Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle here with the first chapter of my new story Catzilla. It always feels refreshing to begin a new story. It gives me the boost I need to conquer the world. This time I will be stepping across the animal line and writing about the Felis catus. The concept came to me on one of my walks where I challenged myself to come up with a concept for a new story before the walk ended and today, I will begin displaying the result. Why the Felis catus you may ask. Well, on my walk I pass some of these domesticated creatures in their natural habitat. One window contains a fuzzy apparatus in which two fluffy variants perch on separate circular surfaces. If I decide to go a different direction, I may see a dark striped one walking upon a fence. Sometimes the blasted things are loose and roaming about looking for someone to brush up against. A bit forward in my opinion. Nevertheless, these creatures seemed to pique my curiosity and I had them wandering around in my mind for a while. And so, I thought I would bring one to life in one of my tails. See, how I spelled it there? Tails. Aren’t I clever? And so, without further ado I present to you chapter one of Catzilla. Meow!
Gigi the parti poodle
The first thing you need to know about me is my mother is allergic to cats. The second thing is my dad is gone. He didn’t die or abandon us. He’s just not here and we don’t know when he’s coming back. The third thing is I’m a high school student who works as a busser on the weekends at the Kitten Coral Café.
Don’t let anyone tell you restaurants are a cool place to work. They’re not. They’re dirty and stressful and full of freaks you must survive with to get through a shift. Working in a kitchen is like going to war. Usually no one gets killed but sometimes there’s wounded.
Like this waitress who cut her finger slicing bread. See, they couldn’t find the serrated bread knife, so they set out this lousy third-rate chef’s knife and when she was slicing the bread, she looked up for a second and her finger got sliced. She ran to the sink and ran cold water over the wound as she yelled for help.
Finally, the manager and head chef came over and helped bandage her up before the manager drove her to the emergency room. I know you can make a lot more money as a waitress instead of a busser, but I’ve got to tell you I’m glad I wasn’t the one cutting bread with a third-rate Chef’s knife.
Anyway, I’m sixteen and in all the AP classes. AP stands for Advanced Placement. That doesn’t mean all the students in my classes have class. Especially Ellery. He’s a piece. Sits in my section. Makes weird noises. In biology all he talks about are the private parts of the animals we dissect. He can shut up about it any time. Anyway, Ellery really got on my nerves today. He said he was going to tell everyone I stole parts of the dissected frogs and kept them in a jar in my bedroom. I told him to kiss my ass. He grabbed it, and I palm heeled him in the face.
This got me a visit to the principal’s office where I tried to explain I was defending myself. The principal, however, didn’t see things my way. You see Ellery’s parents own a factory just outside of town. And a lot of people who live in town work there. Including Mrs. Principal who’s a bookkeeper.
My mother is a consultant, which means she organizes things for companies when they need to bring in a strong outside contractor. Presently, she’s unemployed. And terrifyingly frugal. We live in the smallest house in the nicest neighborhood in our town. Guess what that means? Ellery lives in my neighborhood too. He owns two fluffy felines that sit in his parents’ huge picture window and tyrannize the streets. We on the other hand own a peppy Yorkshire Terrier named Harlow. She was the runt of the litter. She’s very cute and very smart and very brave. She’s also hypoallergenic which was a deciding factor for my mom. Harlow sleeps on my bed at night and cuddles up against me because she gets cold easily.
So, I came home from work today which is Friday, and I told my mom, “I hate my job. I was not cut out to be a busser.”
“No, you weren’t,” she says bluntly as she sits at her desk working. She’s always sitting at her desk working.
“I got busted at school today for sticking up for myself.”
“What did you do?”
“You know Ellery?”
“I know Ellery.”
“Ellery said I kept frog parts in my bedroom and threatened to tell the whole school, which he did, and now everyone believes this rotten lie.”
“And how did you stand up for yourself?”
“I palm heeled him in the face.”
“You shouldn’t have physical altercations with your classmates.”
“And he pinched my butt.”
“He did what?”
“He started the physical altercation by pinching my butt. I merely finished it.”
“Then what happened?”
“I got sent to the principal’s office and he walked off scot-free.”
The school had already sent my mother an email about Ellery and my altercation. And a phone message. I guess most mothers would be upset about such a matter. My mother was only vaguely irritated. And the only reason I knew she was vaguely irritated is because she was tapping her fingers on the table. Outsiders would have thought she was completely stoic about the whole thing but when I saw her fingers tapping, I knew she was thinking.
We were to be in the office before school to have a meeting about the matter. That’s when schools like to have their meetings: at dawn. Like an execution. That night my mother shut her office door. She only came into my room to wish me goodnight. She told me she was preparing for war. This was no joke.
At seven o’clock the next morning my mother drove us to the school, parked the car and we headed for the entrance. She wore a blazer and a blouse and a knee length skirt. She meant business. She pushed the outside button and said, “I’m Briar’s mother. We’re here for a meeting with the principal.”
“Oh, yes,” the secretary said. “I’ll buzz you right in.”
My heart was beating fast. I did not want to be here and was missing my early morning badminton class. This was a bad thing because badminton is my way of relieving stress. The principal stood there in his tweed blazer and navy-blue t-shirt. He looked like a doofus. I call him Principal Peter Doofus. Peter is his real first name. Doofus is just what I call him.
