My wife and I have two cats. Actually, my wife has two cats. They only became my cats as a result of marriage.
I hate them both.
Okay, scratch that—maybe hate is too strong a word. I should probably reserve the word hate for people like Hitler, Pol Pot, Perez Hilton, and maybe Wilford Brimley.
I don’t have to check my blood sugar if I don’t want to.
You don’t own me, Brimley.
While I can’t honestly say that I hate my cats as much as Blood Sugar Brimley, I don’t really like them all that much either.
They’re old, and they’re needy, and they’re always cranky. They yell at me when they’re hungry. They walk on my head when I’m in their way. They steal the pencils from my drawing table and bat them around the room. They gnaw on my shoestrings. They leave hair all over the place. They puke. They attack my feet while I’m sleeping. They’re always fighting and knocking things over and digging in the trash and walking on the counters.
They’re plain old rude—and they’re annoying.
If they were people, they’d be assholes.
If they were rich people, they’d be Kardashians.
A year or so ago, I was cleaning out the garage when I noticed that it smelled a lot worse than usual. Since we keep the little jerks' litter box in the garage, it tends to always smell a bit “pooey” in there—especially in the summer months. This was something else, though. This was something more. No matter what I did—no matter how hard I scrubbed or cleaned or wiped or disinfected—the odor wasn’t going away.
It was rancid, and it was old.
It smelled dead.
Try to imagine the corpse of a greased up Jonathan Winters, slathered in rotten eggs, tossed in the oven, and cooked for thirty minutes at 450 degrees. Maybe there are couple spoonfuls of guacamole over his eyes? Maybe a trout wedged in his butt crack?
That’s how this smelled.
After a bit of sniffing and searching around, I traced the scent to my car.
Did I run over a skunk?
No. The tires were free of skunk brains.
When I leaned in the open window, the odor slapped me in the face. After it smacked me once, it coiled back and delivered a backhand. As I was reeling, it traveled up my nose, into my skull, and spread outward like a fart cloud laced with Agent Orange.
Whatever the ungodly stench was, it was emanating from inside my car.
Standing at the doorway leading into the house were both the cats. The jerks were just standing there beside each other. They were watching me. They were watching me with their smart little cat eyes. They knew exactly what I’d stumbled upon and what I was about to see.
They were watching me, and they were laughing.
Cats are smarter than you think. They understand, they formulate, they plan, and they strategize. Cats are working out all the angles when you’re still settling on a first move. Cats are whisker-deep in semester two of Calculus 101 when you’re still struggling with long division.
With the little bastards watching me from across the room with their unblinking eyes and grinning from behind their whisker-laden cheeks, I opened my car door and crawled inside.
I could swear I’d stepped into the fifth circle of hell.
My eyes watered, and my chest heaved. I used two fingers on one hand to pinch my nose and the other hand to cover my mouth. I couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t want to breathe.
On the passenger seat was a dried up pile of cat plop. On the floor beneath my feet was another, and in the little drink holder between the two seats was another still.
Damn it. What sort of sick bastard drops a load in a drink holder?
The back seat was filled with it too—piles of dried-up cat dump—crumply like rocks and discolored with weeks of decay. It was wedged between the mattresses, flattened against the floorboards, and spread across an old magazine. Some of it was drenched in piss and stuck to the seats.
Partially because we were away on vacation and partially because I work out of home, the car hadn’t been driven in a while. There was no telling how long those sons of bitches had been using my car as their personal four-thousand-pound litter box.
That’s when I remembered it—the Goodwill stuff.
There were at least ten garbage bags of stuff we planned on giving to Goodwill in the rearmost section of the SUV. They’d been there for a while. I told my wife I’d drop them off months ago, but laziness got the better of me—as laziness tends to do.
I dislike laziness almost as much as I dislike my cats.
Still wobbly from the odor, I hobbled on spaghetti legs to the rear of the car and opened the back door.
What greeted me was a sight no human being should ever have to see.
Rock-hard feces spilled out the door and onto my feet. The bags were covered in pebbly crap and caked with blackish-yellow stains. Everything was sticky and crumply—crusty and moist in ways that didn’t seem scientifically feasible.
It smelled like a mass grave—like a hundred corpses were buried somewhere beneath our bags of old clothes and ill-fitted shoes. It smelled like what a Civil War battlefield must have smelled like.
I started to cough, and when I started to cough, I started to inhale.
It was inside me. Poo particles coated my nose and filled my lungs. Once inside, they set up shop, joined together, and began to procreate. They sent their kids off to school and invited their friends over for a barbecue. They were planning on staying a while.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the cats still in the doorway.
I was lying before when I said I didn’t hate them.
I charged in their direction, and they scattered. One of them zoomed beneath my legs, causing me to stumble forward, and land on my face—inches from a rocky-stiff cat turd.
I spent the afternoon cleaning, spraying, and cleaning my car again. When I was done, I repeated the process.
If I thought for a second that my wife wouldn’t kill me, I’d kill the cats.
If I thought for a second that I wouldn’t go to jail, I’d kill my wife.
If I thought for a second that he wouldn’t be dead in five years anyway, I’d kill, Wilford Brimley.