Without warning 

A cat from hell brings back memories of Pierre

Lary's cat was tolerable for exactly five weeks, which really faked me into thinking that deep down she was a normal animal and it, of course, was Lary and his influence that caused her to be the demon he'd always claimed she was. Five weeks, I tell you.

"Jesus God!" I shrieked at Lary over the phone. "Your cat all of a sudden, without warning, just turned into a total liquid shit bomb! And not only that, she's stalking my other cat! Stalking her like a panther in the wild!"

"I told you," Lary responded smugly. He'd warned me when I'd first kidnapped Mona from his place, after I'd become tired of forgetting to feed her there during his long absences this summer, that Mona embodies a very special kind of evil. "It's been dormant until now. All that shit is to signal you to the presence of Satan."

I live in a warehouse with concrete floors, so normally this would hardly be a problem. I could just hose the place off, but Lary's cat had gone out of her way to pick out the sparsely carpeted parts to crap upon, among other places, and we are not talking the normal kitty Tootsie Roll turdlettes you could normally expect. No, Lary's cat took the past five weeks to internally brew this special nuclear feline diarrhea with a unique flesh-eating odor, and she took her little cat asshole and splattered my entire place with it like stucco.

And on top of that, she is tormenting my other cat, Tinkerbell, who is puffy and hardly poses a threat.

Tinkerbell is shy and apprehensive, probably because she experiences post-trauma from her childhood, when I played a game with her I liked to call "Circus Geek." I'd still be playing that with her today, only she's grown now and her head doesn't fit in my mouth anymore. So Tinkerbell has issues, but at least her behavior is dependable. Lary's cat, now, is a different story. She is entirely capable of passing as a sane animal for large stretches of time, after which she'll erupt without warning into a volcano of crap and madness.

I consider this rare in an animal, whereas with humans this type of personality switch is common. I remember when I met a French guy in Nice named, I swear, Pierre. We were on a train to Paris to watch the Eiffel Tower light up for some celebration, I forget which, all I know is that when we got there, Pierre was an angel and I was under his wing and wanted to stay there. When it was time to leave him and return to the States, I cried the big kind of sobs reserved for young military wives at wartime.

"We will see each other again," he whispered to me with the sad accent of a deposed king. The moon was full and my heart was heavy with a longing that, I swear to God, I thought would rip me in half. And he was right. We saw each other again.

Without warning, he came to Atlanta soon after I moved here, and I learned the first of many valuable lessons regarding European visitors, and that is they come to stay not for a few days or even a week, but for as goddam long as they goddam can. After a few months, I tried to break it to him gently that maybe he ought to get the hell out of my life for a little bit. We were at a restaurant in Buckhead, as I was hoping the public surroundings would stave any theatrics on his part, but I was wrong.

Without warning, he stood, clutched his chest and began to wail like a sick sea elephant, spouting all kinds of gibberish between sobs. "My father hated me and my mother wanted to abort me!" He howled, clutching at his hair. Luckily, his accent was so thick I don't think anyone really understood what he was saying, but still he was flailing around like an albatross on the end of a harpoon, and all I could think to do was leave.

But Pierre followed me, demanding all the way home that I was honor bound, as his host, to continue our relationship. "I am your guest," he kept hollering. "Do you understand? Your guest." But the thicker his histrionics, the more steely my resolve. "I want you gone by tonight," I said evenly.

I walked into my home without looking to see if he followed, which he didn't exactly. Instead, he veered into the bushes along the wall of the house I shared with four flight attendants, and there he wallowed in the rain and mud, howling and blubbering like an injured musk ox, tearing at his own clothes. "The more I love you, the more you push me away!" he cried.

I ended up calling the police to have him escorted away. I remember handing the officer Pierre's small bag of belongings as Pierre sat in the backseat of the police car, calm now, calmly looking into my eyes, searching for some sign of the woman I was in Paris, the woman who clung to him like locks of his own hair. He thought he could find her in there somewhere, behind the hard-eyed statue with arms akimbo that had taken her place. Pierre continued to stare, beseechingly, but that girl was not there. Without warning, she had gone.

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood (Harper Collins). Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at www.atlanta.creativeloafing.com.

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