Love and Grooming 4
By Lou Blodgett
We extricated ourselves from the corral, she, by leaning into and stepping through the rails, and I, by pushing carts out, sidling out myself, and shoving them back in. I walked over to Clarissa and she handed me the trimmer.
“Keep this in a safe place.”
She had her phone, and she still had her pack of Munchins, having taken them through what was now obviously another dimension, and there she stood, grinning. I remembered seeing a glint of her mauve flats flicking amongst the forks of the jack and clacking on the terrazzo as we ran toward the stock-room finish line.
“The trimmer stays!” We looked, and it was Peato, strutting solidly toward us from the store.
“It needs to go to a more secure place,” I told him as he planted himself, business-like, before us. “For undisclosed reasons. Actually,” I told him, “you don’t wanna know.”
He raised a finger.
“I’m tellin’ Silty!”
“Zildy don’t care.”
He grinned at the both of us.
“Why’re you both looking so happy?”
I followed Clarissa back to her place in my car, the better to research alternate dimensions and unwanted body hair. We were greeted at the door by her roommate Oscar. Oscar was a cat; not in the first or second blossom of youth. For Oscar, perhaps it was the third or fourth. I reached down and brushed my hand across his back a bit, while, at around five decibels, Oscar went- “rahwww”. What Oscar had to say was important, I’m sure, but I couldn’t quite make it out, which was okay. Clarissa and I sat, with her searching and me providing input on search terms. Oscar- Clarissa’s more-than-young tabby- eventually plopped with his back against my thigh, there on the sofa, and continued, at times, to voice things that he found important, but using, basically, the same word, at the same volume. But the subjects varied, at least a bit, I’m sure.
There we sat, sipping Hawaiian Punch, munching on Little Debbie Cheese Danish, and listening to Sarah McLaughlin as Clarissa searched on a tablet I wish I had. That I wish I had known existed. Oscar wasn’t the least bit interested in the Cheese Danish, but seemed open to me scratching along his back at intervals, and, at times, went:
Which, perhaps, meant “A little to the left.” The air was fraught with mystery as I fielded search updates and offered search terms like,
And we found lovely information about other dimensions in films, television and novels, but not one that could be literally accessed from a supermarket HVAC room. There were many- some quite lengthy- descriptions of other dimensions by conspiracy theorists. We found all sorts of hair-removal devices and creams, but no connections with other worlds. We also found some examples of dimension theory which were written for physics laymen, but which were still very thick. Those were more map, but without the ‘you are here’ part, though. Clarissa marked those, promising to pick through them later. I suggested opening the packet the trimmer was in, but Clarissa vetoed that. Besides, we would’ve needed a pick-axe. There it sat on the coffee table before us, shiny, strong and forbidding. We came to a dead-end. Oscar got up, stretched, then considered Clarissa as he put a paw on my knee. Clarissa considered him. So, I considered Clarissa considering Oscar, wondering what the hell. Then Oscar bopped away to another room with an attitude not kitten-like, but quicker than I thought he could move.
Clarissa put her tablet on the coffee table, and leaned back in a corner of the couch.
“Come on, then.”
Now, in another room, she pondered my ear. I could see from the corner of my eye that Clarissa was very close to my ear, and she peered with her eyes in a bit of a squint, her nostrils contracting and her lips consciously jutting a bit forward, in fascination and disgust. Like she was looking at the first aerial photograph of the scene of a train wreck. Or something. Her eyes widened, then went to a squint again as she tilted her head to get another angle. Into my ear.
“You have these long hairs on the edge of your ear that can be used to tie flies. You with us now?”
“Hm,” I said.
“You passed out.”
I stayed still, not minding Clarissa being so close.
“I didn’t pass out.”
“You did.” She leaned back and paused for a phrase. “There’s this curly one…” She pointed, “…almost inside the ear canal, and if it were unraveled, I’m sure it’d stretch to two inches.”
“Hm. Just nodded off, I think.”
“What’s ‘nodding off’? You were out cold. You went: “Thank…” and passed out cold.
“Well, I probably said ‘Thanks’.”
“No ‘S’. It was ‘Thank’. I was worried for you! But I checked your pulse. That was okay. Your breathing was regular…”
Clarissa requested a frontal view. I rolled onto my back. She leaned forward, put a hand on my chest, tilted her head and looked up my nose.
“It’s a jungle in there.”
“Maybe it was ‘thank’, like ‘dank’ in German.”
She looked up my nostrils with one eye squinty-closed. As if she were sparing the left one. Then, the examination was finished. She patted my chest and leaned back.
“You don’t remember moment to moment.”
“Sure I do! The rest was nice.”
She had gotten into sweats while I was passed out. She said “Hm.”
I got up and started to dress.
She stood with me, offering me my shirt with a blank, bright look. From a distance. “Bagel? I have onion-rosemary and blueberry.”
“Oh!” I said. “No thanks. Couldn’t eat a thing.”
“Zesty potato bowl, then.”
Oscar had entered the room. Just. And was near the door, going:
“Rahww.” Just loud enough to be heard.
Clarissa worked me toward the bedroom door. I hopped about and dressed quicker.
“No, really. Nothing.”
I finished dressing and went into the hall.
“V-8? You gotta have something.”
Clarissa walked toward me through the hallway. I went to the dining room.
Oscar went- “Rahww.” I wasn’t hungry. Clarissa smelled the best. Any food-preparation would ruin things. Through momentum, I made it to living room. With my back to the door. Oscar followed us.
“Turkey-sausage egg muffin? I have some in the freezer, but they’ve been in there awhile…”
“No thanks. Really.”
“Café au lait? Fruit roll-up? Chicken With Stars Soup.
“Uh,” I said. Oscar said, “Rahww.” Maybe he likes Chicken With Stars. I backed slowly toward the door. Clarissa stood between me and the rest of the apartment with her feathery don’t-care hair.
“Well… Bye then.” Clarissa hummed.
I went out the door. It closed. ‘Whump’. And I paused there awhile, with a raspberry breakfast bar in one hand and that cursed nosehair trimmer in the other.