Bobby would never have been standing on the Ross island bridge watching the silvery glint of the cigarette lighter spiraling 150 feet into the river below if it had not been for the note. He would have also missed seeing Butch Torgensen cry for the first and only time in his presence as they stared helplessly at the distant water. It was also the last time Bobby and Butch did anything together alone. But none of it would have happened if it weren’t for the loser paper route.
The best thing about the route was not having to get up at 6:00 am on Saturdays. Monday through Friday he arrived at the paperboy shack by 6:30 to get his papers from Mr. Moriarty who never removed the dead slobbery cigar stub clamped between his fat lips. Even that nauseating sight was better than the long uphill on 17th street where he walked his bike stopping to carry papers past high hedges, to the worst of all– ten houseboats where he left his bike in the parking lot, walked past a competing paper’s mailboxes, down and back up 132 wooden steps to lay four newspapers by front doors. Mr. Moriarty had promised moorage customers door side delivery. He told Bobby he could keep half the money for every new houseboat subscriber. Friday of his second week, Bobby’s note stuck in each rolled paper read:
Good morning—I know you love your newspaper
I enjoy bringing you the fresh news everyday
(five days really, someone else does it on the weekend)
Tell your houseboat neighbors how handy it is
To have it delivered right to your door.
You will help them while you are also helping
Me because I have to do this route because my mother has cancer
And we are very poor.
Thank you—Bobby Thorne, your newspaper deliverer
(Read the whole story…)
Click and see the video montage of funny kittens: Kitty falling off table; kitty falling in the toilet, kitty with her head stuck in the paper towel roll.
Watch closely—it’s quick and a little blurry: Kitty flying through the air and landing, clinging, to the curtain. The montage moves on, but it strikes you: that’s the funniest clip of the whole bit— a different kind of funny.
You’re relaxed. You’ve had your two beers after work. You rewind and watch the thing again. Funny kittens do funny things and then it comes, the flying kitten. You rewind a little, pause at the end of the preceding clip, where a kitty pops the balloon it’s batting and runs like hell…
New frame: There—at the very beginning. You missed it the first time around, the skinny arm that did the tossing, the veiny hand. It’s not a gentle toss. You can tell that even in slow motion as the kitty dumbbell’s across the aperture and lands face down above the couch that’s losing its stuffing. You freeze the frame, see the kitty’s back fur spiked, see the scorch marks on the curtain. You advance frame-by-frame, spot the beer can on the carpet, a jar tipped over next to it, the glint of coins on the shag. One more frame reveals turds, a whole colony of them, cat turds from the cat in hell.
You’re tipsy. You’ve put those beers back faster than normal, but you’ve glimpsed an unhealthy life, even if it’s just a cat’s life… and you laughed. Ashamed, you send the ASPCA an email and include the link to the video.
* * * * * * * *
Thank freakin’ God for “friends” and cameras. They sent in the bit with him tossing his freakin’ cat (It was gnawing on his works. Freakin’ cats love the taste of surgical tubing.) Now he’s on the number one all-time most hits funny cat video on the web. Yeah, it’s just his arm that made it into the shot. And yeah, there were other clips on there. But it’s that freakin’ cat flying like freakin’ crazy that makes people want to see it again and again. HIS freakin’ cat.
If he hadn’t sold the camera already, he could have done one better. He’s not used to seeing himself from outside of himself, but thanks to that video he knows what looks funny. He should have had the camera: the kitten sneakin’ up on him in his mangy bathrobe on his knees, his thick head lost behind the stereo he’s unplugging to sell. You could tell by the grease on the matted rose terry cloth that he’s free-ballin’ underneath… at least he would have thunk that seeing himself. And the cat clinging to his balls? Who wouldn’t laugh?
* * * * * * * *
The Animal Control officer arrives outside the apartment at the address forwarded to him by the tiny voiced woman at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The stench is overwhelming. He knocks three times, four. The police officer accompanying him knows that smell. He calls for backup and knocks himself, three times. Four.
His big shoulder pops the door open and they enter, gagging. The apartment is all but empty, nothing but a blown out couch, some curtains, some crusted works and a dead man to go with them, his arms and face withered and pocked… He’d been dead a while, and by the looks of it, a small-to-medium size animal had been feeding off of him.
The man from the ASPCA calls out, “Here kitty!” From underneath the couch comes the unworldly sound of a cat fending off demons.
“Come on, kitty-kitty,” says the man, bending, the police officer backing him up. “You’re gonna be famous…”