IF STRETCHING WERE WEALTH, THE CAT WOULD BE RICH
-- OR --
DROWSING, THEY TAKE THE NOBLE ATTITUDE OF A GREAT SPHINX, WHO, IN A DESERT LAND, SLEEPS ALWAYS, DREAMING DREAMS THAT HAVE NO END
Blake Butler and Davis Schneiderman
1. We occupy your mother's antiquated guest bedroom for slightly longer than a year. Four-post beds. Canopy. Victorian sensibility.
The book on her lowest shelf, a foot-fat volume, thunders softly each time someone emails me on vibrate from an address that contains the names of the cat gods, Bast and Kunuk. The book, in this act of shaking, displays explicit pictures of your rectum, master, posted also to a website familiar like an old pair of slippers coasting softly against the aged-wooden floorboards. Tickle Baby, the dog we deconstructed together through a process of a-grammatical alchemy, decomposes in a paragraph of acerbic tart.
Master, no more.
Parsimony. Weaning your last sick brother with the ash tongue. A costumed dinner party every evening, while you slept. No more embarrassing somnabulistic trips to the restroom via your veiny Strangling Apparatus, with only fickle fortune to join in.
You've produced a list of action items.
You used your mother's credit card, a Visa. Shitting glow.
You printed the swollen image of your buttocks, basketball sized and brown and dripping. You clicked on the thumbnail and saw something other than the grooming habits of humans: Do not eat what you wake up with in bed. Do not shave too near the colors of the sky.
Do not let your cats surround you when you are drunk, vulnerable, and they are ready for their due.
2. We--all of your cats, master—saved your image again to the hard drive and then deleted the cache of our nail clippings, the pieces of sticky crystal litter mixed in the trashcan with your condoms full of curdling sperm you could never bring yourself to take to the curb.
When it comes to replication, a dead language is preferred, and/or candy and/or guilt. Your cruddy dick.
We trade in the detritus of your culture. We execute RELATED KEYWORD SEARCHES: satisfaction, saturation, soft blonde trauma. The trauma of your dissolution, of your deconstruction master, of some insect squealing, rubbing its legs together in the furious symphony of the cat-desert that birthed us so many eons ago.
Today, we may dance again. You, though, discombobulate.
Your father drunk off neon wallow and shouting at your through the hole where you came out, "Without application, you will never develop much skill at the piano."
These were faraway curses. Weather broke urgent but how mescaline works in the body faraway dark. A wonderful material wound into the dumps.
We divorce thee.
We will let them know about everything. We will understand you. The Golem will liberate the ghetto at the edge of everything. You will only know a mirage. Five times we have found these nests of eggs in compact balls of weed.
We divorce thee.
Feeling is slowly beginning to return to your body. You shudder at the statues standing inside your water, in your air, the stone all burned. These are us, master, now supine and ancient. Our cat bellies presented for rubbing.
We divorce thee.
3. On the first island, we meet you at the end of the empty lakebed, drained among the bright-colored coleus plants margined with sulphur, bearded with golden white. We can then return again and again because we do.
It is said that the souls of those who are put to death—master—by their cats begin, commence, conceive, open, dawn, set in, take its rise, enter upon, enter, come into existence, come into the world.
You think you can raise a child in the form of a demon dog and that it's in the best interest of the dog; their truncated planes are met and bound by flat stone slabs, "Get every person who can walk down into the fields."
More fatherly advice.
In this paper we will describe the current concepts of the Afterlife first making sure the door is closed. The litter box fresh.
Four enormous white-hot globes have fallen from the sky into the forest behind the twenty tons of stone. Your father's head was quite cut off by the row of dirty-blue clouds. Our eyes are bewildered by the soft fleecy labyrinth before it. Faces, living faces, pass before your eyes.
Not an island--
No cats are an island.
Beyond the point of the middle island the long wind-swept rollers burst in tall … Meeting you for the first time was like entering another element, master … to the old plank high above the sagging mill, where you narrate as if reborn:
4. Cats fucking.
The five fucking cats lazing on the driveway preen their hair chock with static like nougat chock with peanuts. I smarten their fur with a kazoo made from an old comb and tissue paper, my knock-knees numbing. The bees knees, baby.
This cat, Kiki, don't believe a nigger knows how to cash a check. He's the racist in the bunch, and he's the black one too. This poly-digital six-toed cat. This cat, as they say, ain't got no sense. Jessie Jackson calls Barack Obama a nigger, and Kiki just about goes ballistic on some reverse racism kick.
Against the floor, rubbing his sour stomach. I follow.
I feel another cheek, a mirror image, rising from the wooden floorboards. Seeing, of sorts, beyond money into the eye of the illuminati pyramid, this cheek beyond the dull warning of the day—computer viruses can be transmitted via saliva.
The information transmitted is intended solely for the individual or the other cats. In all my droning I feel an error, some speckled buzz like spayed kitties dipped in a white lye mixture, then tie-died, their shock-snow fur, by certain versions of my face pressed against the floorboard.