“Good morning, Briar,” he said in an oddly cheery voice. “Mrs. Gagnon, thank you for coming in.”
“Of course,” my mother replied.
We followed him around the corner and into the meeting room. Seated around the big oval table were Principal Doofus’s secretary Miss Strumpet, my biology teacher Ms. Rufus and of course Ellery and his mom and dad. Ellery’s father had so much pomade in his slicked-back hair if I struck a match, it would have ignited like a gasoline tank. Ellery’s mother glared at me with her large dark eyes as if I’d thrown Ellery down a well and Lassie refused to go for help.
Anyway, we all sat down at the oval table as Principal Doofus straightened his jacket and said, “Good morning. Would anyone care for some coffee or tea?”
“Coffee black,” Ellery’s father said, “for my wife and I.”
Black like their souls.
“How about you?” the principal asked my mother.
“No, thank you,” she replied.
My mother has a strict rule she follows and insists her daughter follow which is never take an open beverage from anyone.
“Two black coffees it is,” Principal Doofus said before sitting down at the end of the oval table. This, of course, is code for Miss Strumpet to go fetch the coffees. I think Miss Strumpet and Principal Doofus are meeting at a cheap motel after school. In fact, I think they probably came from one this morning.
Miss Strumpet fetched the coffees, brought them back, and set them in front of Ellery’s parents.
“The reason we’re here today,” Doofus said, “is because there was an altercation between Briar and Ellery.”
“Yeah,” Ellery said. “She hit me.”
“Assaulted you,” his mother corrected. “That girl assaulted you.”
“You grabbed my ass,” I snapped at Ellery who grinned.
My mother signaled me to calm down. But I seethed. I wanted to palm heel Ellery’s face again.
“Girls,” Ellery’s mother said with contempt. “They’re always flirting with my son.”
“I never flirted with your son,” I said. “He looks like a salamander.”
“The point is,” Principal Doofus said, “Briar palm heeled Ellery in the face, and we cannot have that kind of behavior in our high school.”
“As Briar pointed out to you,” my mother said, “Ellery initially pinched her derriere which means Ellery committed the first physical violation. And I have taught my daughter never to strike first and to avoid physical confrontation unless she is aggressed upon.”
“She was probably flirting with my son and instigated it,” Ellery’s mother said.
“I never flirted with your son,” I repeated. “He looks like a salamander.”
“You deny it now because you got caught.”
“She says it now,” my mother said, “to underline the point she is not interested in your sexually aggressive son.”
“My son is not sexually aggressive.”
“And for the record I agree with the salamander comparison.”
“Your daughter looks like a plain little bookworm,” Ellery’s father says.
“My daughter is a bookworm. The point is each of them crossed the line and each of them should face the consequences.”
My mother was right of course. But again, Principal Doofus’s wife works as a bookkeeper for Ellery’s parents.
“Well,” Principal Doofus said, “Briar striking Ellery is a bit more violent than Ellery pinching Briar’s…derriere.”
“People have been fired for less than what Ellery did. The fair thing to do is have both kids serve detention and then the matter is settled.”
“What if your daughter tries to get my son pregnant?” Ellery’s mother said.
My mother turned to her with a death stare. “I beg your pardon?”
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m more concerned you may not know what you mean. And for that matter it takes two to cause a pregnancy.”
“In some cases, three,” I said. “When science is involved.”
My mother turned and gave me a quit-while-you’re-ahead look. Then she continued. “The point is my daughter has no interest in your son. And they have absolutely nothing in common. I am generally not fond of punishment unless it brings about a change. Be that as it may, I believe both should apologize to each other and serve detention and end the matter there.
Ellery’s father who had been glaring at my mother for most of the meeting turned to Principal Doofus and said, “Will this go on our son’s permanent record?”
Professor Doofus cleared his throat and said, “Well, everything goes on a student’s permanent record these days. But I assure you it won’t stand in the way of Ellery going to a fine university.”
Ellery’s father leaned in a little closer. “See that it doesn’t.”
You can check out my books Chicane and all five installments of the Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!, Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: WILD (2014)-HBO MAX
This week’s pick is a fantastic little film based on the memoir of the same name. It is the story of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon in a well-deserved Oscar nominated performance) who after a death in the family, drug and sex issues, and a failed marriage to Paul (Thomas Sadoski) decides to cope with her grief by embarking on a solo 1100 mile walk on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl is haunted by disturbing memories of her past including her abusive father whom she, her brother Leif (Keene McRae) and her mother had to flee from. She has tried to cope with the tragedy in her life by embarking on a slew of one-night stands and developing a heroin addiction. The trail starts in the Mojave Desert, goes through California and Oregon, and ends in Washington State. Making the trek is no small task as it is rough isolated terrain with many brutal grueling physical and mental obstacles along the way. Not being a seasoned hiker and having little to no money to her name, she finds herself carrying heavy gear in 100-degree heat, lacking fuel to cook her food, and occasionally finding herself dependent on strangers who may or may not be trustworthy. But for Cheryl completing the journey is crucial for her to reconnect with beauty and find a way to reconstruct her life. Laura Dern turns in a wonderful Oscar nominated performance as Cheryl’s ever upbeat mother Bobbi.