it make sense. The crazy chick in the movie was killing the beta male who worshiped her with a chain-saw. What was I going to do about my refrigerator?

I started cleaning my apartment. I do my best thinking when I’m cleaning. Then I carried my big trash-bags out to the dumpster. They were full of pizza boxes and Thai food containers. The upstairs neighbor-lady was moaning next to the recycle bin.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Romeo died, and I don’t have any place to bury him. I asked our apartment manager if I could use the flowerbed, but she only suggested I throw him in the trash. I just can’t bear to give him up like garbage. He was the prince who loved me for 10 years. I adopted him— you know. I saved him. Now, nothing will save him.”

I looked at her alcoholic eyes. Did it come to this—expediency and no love?

“I’ll see what I can do. My parents have a garden. I can bury him for you.”

“Would you?” Her face lit-up.

“Sure.”

“Here.” She handed me a shoebox that looked like a coffin. Romeo had become so skinny, he looked like a squirrel. I guess she really needed him. A sane person would’ve put him down a year ago, but love is insane.

I wasn’t thinking—I was only feeling her pain. Then I realized my refrigerator might bring her cat back to life. It would be the reversal of Shakespearian tragedy. So, I popped the shoebox in, and waited…

I started to hear meowing, and claws scratching the cardboard coffin to get out. When I opened the refrigerator and lifted the lid, I got attacked. It went for my eyes, but only sliced-open my arms in front of my face. I ran for the door and let it out, and it went upstairs, meowing, but nobody opened the door. I knew she was up there—so why wasn’t she letting her cat in? I climbed the steps and knocked on her door. No answer. I tried her doorknob. It opened. I immediately smelled alcohol and cigarettes. There was Juliet lying on her bed with crusted vomit on her lips, and a bottle of sleeping pills scattered on the floor.

“Lady, are you okay? Hey!”

I called 911, while the cat licked the vomit off her face. When the police got there, they questioned me. I left-off the part of bringing her cat back to life.

“We’ll call the coroner. Will you sign for the body? She doesn’t have any next of kin, or at least none that we know of in our computer. We’ll have to exterminate her cat.”

I agreed to wait, until the coroner got there, and the longer I waited, the more I started to think…

I could bring my neighbor-lady back to life. She wasn’t that heavy, compared to the modern American woman. So, I lifted her body and walked it down the stairs, praying that I wouldn’t bump-into any of my neighbors. I put her on my bed, and pulled the drawers out of the refrigerator. Her brown dress had inched up around her thighs, revealing kitty undergarments. If you grow old and alone, there is no limit to trying to be young and in good company. I squeezed her into my refrigerator and shut the door. I felt like Jeffrey Dahmer. I had to constantly remind myself that I didn’t kill her, and I was actually trying to bring her back to life, but that’s probably what Jeffrey Dahmer said.

To be continued…

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