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You should eat a little something
Part I

by Robert J. BAUMANN



The story takes place over two days and is told by a young man who slowly begins to realize a great hunger is not only affecting his cat, but also others around him. His journal tells of this as he too begins to feel the pangs of hunger gnawing at him. Bupkiss is a Yiddish word. It means "less than nothing". A homeless person with a toothache has less than nothing.

It is funny now that I think of it. Grandmother used to tell me "Feed a cold, starve a fever". I wonder what her advice would be now.

The real start of this story began yesterday when Bupkiss was noisier than usual. Bupkiss, my cat, is my alarm clock. You could not get a better wake up call or one more punctual than that of a cat. Bupkiss wakes me up by sharpening her nails against the door frame of my bedroom door. The whole frame itself is a mess of splinters where she has steadily been hacking away since I brought her home from the pet store as a kitten. If I kept my door open to her, I'd never get any sleep. Bupkiss tends to be more nocturnal than I am.

Usually she does her little number at about 5:30 or so. It gets my morning started. I shower and shave and then give her a morning bowl of cat food. We have the routine down pat. When I am ready to leave, she jumps up into the cut out section of a wall near the door. It is her final demand that I show her some affection before trudging out to do that which keeps us both fed. She needs a daily ear massage and that is all part of the ritual, too.

When I looked at the clock yesterday, however it was closer to 4 am and way too early for a cat with such regularity as Bupkiss. I got up and opened the door. Bupkiss did her usual carioca dance, which was her way of leading me to her food dish. I looked around the apartment and nothing looked unusual or out of place. There was nothing different, except for the damned cat.

 "Hey, don't you know what time it is?", I said to her, as if she understood my every word. "I'm not going to start getting you used to waking me up this early, cat. I feed you now and we're going to go down a dark road of me following your time schedule. No way is that going to happen."

I picked her up and gave her a reassuring hug and a pat of the head. I walked her back into the living room and put her down in her chair. Normally Bupkiss would have been fast asleep by 4 am. Nothing felt wrong about the chair and the living room looked just as it always did. I couldn't imagine what had disturbed her sleep as we are far enough above street level for any noise not to reach us. The neighbors? Quiet as church mice, which is just the way I am.

Bupkiss was not having any of this nonsense about going back to bed. She leapt from the chair and danced her way back to the food dish, looking at me over her shoulder. I am nothing but a sucker for the gentler sex, so I gave in. I put a few pieces of her favorite Topini cat treat in her bowl. The stuff costs more than my own treats, but a cat has to be spoiled or why have one? Normally I'd have dropped one or two in the bowl, but I wanted to practice diplomacy so I gave her a rare reward of four pieces.

She's normally a very finicky eater. She will spend a good amount of time inspecting the dish before condescending to eat what is given to her. Not yesterday. Man oh man. She just jumped at the bowl even as the first piece hit. She ate it like a wolf and the same went for the other three pieces I dropped into her bowl.

 "Piggy today, aren't we Princess?" Bupkiss looked up at me from her bowl with that "well, where's the rest?" look she sometimes uses.

 "That's enough for now. I'll give you breakfast at the same time as usual. I'm going to try and get some sleep now." I headed back to my room, closed the door and behind it a plaintive yow, in that distinctively high pitched voice she sometimes uses when frustrated. She scratched at the door again and I had to shout at her through the door to knock it off. Luckily the walls are thick enough for the neighbors not to hear such nonsense. A conversation like this in the bedroom would lead them to think all kinds of things if they heard it.

Bupkiss scratched the door again at 5 am and then again at 5:30. She was being a real bitch, but it never occurred to me to wonder why her behavior was so unusual this day. I would soon discover why.


To be continued...


This issue is dedicated to Global Awareness: All The Shah's Men & "Strategy of Preemptive Strive"

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