Feles Fastidium

I’ve never seen the Old Bag in such a state. Messing about below in that horrible pink bathrobe, shouting bloody murder as if tomorrow’s sun won’t rise if I go through with it this time. Can’t say I blame her, though. This time I have more than half a mind to jump. Not just jump – no. Fling myself headlong from this towering height and stick like a lawn dart on the earth below. Best if I could land right at her feet, leave a terrific mess, and ruin her for good and all. I’m sure it must be appalling to discuss the destruction of a seemingly concerned and innocent Old Woman by means of vengeful suicide, but I assure you the old Fishwife is neither innocent nor concerned.
She goes now by the handle Widow Havespyte, but was once known as Mrs. Agatha Worthington. She lost her proud title when Mr. Worthington departed for parts unknown with his adolescent secretary after yet another curious mishap involving Mr. Worthington’s Sunday bath and a precariously airborne toaster oven. It took only a month’s worth of Thursday bridge club meetings for Old Aggie to convince the neighborhood Scandal Mistresses that Mr. Worthington had been mysteriously combusted by some unknown entity. In fact, the authorities had been so confounded by the circumstances that they had offered the dear Widow Havespyte a handsome settlement. That’s what she told them. Round my parts we call it alimony. And damn glad she should have been to have received it, seeing how she had attempted to exact some manner of foul play on poor Mr. Worthington at least once a week for the entirety of their courtship. I don’t believe I’ll never know why she was so bent on vanquishing Mr. Worthington. It wasn’t as if he was rich – far from it, in fact. Perhaps she simply had a burning desire to hold the rank of widow above the rest of her peers. Regardless, none of this is knowledge I desire. All of it came about long before I became the ward of that horrible old bat.
*
I’ll climb a bit higher up now. It should take some squinting to get a focused image of the clamoring below, but I want to be sure of a success this go round. If I fail, she will undoubtedly make arrangements against me. Can’t be too sure if I’ll ever get another chance at freedom.
My increase in elevation seems to have heightened her anxiety. She’s called a few neighbors into the fray. Good. An audience only ever seeks to enhance the spectacle. Now all those dilly dallies will bear full witness to the demise of that retched bath-wear and the screeching old derelict within it. Her wild gestures and incessant pointing liken her that of a malnourished pink ape: tossing her knuckles to and fro above her head only to let them fall weakly to her ankles. I like to believe her un-tethering is lost on those around her, and if I can get just a bit higher, I should be able to see the fire trucks from a distance as they come blazing up the way.
*

I am an unabashed orphan. I insist that is understood good and clear. I won’t have you believing any of the Old Bitty’s yarns about how I am the fruit of one of her passionate adventures. It is trite and fantasy and I will not have it. The truth of the matter is this: After the justifiable vacation of Mr. Worthington, the pained and lonely Hag du Havespyte found her world lacking a recipient for her unhinged disdain. Thus, she did what any woman of reputable ugliness and tangible angst would do. She made for her local animal shelter.
She didn’t mince moments, the Widow Havespyte. A languid point of her finger and, “That one will do I, suppose. And rest assured that I shall return if things are unsatisfactory in any way.” She dawned the pink robe that day as well. Lank and unravelling with beady black eyes she can’t stand more than five feet in stature. Her is nose flattened in the middle and leaves the impression that the fiend had come out the loosing end of a heated scrap on more than one occasion. All combined with a facial scar with a mind of it’s own leaves Aggie’s menace in little question. She calls these deformities “charms” given to her by God so that He might spot her more easily from his vantage. I’ve decided her “charms" to be tit-bits of vengeance for her many acts of contrived ill will. Even the Shelter’s attendants couldn’t wait to be rid of her. They shuffled my new “guardian” and I out the door without a shred of paper work having been transacted.
From the moment I entered the Havespyte Estate I knew I was doomed forever. Long stretches of scorched carpet and pot-marked walls signaled to me that considerable atrocities were performed here on a regular basis. I can’t rightly recall the exact count of experiments performed on me from the time I entered her stead to this moment, but rest assured that each and every encounter was of the utmost debauchery. If only I had the strength to go on living, I swear by almighty God I would be a horrible nuisance to society.

