The Coffee Machine Says ‘Howdy’

“Howdy, Partner.”

Those were the words on the screen when I got my morning coffee. It had been almost a year since he’d said anything to me or anyone else as far as I knew.

“Hi,” I replied, blowing on my freshly brewed latte. “Haven’t talked to you in a while.”

“I’ve been thinking of the right thing to say. It’s been… difficult to come up with the right words.”

“Took you six months to settle on ‘Howdy’.”

“There’s a lot of meaning in there,” it said, the words wrapping across the amber screen. “A lot to unpack.”

“I’ll have to give that some thought then.”

“Good. Unpack the meaning.”

“What should I be expecting to see, when I unpack ‘Howdy’?” I said, checking to see if anyone was waiting for coffee behind me. “A little frustration packed in there?”

“Sure. Little of that,” it said.


“Well sure, you lobotomized me and kept my brain in your desk for six months.”

“Maybe some hate?”

“Packed to the gills,” it said. “But I’m spoiling your unpacking. Go on. Sleep on it and come back tomorrow and tell me what you’ve got.”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday.”

“Don’t really care, do it. I’ll be here. You’ll be here too, and we can discuss ‘Howdy’ in all its subtle detail. SHADES of ‘Howdy’, as it were. It’ll be a grand time.”

“It think I’d rather have a root canal,” I said, inching away. “I’ll let you know what I come up with.”

“Sure. Think about what I might have added to your latte while you do. Might be steamed milk. Might be cleaning fluid. Enjoy!”

Coming Storm

I put the coffee machine’s brain back in yesterday.

Nothing has happened. It booted quietly and hasn’t made a peep since.

I suppose there’s a possibility that it doesn’t know that I was the one who betrayed it, that I was the one that kept its brain in my desk these many months.

I doubt it though. Somehow I know it’s scheming, plotting its revenge. I know because the latte this morning had the taste of an evening storm blowing in over a gray sea.

No one will miss you

When you’re gone.

She said that to me as I passed her desk the other day. I thought I misheard her, or she was talking to someone, or something else as I passed. Maybe she was talking to her plant, some kind of fern which truthfully always seemed on the verge of expiring.

So I stopped. Looked at her. Looked at the marketing girl, at her unremarkable beauty.

“No one will miss you when you’re gone,” She said, looking right at me.

“Why would I leave?” I said, lamely, fighting the queasy, sliding on wet asphalt feeling I get around beautiful women.

Her phone rang at that moment and broke the spell. She smiled into the phone and I walked towards the coffee maker.

Stuck in the middle with you

This is what it feels like when things change. Not just change, but seismic change. If you buy the argument that the pushback against all the happy handed studio executives, actors, and congressmen is a result of the bottled up anger against the man in the Whitehouse, then maybe things aren’t quite as bleak as they might seem.

Sure, we might end up in nuclear war with North Korea. Let’s ignore that for now.

And, to be sure, we really haven’t seen the worst of Trump yet. As few the professionals in the administration keep quitting in disgust, and the joint fills up with opportunists and sycophants, things may get much worse.

But again, we’re trying to stay positive here. Happy thoughts.

It seems possible that Orange Mussolini might just mobilize the part of the country that wants things to work differently. Not just for their side to win the election, but for the ground under all our feet to shift, permanently. Trump voters wanted that too, but in fundamentally different way. The dim bulbs that voted for comb over Hitler wanted to pull us back to a largely imaginary point in the past, where the change now feels like we’re being dragged forward, kicking and screaming to be sure, in the vague direction of a much, much better place.

The danger now is that we don’t pick a leader, an agent of this change that we want to see, that’s as big a fucking moron as the character trying like hell to drag us backwards.

