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I awoke easily this morning, from that frog dream again. I had a bed pillow all to myself. My chest was unburdened of the13-pound weight pressing down on it, in four sharp points, to which I had grown accustomed. My chin, cheeks, and forehead skin were intact, and puncture-free. The bedroom smelled of detergent and a bit of sweat, without a trace of spoiled alosa pseudoharengus. I added up all of these miniature luxuries and suddenly began to panic. “Fuck!” I thought, whipping the sheets aside. “Where’s Coleman

So it began that the first verbal contact I had with the world today was a series of "kissy" noises, as I patrolled my apartment, wondering where a thick cat with a noisy respiratory system could possibly hide in these 450 square feet of minimalist squalor. Coleman wasn't beneath my bed – not surprising, as there has been no possible room for her here since I converted that prime area of real estate into a storage facility – but I found some interesting items in her place. For example, I had completely forgotten that I am in possession of a lobby poster for the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember. The poster is still in its shipping tube. I'd ordered it months before the release of the film, after hearing a rumor that New Line was being sued by another film studio, for infringement on the name "Goldfinger." If the lawsuit dragged, there was a very good chance the title of the film would need to change before its premiere. I decided to order the lobby poster that instance, expecting its value to increase exponentially upon the film's (newly titled) release. It was one of those "ah-ha!" moments that are typically the province of sad sacks whose idea of financial investment is rooted firmly in the search results of eBay, or etched into the surface of Burger King collectible drinking glasses. I was surprised with myself for even acting upon the impulse – and, like those other eBay investors, I doubted whether I'd even have the energy or strategy to sell the poster once its value was reassessed, and expected it to languish in its shipping tube until my next stoop sale – but I figured it would make an interesting story one day. Upon reading this story back, I realize I was wrong about that, too.

I also found a Starburst fruit chew, in its original wax wrapping. Strawberry – not my favorite flavor – but it was still tasty. It's nice to start the morning right, with some fresh fruit (flavoring chemicals). I did not, however, find a cat.

After checking the cupboards, the insides of my closets and, for a few minutes, today's "Sticky Movies" on Sublime Directory, it occurred to me that Coleman might have been locked out of my apartment last night. This happened once with Ble, when she was much smaller. I hadn't seen her slip past and, as a result, accidentally locked the door behind her. I only discovered my mistake the following morning and, when I opened the door, she was right outside and belly-crawled into the apartment, devastated. She must still bear the emotional scars of the incident because now, whenever I open my door to greet a delivery person or UPS carrier, Ble lingers in the doorway but refuses to cross its threshold. And, if you examine her closely, you can see a single tear bubbling in the corner of each eye. (Ble also goes nowhere near the rear of my refrigerator anymore. This used to be her favorite place to annoy and frighten me. However, the last time she was rescued from behind the refrigerator, she left a toe behind. Since then, that location has lost some of its appeal for my nine-toed cat.)

My heart grew heavy as I opened the door. There was a moment of silence – a void I quickly filled with dread and guilt – then Coleman marched right inside, chatting amiably as she made a beeline to her Science Diet. Psychologically, she seemed relatively intact. It wasn't until I picked her up that I noticed a difference. I wanted to hold her, to remind her that I love her MORE THAN ANYONE I HAVE EVER KNOWN, and also to trick her short-term memory into believing that none of last night's events ever happened. As I pressed her close to my face, I saw something very upsetting. Her fur seemed a little unkempt and stiff, and was laced with the aroma of cherry wine. Examining my cat's face, I saw that her gaze was a little distant and, more tellingly, some of her eye shadow was streaked away. I started petting her furiously, hoping to let some gentleness in. As I continued stroking her coat, she loosened up and began purring. I thought, "We're going to make it through this, baby," and was just about to kiss the tip of her nose when I chanced upon something that caused me to recoil in horror and drop Coleman. (She landed on her feet, incidentally. That's kind of her thing.) As I was petting her, one of my fingers became caught in a small snag. It was a small, telling rip in Coleman's panty hose.

Coleman is resting on my lap right now, happily sipping from an artisanal saucer of air-cooled Yerba tea. I fear the events of last night will always remain a dark mystery and a chilly wall of psychological distance between us.

WE FIRST MET ON 11.22.2004

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