We don’t preen here, the #2 guy says. He repeats himself because he likes the word preen, he puts it in italics. It forces the three of us to pause and think about our last jobs, because we all have that much in common: I’m being interviewed by two guys who left the same place I just left. There won’t be a real interview because no one likes interviews, this is just a conversation.
And my cat looks down at me from the sofa while I sit here writing. The cat’s been outside killing and is preening now, cleaning shit off its claws and back.
Cats don’t age the same way dogs do, they don’t have “cat years,” and that’s because cats are like fucking Tolkien elves, immortal, hard to kill, unclear how, you have to get them to fall in love with you which they won’t, and that’s why they live forever, they won’t allow themselves to love.
The cat is preening not because it has to clean itself but because it likes the sensation of killing and then covering it up. There is a smug, self-satisfied quality, a pride that says I’m SO-not-afraid-of-you just watch me sit here with my neck and stomach out and lick myself, why don’t you.
And the cat looks on disinterested and holds my stare but there’s nothing there in the eyes. Unlike a dog there’s no depth or soul, just the Timeless Expanse of Cat, bred by the Egyptians, spawned of asp.
To live forever requires you have no soul, you are a consumer of souls which is why you sometimes hear of old people dying with a cat bent over them, they’re trying to steal their last breath, the same with infants and cribs, cats are self-congratulatory soul-suckers killing for sport and creeping away to preen themselves and gloat.
I get down on the floor on my side behind Ginger and she fans the carpet with her claws while I strum her stomach, makes half- snow angels, looks like the 80s TV show character Alf, has this person-trapped-inside-a-furry-alien-TV character-quality that’s irresistible.
Which is why Ginger is embarrassed pooping around me and tries to be discreet, will only go in the pre-dawn/twilight hours in remote parts of the yard or deep in the bush when we’re out backpacking, sometimes in the dining room.
Ginger is embarrassed pooping because she’s self-conscious and to be that way, you have to have a self, a something to protect — unlike cats who don’t give a shit and just glare.
I can get Ginger to howl and sometimes when I do, I grab hold of her tongue and hold the tip of it so she can’t move her head. She will look at me sideways with that nervous Alf-look and when she does I say, Get out of my head Ginger there’s hardly enough room for one of us in here let alone you.