Transference: A Novel Book Excerpt 2
Lena sat in bed, propped by pillows and covered by both a blanket and two calico cats. She petted one, then the other, as she watched Rob. He was wearing only green boxer shorts, standing beyond the foot of the bed, arm encircling an upright bass, locking his eyes with hers, as he pulled a bow across the bass’ strings.
She frowned. “Why did you put on those shorts?”
Rob stopped bowing and tapped the front of his boxers. “You don’t want anything dangling when there’s a big hairy bow around. Trust me.”
Lena laughed and nodded. “Understood. But what made you grab the bass, instead of coming back to me?”
“Well, it seemed as if your body was taken over at this point.” He used the bow to point at first one, then the other cat, draping Lena’s abdomen and legs. “So, I grabbed the closest thing around shaped like you.”
Lena laughed again, as Rob stashed the bow in its pocket and used his fingers to pluck a jazzy tune.
“These guys always appear about a second after we’ve finished making love. Do you think they have any inkling of what we’re doing? Or does the whole thing just annoy them because our hands are too busy with other activities to give them pets?”
Rob plucked two notes then answered. “I choose door number 2.”
“Yeah, me too. Though I do think cats are smart.” She settled more comfortably into the pillows. “How about you? Do you think they’re as smart as humans? I mean, putting aside for the moment, all the incredibly stupid things human beings do all the time. But, you know, native intelligence.”
“Are you going to make me send your cats to college? I’ve barely begun paying off my own loan. And we’ve got to send you first.”
“Seriously,” she said. “Have you thought about what’s going on in these cute triangular heads? Or do you just like petting them?”
Rob’s fingers plucked thoughtfully, then twanged a string and let it reverberate.
“I wouldn't answer in terms of smarter than, not as smart as. Compared to us, to humans. They're different. They evolved a different skill set, a set that matches their physicality, their needs.”
Rob leaned forward against the bass, his long arms wrapped around it, as if around the waist of a woman with low slung jeans, and belt loops at just the right height for his hands to relax in.
"If a cat could talk,” said Rob, “here are some of the things I think she'd say. I think, at the beginning of the day, she'd jump on the windowsill, look at you, look out the window, look back at you and say “Day.” Then she’d proceed to let herself be involved with the day, and everything she was noticing in it. Then, an hour or so later, she'd jump down and turn to you and say, in a weary voice, “Nap.” She'd processed a lot while looking out that window, and her mind would need to rest with it, turn it around for a few hours."
"So, you're saying cats are hideously boring."
“No! True, it might seem that way, outwardly, to us. But their inner life. I have a feeling that's what's rich. Even when they're sleeping."
“Hmmm.” Lena’s eyes narrowed as she lifted first one, then the other, annoyed cat from her body, placing each in the bed’s center, where each lingered only a moment before pushing off the bed, thrusting harder than necessary to show their irritation. Lena sprawled forward on the bed, her head now closer to Rob as she spoke.
“Well, sometimes I look into those big, round kitty cat eyes, and it feels like they understand stuff. Maybe at a primal level. I like it. I feel extra connected to the fluffer nutter when that happens.”
She shimmied closer to Rob. “On another topic, I think if you had one of those cool electric upright basses with the barely existent bodies, I’d be getting a better view of those Wizard of Oz Emerald City shorts than I’m getting now.”
“Oh!” Rob grabbed his bow and slashed back and forth a few times, creating the background sound of a dramatic film moment.
“Here I think we’re having a deep philosophical conversation about our beloved four-footed companions and what?” He pulled the bow across the strings slowly, pulling out a deep tone. “Her mind is in the gutter!”
“Hey. At least it’s in your gutter, right?”
Rob executed a final slash of sound before dropping the bow and leaping, cat-like, on the bed.