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Book 1 – Chapter 6 – Climax – Part 6

I believe we talked on the ride home. She probably tried to distract me and it worked. I recall that I said, “Why are you helping me?” but I lost her reply in the jumble of the night. It might have been a non sequitur, knowing her.

I do know that I asked her about the night we first met. “You know, the booga-booga that chased us around your neighborhood,” I said, “Did you find out what it was?”

“No, and I’ve wracked my brain over it too long,” she said, “There’s no precedent for it. Maybe it was trying to stop this from happening.”

“You didn’t have anything to do with it,” I said, “I already had the blogs and the pictures taken before I met you.”

“That’s not what I mean,” she said, “Perhaps I was supposed to prevent this.”

“But you didn’t,” I said.

“Well, it should have been a little clearer then,” she said.

And there we were, two grown women in a car talking crazy. I didn’t contact her again for some time. She dropped me off at my apartment. I don’t think we had anything left to tell each other. That night took a while to quit smoldering in our dreams. We could only retread the obvious.

I still had to deal with the package, so I made one last call to Della from my apartment. I asked her to leave a voice mail at the professor’s office explaining who she was, why she didn’t like me, and that he would find a package soon filled with doctored photographs and letters she had written herself. I promised to wire her more money and I did the following day.

I assumed she had left the message because I did not hear from Professor Lanyi or anyone from his office that week.

I fell in love with my television again. I flicked it on when I came home and it stayed on until bedtime. I listened to it during my naps. Silence wasn’t my friend.

The next night, I went though my wardrobe for every skirt and slacks that felt like too much trouble to keep. I tossed them in a garbage bag that I dumped in the Goodwill bin. I had worn some with my tail, but not all. The feeling was more important than the fact. The bolts of fake fur did nothing for me either way. I buried them in my closet.

I tried playing my Go-Go’s CDs and other music which had a revelation in the third stanza after the bridge, when an extra chord brought the whole melody together. It used to give me a miniature orgasm. I didn’t get any further than the notes.

I became very good at my job. I guided every client through the checklists in record time. One woman was screaming in my earpiece, but that had nothing to do with me. The frustration was all hers, and I let her wear herself down until she was ready to continue with my help.

I stubbed my toe on my oven’s open door. I kept prodding it to make sure my veins weren’t full of blowfish venom.

Trisha dragged me out to the Lizard Lounge on Friday for a funk band in which a friend of hers played bass. I was breaking in a new indigo wool coat I had found for a steal. I had the best calls from work fresh in my mind when I arrived. Trisha had claimed a stool at the bar with Simon. “Have a seat,” she said, “They’re not until nine.”

I climbed onto the one beside Simon. He had a soda that probably cost as much as Trisha’s daiquiri. “I was telling Trisha about a crisis I read about in an Italian town last year,” he said, “Get this. Electrical appliances started to short out everywhere. And the outlets started to arc whenever anyone got close. They had to evacuate the town. It was on CNN’s website.”

I leaned on the counter to read the bottle labels and the menu on the bar. I couldn’t make up my mind. One of everything would have been great. “Did they ever figure out what caused it?” I said.

“Nope,” he said, “I don’t know what happened. It’d make a good ghost story if it wasn’t real.”

“It was probably an overfed grid,” Trisha said, “Who knows how old their instruments are.”

“Maybe,” Simon said, “I can’t believe it didn’t get more coverage.”

Trisha hopped down to bring her drink over to me. “You have to try this,” she said, “There’s rum, kiwi juice and a shot of that vodka I’ve never seen before in here.”

“There’s no vodka in a daiquiri,” Simon said.

Trisha pointed to the drinks menu. “Artic Paradise, number twenty-seven,” she said, “Go on. I’m ordering another.”

I sipped the sweet juice drenched in heavy liquor. That was a drink of indulgence and I wasn’t in the mood. “It’s a bit much for me right now,” I said.

Trisha teased Simon with it. “I wouldn’t dream of depriving you any,” he said.

The night was early and I decided to use the restroom before it grew a line. I left my coat to guard my stool and excused myself.

The toilets were better than at a fast food joint. Their stall doors were on their hinges and the rims didn’t have a layer from the last hundred girls to use them. After I had done my business, a girl with short frizzy hair was freshening her lipstick in the mirror while I washed my hands. She wore a khaki skirt and her lipstick wasn’t that different from her natural lip color.

“Hey, are you here to see the band?” she called to me without turning.

“Yeah,” I said, “A friend of mine knows the bassist.”

“That’s cool,” she said, “They do a killer ‘Superstition.’ I have some of their demo reels back at my place. I’m having a party after the show. You want to come?”

I shrugged. “Not really,” I said.

Her pupils shot over to me for a moment. Then she washed her hands and left without another word.

I was on my bar stool before I realized she was hitting on me. I didn’t understand why she would. I knew nothing about her, or what we would do together.

I didn’t feel numb myself. My world had become that way and I had no idea how to leave it. I ordered a good beer and sucked every mouthful to get what flavor I could from it.

“Moonyena dropped her tirade against me,” Trisha said, “Her reply count dropped on her journal so she’s back to writing intimate details about when she dilates her pussy.”

“Wait,” Simon said, “It should be the other way around. Who wants to read that?”

“Fetishists, dreamers, people who want her friends to think they’re cool,” she said, “I don’t care. As long as it’s over before Furrificon, I don’t care.”

“Amen,” Simon said.

I had begun to seethe while they traded stories. I couldn’t believe I was so blind. And I had shot the girl down, too. There wouldn’t be any point in following up.

I didn’t realize I had my eyes locked into empty space until Simon pushed me on the shoulder. “Cheryl, what’s wrong?” he said.

I had been thrashing my tail for a good minute before he noticed me. “I’m frustrated,” I snarled at him, “Can’t you see?”

But no, he couldn’t. And neither could Trisha.

I twisted around in my stool. “Forget it,” I said, “I should go home.”

Simon cocked his head beside mine. “No, stay,” he said, “I’m sorry. I’ve been clueless. I know you’re going through a lot.”

“Come on, nobody’s going to notice you when the band starts,” Trisha said.

I put up my hand to quiet her. “That’s not going to help,” I said.

“Then what will?” Simon said.

I couldn’t answer him. “I don’t know,” I said, “I’d give anything to know.”

“Well, screw the band,” Trisha, “What do you want to do?”

“I want to go home,” I said, “No offense.”

“Can we come with?” Simon said.

“Sure,” I said, “I don’t have much to do there.”

“I’ve got ‘Devil Bunny Wants a Ham’ in my purse,” Trisha said.

“I haven’t been over in a while,” Simon said, “Not since you started dating someone.”

A slight smirk crept out of me. “Yeah, I’ve been bad about that,” I said.

“Then it’s settled,” Trisha said, “We can stop at a package store on the way over and load up.”

“You can,” Simon said.

“Someday, I’m going to slip more Smirnoff into you and you’ll never see it coming,” she said.

“And if it goes in my mouth,” he said, “It comes right out on you.”

Trisha bundled her neck up. “Are you ready?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “You don’t mind?”

“Not in the least,” she said.

I was happy with them for a little while. My tail settled down and White-Star regained his sensible disposition. I sensed the Great It watching me from the edges of my apartment and new doors opening in strange places. And the morning after, when Simon and Trisha had wandered home and I didn’t have to puppet White-Star for them with his paws going up and down, the stupor hit me again. I had nothing to prove to anyone. Everything was exactly the same as it had been months ago, except Della was gone. That was no great loss. Although I laid on my back in bed, my tail beat on and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Categories: Book 1 - How Cheryl Got Her Tail, Chapter 6 - Climax.

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