What's blue and green and red all over?
View this email in your browser
Reading time: 3 minutes
Recommended for: Dog people
It involved a cat that I fitted with feathery wings and a harness. We named him Peter, after the fact, and like most cats, he was a breaking point.
 
We were living in an empty theatre in a once-central part of town. Beneath the spotlight, you, as Oedipus, draped a patterned tablecloth over your otherwise-naked form in a tasteful way fitting the conventions of nineteenth-century French oils (no bush), I adjusted the pulley system so the hook dangled at just about chest level, and then I retrieved our sphinx. The cat—who often roamed the neighborhood in absence of its people—was lean and feisty and the color of beach sand, but once I latched his harness he went limp, hanging dejectedly in the air like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.
 
At the mythic crux depicted in the painting, where the sphinx asks Oedipus this quintessential metaphorical riddle about human existence and the ignorant, bloodthirsty motherfucker gets it right, you stepped forward and the cat sprang back to life, fastening his four paws to your waxed chest. I saw you wince; we had to finish before there was blood, to stay faithful. In your left hand, you held a prop spear, filed sharp.
 
You fixed upon the cat a steely conqueror’s gaze, the look of someone who’d killed his father for not shifting lanes quickly enough, and sensing this—your power or lust maybe—he raised his animal eyes to meet yours. I thought, There, that’s it.
 
There existed one eerie photo of us together, taken way back at a party in our vacated past, lit by psychedelic red and green, where our eyes are locked on each other in exactly the manner of the Moreau painting, like we're engaged in some eternal prophetic struggle on a plane beyond this one or else are completely in love. I'm even wearing a fucking tiara.

On the stage, something came unhitched and snapped from its tether in the riggings behind us, and suddenly the cat ripped free from your chest and shot straight up into the rafters on its harness with a sound like an enormous zipper endlessly unzipping. We stared in shock as the cat went up and up and up into the darkness. The rope just kept going. 

“By the grace of Zeus,” you said, in this moment very apparently naked. “He can fly.” You were bleeding exactly like someone who had just gotten into a naked fight with a cat. The tablecloth pooled around your feet.
 
Lingering there, beyond the bounds of the painting proper, where Oedipus now just stood alone staring blankly up, I took the occasion to propose a riddle of my own: “What’s born in a chamber, ages without growing up, and dies without bloodshed?”
 
The answer was a turtle raised in a terrarium who then died twelve years later, palm-sized, or any number of other things, but I watched your caveman brain turning over itself to try to connect these traits to the cat, could basically see you repeating cat, cat, cat, cat in your head, silently at first, and then loudly enough to almost drown out the zipper-sound of the pulley, still pulling up, whisking into infinity. But you never got it, and, sure enough, the cat never came down.


Simon Jacobs 
is the author of SATURN, a collection of David Bowie stories, out now from Spork Press.

He may be found at 
simonajacobs.blogspot.com.
Previously:
Adagio for Strings
"Doomed," Chris Burden, 1975
The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife
Sarcophagus of Harkhebit
Witches' Flight
The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Death of Marat
Copyright © 2015 Paper Darts, All rights reserved.