A Smallie by Richie Johnson

I said, “lets give Cowboy a saucer of milk.”

She said, “no one says saucer anymore.”

She was right. No one says saucer anymore. I began wandering what exactly a saucer was.

She said, “You’re not supposed to give cats milk anymore.”

That made less sense to me. “So you once could give cats milk, but now you can’t?”

“Betsy at work was telling me. It’s bad for their guts.”

“But it didn’t used to be? You used to be able to give cats milk?”

“Don’t be difficult,” she said. “You’re always so difficult!”

I wasn’t trying to be difficult. I was stoned. I’m always stoned these days. I take a hit and feel anxious and short of breath for about ten long minutes and then kind of feel okay. Sometimes I take a hit and turn on music and that helps. Right now reggae was playing on the community radio station WERU. One host on that station often says, “you’re listening to W.E.R.U, where we are you,” in a lispy radio host way. My friend Homer and I did acid once and I told him about how that host did that and we couldn’t stop laughing and imitating him. 

“He’s tired—look at him,” she said, pointing at Cowboy who was actually teetering over sitting up. It was the most adorable thing you ever saw.

I got fired a couple weeks ago and was having a hard time dealing with days at home alone while Z was at work and went out and got a kitten I found on Craigslist two hours away. I drove all day and came back with him just in time to pick up Z from work and she was excited. I said, “he’s an honest cat, look at him,” and she said, “lets call him Cowboy ‘cause he shoots from the hip,” and I thought that was just genius. 

Wednesday’s at nine pm it’s two hours of reggae with this host that has the most intense Maine accent you can hardly understand him and it’s kind of fun and he gets sidetracked sometimes when he’s talking and bring up Quentin Tarantino movies, his favorite ones, and last night when we were talking about giving Cowboy some milk he thought of True Romance and said, “and if you asked me for a movie recommendation I’d recommend True Romance by Twentin Quarantino,” mixing up the name like that and it was just hilarious. Then he started talking about how we all heat by wood around here and it may be freezing outside, but it’s one-hundred degrees in our little cabins, and he said: “Push the coffee table back, lock the door, shut the curtains, stoke the fire, get rid of the cell phone, drink a sip of wine, grab that honey, and dance!” 

We were talking about how tired Cowboy was when suddenly the host cut in, dimmed the music and cut in, and said: “this is just a subliminal message that only the men can hear. Men, if you’re dancing out there, here’s a good time to let the ladies take the lead. Ladies!” Too funny. 

Occasionally I’ll get drunk at night and write my old college professors embarrassing emails. They sound like cries for help but I’m not even that desperate. I’ve got a kitten now that brings me endless joy and Z is all I wanted. 

Richie Johnson lives with his wife in Maine. They have a cat like everyone else.

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