Ms. Catalina

Once upon a time, my writing professor said to me,

“Matt, my boy, you decadent and radiant figure, whose hair shines like the flowing artesian wells, and whose limbs, so strong and powerful, would make even the mightiest of Redwoods weep (NOTE: I may be paraphrasing), I beseech – no, demand – that you write a one-page monologue using J.D. Salinger’s ‘A Perfect Day For Bananafish‘ as your inspiration. Only someone of your unparalleled wit and grace could accomplish such a task! Also, it’s a required assignment, and you’ll fail the class otherwise. So, go do it.” 

And do it, I did. It’s called ‘Ms. Catalina‘ and I hope you enjoy it lots. – MOSES 2.0

Ms. Catalina

Ms. Catalina was lying in her grand, king-sized bed, staring thoughtfully up at the ceiling. She puffed on her long cigarette and blew smoke ring after smoke ring, each one drifting slowly downward and around the pen of the beady-eyed man who sat beside her bed. He looked toward her expectantly, tapping his notepad with his thumb and biting his bottom lip. Behind him stood two other men: a meek, anxious little man whose hands scratched nervously at his thighs, and a tall, slender man, clearly bemused, bearing an old-fashioned camera around his neck. Ms. Catalina took a really long drag, made yet another smoke ring, and looked down at the man nearest her. They exchanged a smile and she began to speak.

“My father was a strange man, and he always used to say: “Strange men are like fish: We swim, we eat, but we’ll never dance the mambo.” I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but I think he did. Or at least, I think he thinks he did. He might’ve even thought that we did or that we thought that he did or that he thought that we thought he did think he did, but that’s just a thought. But, boy was he a troubled man! I remember him always having these… war flashbacks at dinner. One moment, we’d be sitting there, eating, laughing, talking, ya know. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, boom! There he is, ducked behind the kitchen counter, wearing the meatloaf on his head, and throwing sweet potatoes through the window at the neighbors! Ya know… to this day, I’ve never eaten a sweet potato! Some long-held fear of one blowing up in my face, I guess. Not quite sure why. But anyway, he sure was troubled. He had this… this crazy obsession with deli turkey, too. I can’t explain it! He’d leave it everywhere. Drove my mother nuts, I’ll tell ya. You’d go to sit down, and uh-oh! There’s a piece of deli turkey stuck to your prom dress. You’d open up the piano, and whaddaya know, cold cuts come flying out! And he always kept some on him. You could bet that at any time, if ya looked hard enough, you could see some sticking out of his collar. He used to say of it: “How else am I gonna get to work?” Strangest thing. But… he had some good qualities, too. He was very kind to animals. Loved ’em. He’d always take us to the Dog Park. Mmmmm… what fun times we’d have. Well, until he attempted stealing people’s dogs. He’d go over while the owner wasn’t looking, pick one up, shove it into his pants, and start running like the wind! He once made it all the way around the block with a Doberman in his trousers! Yeah… they banned him from going. Yet, we somehow got in every Sunday. It was actually one of those very Sundays that I lost both my legs. You’d think it was a rabid dog or something, right? Nope. I tripped over a bench and, well, they just sort of popped off! The damnedest thing! And I know what you’re thinking: ‘But hey, I can see her legs right there!’ Well, just cause I lost ’em doesn’t mean I didn’t find ’em. Turned up in a Woolworth’s parking lot three days later! Ya know, they say I take after him, my father. But I don’t see it! Damnedest thing!”

The two men in the back of the room exchanged a glance. The small, anxious one beginning to scratch even more wildly at his thighs than before. The tall man let out a sigh and returned to his quiet boredom. The man nearest Ms. Catalina looked down at his notepad, back up at her, and toward the two men in back of him, before setting his eyes back on the woman. “Er,” he began, “yes… well, um… that’s all well and good, Ms. Catalina, but… er… we really are just here to find out if whether you’ll be voting Republican or Democrat in the coming election… The public survey…? Remember?

~MATTHEW ZIMEL

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