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‘I Am So Sorry!’
Fact and Fiction Behind the Novel Wife—: Portland, 11/30/2022
© 2023 James LaFond
It has often amused me that scenes that I write in fiction, that readers will bring up and say, “That is off the rails, could never be true,” tend to come direct from real life.
A reader complained that Jay Bracken in Big Water Blood Song was too overpowered as an action hero, in part because I have him doing 150 dips, a kind of push up on parallel bars, at age 13. That was based on me doing 117 dips at the same age. I submit that I was not the strongest teenager in the world.
Enter Nero the black, green-eyed cat, who stalks me, bullies me, begs from me, chased off a larger pet cat and, when I am drunk, and he regards me as gullible, talks to me telepathically. His master once decreed only two cans of food a day and Nero sneered, declaring him 2-Can Scam. Nero has moved out on his own accord but still haunts the residence of The Three Bears.
With most of Wife— done I was headed out in rain and darkness to the dive bar to slaughter brain cells. As I locked the garage and took the short walk to the back of the house, Nero sprang up on the fence and extended a commanding paw, fitted with quite the claws…
Nero: “Bro, its lean out here. The Three Bears done off da rez. Help a player out.”
Baldy Locks: “Sure, Nero. Can food is out. But I got dry.”
Nero: “Cheap, like that, aye. Oh, okay—well get the door; you see these what done for that big punk ain’t here no more!” flexing his big paw.
Baldy Locks: “Alright, Bro…”
The door is opened and Jupiter and Cheddar Bob, two playful kittens, greet he who they hope is their father. Nero, recoiling jumps back up on the fence.
Nero: “Oh hell no!”
Baldy Locks: “bro, you drove a 20 pound cat out of this house. They won’t hurt you.”
Nero: “Shieeet, I go in dere, I bet dey baby mammas gotz Money Probicth up in dere wit a envelope ta tax ma ass.”
Baldy Locks: “Alright, see you around front.”
As I was feeding Jupiter and Cheddar Bob there was a knock on the door. Donning my jacket and grabbing a bowl for Nero, I headed outside, ready to stab a tweaker. There stood a cute, dark-haired, white girl of some 25 years, five darling feet and maybe 90 pounds of pushing cushion that should round out to 120 after the cave man in me runs a set of brats through her…
I am looming over this woman who is alone in the dark, on a pallet-sized porch, as I have not turned the porch light on. She says:
“Sir, thank you so much for coming to your door. I am Fiona. I work with the Humane Society.”
“I’m listening, but this feral is shaking me down for some chow.”
“Oh, yes, he greeted me, is he yours?”
“No, and this is not my house. I’m just leaving. Nero here lives around, likes his freedom. We don’t know where he sleeps.”
“Well, sir, that is what I am here about. As you know, things have been getting pretty rough here in Portland. This has caused an increase in strays, cats and dogs, but more cats. We rescued and rehomed 700 stray cats so far this year and would like to continue and expand this good work. Since cats that are not rehomed are euthanized, do you agree that that we should expand our program?”
“I’d rather not see the cats get killed. But Nero here is all about you rounding up his competition.”
“Oh, cool,” as Nero crunched food on his table on the small porch.
“So sir, would you like to sign up with our relief fund?”
“Well, Miss, I’m kind of like Nero here, don’t have a home. Also, I’m a criminal [was wearing some illegal weapons and do break these laws everywhere and am of course a noted thought criminal].”
“I am so sorry!” Fiona said as she stepped closer to me to place a comforting hand on my arm.
I stopped her by reaching into my pocket and pulling out the wallet, “But, on behalf of Nero, could you write him in for $5 to get some of these punk cats that are cutting into his action off the street!”
“Sir, that is so generous of you, particularly in light of your circumstances. However, I am not permitted to except cash. This is a membership drive.”
“I wouldn’t want you hauling cash around here either. But at least Portland is still a nice enough place that YOU can knock on doors, alone at night.”
She put her wrist back to her chin and thought a moment, then smiled, “For now. Things are getting rough, though.”
“Miss, where I come from you’d need a SWAT team.”
“Really! Wow, that’s bad,” as a vision of her being cuffed to a basement water pipe by a BPD officer, selling her to the pimp who was firing her up with heroine and sliding a dirty mattress under her while one of his hos steels her clothes, parades across my mind.
“Sir, I’ll be on my way and I hope your tomorrow is great day.”
I nodded and Nero sneered, “Daz right, bitch don’t bring no food, its fuck en go—this crunchy shit here is tarable.”
Baldy Locks: “Okay, I’ve got some milk for you. Milk wasn’t good enough for you last year, but its cold tonight.”
Nero: “Shit nigga, you truly be broke...sure, milk.”
I poured Nero milk and when once he used to turn up his nose and flash his claws, he lapped it up.
The point I wished to make here was that the most unbeliavable non supernatural part of Wife— to most people, will be when Lynn is captured by one of her brutal hunters, and in a flash of sympathy, just like Fiona looking up at me, forgets her peril and says, “I am so sorry,” when she sees that the man that ran her down had been terribly mutilated by his masters.
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