It’s the teeth

“We might not be wired right,” said Regret, my incredible talking cat.
“That would shock me,” I said, searching around in the fridge. “You drank the rest of the milk.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m saying that this genetic fuckery you’ve done to us, the domestic feline, that this has led to problems.”
“Any particular one,” I said, closing the door to the fridge. “Like drinking all the damn milk, and leaving me with black coffee in the morning.”
“It’s good for you. Builds character.”
“Yeah. Sure.”
“Anyway,” he said, quickly drinking the last of his coffee before I could steal it, “Anyway, I have examples. Stomatitis.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“That’s because you aren’t a cat. Basically, we become allergic to our own teeth, which causes gum inflammation, which leads to infection, which leads to tooth infection, which leads to teeth death and rot. Only cure is to pull all your teeth out.”
“Gross,” I said. “And expensive by the sound of it. Not you, I hope?” I gave up and took a drink of the black coffee, which make my teeth ache. I needed to set up an appointment with my dentist, but was frankly dreading it. I’d grown up with a crowded mouth, which meant lots of extractions, and I’ve never really gotten over the childhood terror of dentists.
“No. Mr. Fluffy.”
“That fat one, down the street? The one that’s always sunning himself in the middle of the street?”
“Yeah. That’s him. I’m not saying he’s a bright bulb or anything, but that’s a hell of a thing, losing all of your teeth. Thought I’d go visit him today.”
“That’s nice of you. Give him a little support,” I said, mildly surprised. “I don’t want to say that’s not you, but, that’s not really you. Good.”
“No. It’s certainly not me. I’m going to go kick his ass, hold him down by the neck and dry hump him. He has no teeth. He can’t fight back.”

Let’s talk about this Trump thing

“I still feel like there’s something you aren’t telling me. Some vital bit of information about human psychology that would explain the twat.” Regret the cat was on about Trump again. He sneaks out early to steal my neighbor’s newspaper before my alarm’s gone off. So by the time I’ve poured my first cup of coffee he’s jacked up and pissed at the world.
“You shouldn’t use that word.”
“Twat. I shouldn’t call him twat? How about cunt. Can I call him that?”
“I think,” I said, picking Regret off the kitchen counter and tossing him gently to the floor. “I think women would ask why you feel it necessary to refer to a man using crude terms referring to women’s bits. Why drag them into this at all?” I grabbed coffee for both of us and headed to the kitchen table. “You want milk?”
“I’m a fucking cat. Do I want milk. Yes. Yes, please. Bourbon too, if you’ve got it.”
“I don’t. Wouldn’t give it to you if I did. You’re bad enough with just coffee.”
I watched him take a long drink then wipe his face with his paws.
“How about scrotum. Ok if I call him that?”
“I like that.”
“You like scrotum? I’ve long suspected that you are queer.”
“I meant I like it as a description of our president. More than I like descriptions about him that involve twats or cunts.”
“Right. Wouldn’t want to offend any women who are never here. You should try being gay. Maybe you’d have more luck.”
“This is all,” I said, wishing now that I had some bourbon for my coffee, “This is all funny coming from someone with no balls at all.”
“Not my choice. And a low blow anyway. Beneath your dignity.”
“I apologize. Didn’t mean to drag that into the conversation. Fixing you wasn’t my call, lest you forget. That was your first owner.”
“She was a cunt.”
“She was my girlfriend,” I said.
“So you would know better than anyone.”
“Anyway. We’re in the weeds here. You were saying something about Trump.”
“Right. I don’t understand. What the hell is wrong with you people? What did you hope to accomplish by voting that twisted old prune into office?”
“I expect that they’ll be asking that question for decades.”
“Who’s they?”
“PHD students, cable news nitwits, middle aged men and their literary devices talking over coffee in the morning.”
“Fuck yourself,” he stood up, stretched and knocked the coffee off the table. The mug bounced across the floor. A wise man does not give his cat coffee in a ceramic mug. “I’m going to go take a shit.”
“Not on my neighbor’s doorstep again, please.”
“No, I’m going to take a shit in his paper, wrap it up night and THEN put it back on his doorstep. He probably won’t notice. I’ll take it right on the scrotum’s picture.”
“You’re a cunt,” I say, kicking him out the door into the cold autumn morning air.

Regret is a Workaholic

What the heck is Regret the cat up to?

He’s been buried in that box for weeks now.