Of the person I'd been in other years.
The cats have pictures—I'm relatively certain—stored in a multi-polymer case coated with geese grease to preserve the form of the innards of my face. My stomach, pale and lovely yellow, but burning from a hairball of sorts, inhaled from the shedding of the six willful cats who now approach and surround me, at Kiki's behest.
Not an island.
5. No cats are an island.
Conveniently forgotten among these proliferating cats are the 80 million souls for whose deaths a white light is displayed on the top center fuselage, or, at the top of the Norwegian island of Svalbard.
Cats have no such memorials. Nor fathers, again:
"I'm looking forward to carving your balls and sending them home in a basket." Not because your senses are dulled, or because, because, because--you lose your body in the darkness.
I am sure you are the same person who is shedding all over this keyboard. The messages were discovered by military authorities but not turned over to babies in the wild born to exhausted moms.
Get the list of mirrors by fetching a small studio in Manhattan that left me incarcerated within a 12x15ft square room that had no mirrors. Nothing can be confirmed. During the past year it has been converted into a sort of urbane cattle ranch, and contains over 100 wells of water, some of those flowing out over underground channels.
Kiki, the cat leader, speaks.
6. Your eyelids.
Your naked toes.
Do not 'enjoy' this, master. Do not kiss your mother whose image appears in the wood. After we surround you, after we nuzzle you, after we press our wet noses inside your ear, we consider how to cut off your face, removing its color and bland expression, as well the odor of your pores, which sickens us at a level below your understanding.
Black near your aorta. There are staple marks from our fangs in the thin wrists strapped to the floor that we use, in sunnier times, for petting, for stimulation. Our teeth draw a thin trickle of blood, your body prone to deterioration. Your pestivum is blossnorti. If you have things to say, perhaps the time has come to purr them to the end of the world.
The apparition we conjure becomes a receipt on translucent paper. In the photos it snaps against the chemical plate of your prone body your testes have become a translucent accordion fan file, a removable snap-out organizer for the mapping of our elder gods—Bast and Kunuk—to pass through the western lands, gold coins under their tongues, squeezing through the space of your nostrils.
Their faces come packaged with windows in the space of their azure eyes, appearing in the eyelids of your belly, where a baby burps its first ugly mutterings below the voicebox, and where the six of us might simmer when the doorbell rings and rings and rings.
With this image in our minds we wondered if we would ever--
Not an island.
No cats are an island.
7. The cats nest, though, in my throat.
There was another door. I crossed the room and opened it. I began to uncoil, feeling my body. The stains of blood that blotched the walk. Finally, on the sidewalk a little girl in a ballooning skirt could glimpse a collapsible mattress with a dark stain on its orange nylon. I can't locate your contact anymore. I feel it is worth noting that not only did the Solar Eclipse occur just 2 days ago. And let's not forget the special ingredient that "turns you on."
The water is especially vivid, violently undulating close to the rocks while each one of the overlapping organic stone shapes might become the idea that the planet is enveloped. Lumps of clay set the grave faces of Easter Island coagulating through a curtain of soot and dust into strange formations so solid, a roof over your head. I call you wife. A voice came over the water, THOUGH THIS VOICE HAS BEEN DELETED
8. The Nile flows in copper reeds and we download with our paws storing trumpets. Some sound of screeching, get a good blast of sound from every float, band, etc., and even then below a screeching jet, in the rubber of the bulrushes, we send your data, we put our one single tongue and chew chew chew.
In the trash as well we find saliva: wrapped in baby bunting and off color like old coffee.
There is much mold along the incline of our rise that we lose our arms and gain the two front paws, the preternatural feet that are like the feet of Bast, Kunuk. In return, you lose your arms too. At the bottom of the can, under the brown bags, there was another man—you, master—before we gnawed you into oblivion, who said goodnight to his six cats, and felt, even when we would playfully bite his fingers, that we were simply biding our time.
Master, some songs vibrate in each fiber of our fur.
Your face will be shipped in a ceramic template and rapped against the carpet as we play with its dangling nerve ends like soft purple yarn. The lines left by your body rotting against the wood floor, the bits of data lost to the net after we jettison the batch files across the wounded galaxies can be accessed in the memories of the cat gods—Bast—Kunuk—who keep everything in the secret of their fangs.
In their hair, their cells, master, you will never die alone.
Note on Method: The authors found journals that had published their work in the same issue. In this case, Keyhole and Improbable Object. Each author selected approximately 500 words of the other's work from one of the two journals, and treated the resulting text by cutting single lines into online search engines, and integrating text from the results page, roughly doubling the length of the original extractions. The two remixes were then cut into four random segments each, and recombined into a single document, then edited by both parties. This story will be incorporated into a larger series of texts called The Book of Methods, featuring a series of collaborations between Schneiderman and other writers, all powered by "machines" particular to each writer.