by R. Sebastian Bennett
PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE AFTER THE TONE:
Hi, Sasha… It’s Murray. I need to ask you something. Did you mean it when you said I had a psychic connection with the cat?
When I was at your apartment last week, Miko kept staring at me, and you said he never did that to anyone before. His eyes were so wide open. I could see the gold color. Cats have that gold diamond light in their eyes.
You didn’t like my cat noises, but didn’t I sound like a real cat? Everyone says I do. To meow, you have to tense your throat hard and make a tight little sound—because cats only have little throats. It hurts humans to meow… and honestly I don’t think you showed enough appreciation for my cat noises. I mean, it wasn’t very nice of you to say I was immature.
I sensed that you might be worried about Miko. Are you worried?
I have to tell you something. When I left your place last Friday, he followed me out to my car. I didn’t call him or anything, he just followed me. When I opened the driver door, he jumped in. I said, “Miko, you’re not supposed to be in the car…” He just stared at me again. And then he lay down on the seat. So I took him home.
Maybe this sounds weird. But I knew it was right. He chose me. Miko wanted to be with me. It was his decision. So don’t freak out and call the police… Even if you did call the cops, they wouldn’t do anything because I didn’t steal Miko. He wanted to come with me.
I don’t think he misses you very much. Yesterday, when we were watching TV, Miko was licking my neck. We were watching that show about the guy who raises lions—the show you said was fake. It’s not fake. The guy just has a special relationship with the lions. That’s why he can lie down with them and they don’t hurt him.
Maybe I should have called you before because you might be worried about Miko, but I knew you had the software project to finish at work, and that’s why I didn’t bother you.
I’m a cat person. I don’t think you’re a cat person. But you’re not a dog person either. I don’t know what you are. Maybe you’re a computer person…
—Wait a minute, Miko just walked in. He smelled the sushi I ordered. Miko and I like sushi. You don’t like sushi. You like tofu. Did you know that ninety percent of soy products are genetically engineered? Miko and I don’t eat genetically engineered food.
I’m petting him right now. He’s super-relaxed. He wants me to pet his cheek. When I touched your cheek on the couch, you tensed up. That wasn’t very nice.
Okay—wait. I’m holding the phone near his head. “Miko, do you want to talk to Sasha?”
He doesn’t want to talk to you. He’s licking my arm. Cats’ tongues are so bristly. But they’re warm. Did Miko lick you a lot? Did he lick your neck?
Anyway… so call me I guess. I guess you can come over. If Miko wants to go back to you, you can take him back. We have to let Miko decide, right? I mean it’s only fair, right?
Listen—can you hear it? Miko’s purring very loudly while I’m petting him.
It’s a heartbeat motor. I can feel it.
R.Sebastian Bennett studied Creative Writing at Columbia (GS ’87). His writing has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and appeared in Connecticut Review, Fiction International, George Washington Review, Indiana Review, Mississippi Review, The Southwestern Review, Texas Review, and American Book Review, among others.
He taught Creative Writing at U.C.L.A. and the University of Louisiana, and directed the Creative Writing program at Muskingum University in Ohio. He was also the founding editor of The Southern Anthology. Presently, he teaches Writing at Broward College in Florida