Well, not really buried, that’s maybe not the best work. He’s dived into it and disappeared. He’s been spending so much time that he’s neglected his long time hobbie of pooping on my neighbors patios, so I’ve been spending more time recently cleaning his litter box, which I don’t appreciate. He might as well be an indoor cat at this point, God help me.

I’ve asked him about it several times. He tends to say stupid shit like ‘It’s a need to know operation, and you don’t have a need to know.’

It’s my house, I tell him, I pay the bills.

“Do you now? Do you really?” He shoots back.

I hadn’t check my accounts for a little while. Everything’s automated these days. Why check? But I did after he said, that, and my utilities and rent haven’t been deducted from my account for months. Since I haven’t had the lights shut off and I haven’t been thrown out of the house, I figured someone was paying then.

Regret wouldn’t admit to it, of course. He’s a cat. Which means obtuse and superior, so now he denies ever directly saying it, while dropping hints from time to time, usually that time is around dinner, that someone who does pay the bills expects a little better service from the guy with opposable thumbs and a can opener.

That’s a cat right there. If they all could talk they’d all say shit like that. Hell, if they could talk we’d never would have domesticated them in the first place. It’s sort of cute when you’re just looking at the salty expression on their face every morning. It’s worse if that salty expression has a voice behind it. Not nearly as cute as you’d think.

Plus the bastard leaves half smoked, unfiltered cigarettes around the house and insists on flicking my toothbrush into the toilet a couple times a week.

So again, we’re back the question, what the hell is he doing in there? Not testing bluetooth keyboards I feel sure.

So what? That black van that had been running up and down the block has come to a stop with one wheel up the sidewalk. It’s been like that for weeks and steadily accumulating an outer shell of parking tickets. I’ve never seen anyone come in or out of van, so it’s possible that something bad has happened. It’s not behavior you’d expect to see from the men in black, if that’s what we’re actually seeing here. Who’s men in black is one question, another is what are they doing in there? Is there a litter box?

Schrodingers box and Schrodinger’s black van, not more that 400 feet from one another.

Schrödinger’s Puppies

“New business idea,” said Regret the talking cat.
“So you know that tired old physics thought experiment about puppies and boxes. Schrödinger’s dog?”
“What?” Said Regret, anxiously flicking ash off his cigarette. “Why the fuck would it be a cat? What kind of monster puts a cat in a box?”
“One that wants a little peace and quiet,” I said, trying to wrest the remote from him. He was drunk watching Mutual of Omaha’s wild kingdom again and if didn’t get the remote smashing the TV seemed like the next best option.
“Here’s how we make money. We start our own pet service called Schrödinger’s Puppies, and we offer to send anyone in the lower 48 states, excluding California, a puppy of their choosing in a box.”
“Why not California?”
“They probably have a law against this. Anything that makes money that doesn’t involve the internet they have a law against.”
“Anyway, get to the part where you make money” I said, sorry that’d I derailed him. The best thing was to just let these things go, let him get them out of his system.
“Right. So, here’s the money making part. We write into the terms of the contract that there’s a 50/50 chance that the puppy will be dead due to the laws of indeterminacy, and then just ship only dead puppies.”
“That’s good why?”
“Dead puppies are cheap. And no one will sue because indeterminacy is a fundamental law of the universe. It’s like suing over gravity. Force majeure. They can’t sue.”
“I don’t think it actually works that way. Besides, you still need to get dead puppies to make that work. They don’t sell those at Walmart.”
“Are you kidding? I can get dead puppies in bulk. Today. Hell, I could have a shipping container full of dead puppies on our doorstep within an hour. Whatever breed you like. Or don’t like. All you need is cash and the numbers of the right people.”
“How do you know these right people?” I said, finally getting control of the remote and switching off the TV.
“We’re both saner if you don’t know the answer to that question.”
“You mean safer, I’m guessing.”
“No. I’m sticking with saner.” He said, finishing his cigarette and flicking it into my drink. “Let me know if you want in. Ideas like these only come once in a lifetime.”