Like any proper branch of government, the fire department can heard long before it can be seen. I can almost feel the depression pouring from the men inside the trucks. Suicide prevention must be the least appealing assignment given to the valiant red men. Nevertheless, they come hither in attempt to stop me from doing what I’ve decided must be done.
They fill the yard quickly, spreading ladders and nets in every direction. It takes several of the more sturdily built Hosemen to subdue the wide-eyed Crone. They pull her a healthy distance from where I could land even with one of my healthiest of leaps. This disappoints me. Her distance combined with her cataracts brings about the precarious likelyhood of her missing touchdown. What if she dies without witnessing the impending gore? Perhaps I shouldn’t have waited so long, but I wanted a full audience. I suppose now my hope is that after I am dead and gone, one true account of my atrocities will surface in front of the authorities. I’m bound to catch a break with the entire neighborhood milling about on the lawns below. Someone must have seen something. I’m so long overdue, and so is she. One shocked witness, a swan dive from my end, and that barbarous Shrew will surely be sent away to the booby hatch where she so rightly belongs.
*
My quarters in the House of Havespyte consists of a swaddle of soiled bath towels – most of them of less than desirable colors. No pinks or blues or marigolds make up the pallet of my furnishings. Mostly sun soaked browns and off-puke rags that used to be white are simply wadded up and huddled into corner that is now more heavily abused with stains and scorch marks than ever before. This is where I have spent my nights. These trappings were the first cruel rouse played on my by that pink-clad Beast – it was not nearly the last.
I hate water. I hate water with a passion so furious that stars in heaven quake with the look I hand out when in its vicinity. The Ogress knew this from the very beginning. Once she even considered it a bit of good old fashioned fun to strap me to her old bamboo fish-catcher and send me sailing out, over a fence, and into Mr. Burnbury’s neighboring septic tank of a swimming pool. Fun for her. Hell on earth for me. There she left me, hour upon hour, bobbing in the pool’s center. If I made a sudden move towards any of the pool’s edges, she would send such wrench through the line that even the world’s finest chiropractor would find him or herslef stumped to the bitter ends of their education and experience. If she hadn’t a fear of the dark and a propensity towards food, I fully believe that I would be bobbing in that pool still.
Imagine a daily existence which entails dodging a hurled glass pitcher of spoiled milk as a wake up call. Imagine morning exercise consisting of a lighter, cattle-prod, and an all out dash for your life. For lunch I dine on dead grass. Imagine glorious summer afternoons spent evading an old wicker broom set a blaze with pure petrol. For supper – if you find yourself so fortunate – you swill on rotten tuna, eaten with both eyes fixed on Aggie as she moves wearily about the kitchen. Imagine evenings strapped tightly into a leash and kept always within swatting distance of an aluminum flyswatter sharpened to a razor’s edge. All so that the wicked Widow may listen to her B-rate radio soap operas in peace – without the threat of my escape. Imagine that sleep is only possible if the day’s fatigue overpowers the stench of rotting eggs and belly button emanating from the swath of rags surrounding you. Escape to a more favorable sleeping venue is impossible due to an alarm contraption involving the complex assembly of a bullhorn, sledgehammer, and a full roll of tweed rope noosed up tightly around my neck. I’m not sure if this device is meant to alarm the vengeful Harridan or to propagate my final end by simultaneous strangulation and bludgeoning. Imagine these are the moments of your life. Imagine, if you can.
I suppose I could have fought back had I been a bit bigger, or tougher, or even younger. Had I been a bit less reluctant or a shade more courageous I may have even attempted flight. Yet life is not just, I was not granted, so here I stand with my toes on the edge of the finale board. At least this particular manner of dispatch shuffles me loose on my own terms. I, unlike so many others, at least get to choose the time and circumstance of my demise. One of the few privileges of suicide I suppose.
*

The men in red are struggling for a solution. Ladders are useless in the ascension of overgrown Banyan trees. The branches are too vast and intertwined, while the streets here are too narrow making the application of one of those motorized buckets on a stick impossible.
I must admit, the weathered pink ape looks positively incensed at the lack of action now. She’s broken free of her guard is settling into a pattern of avoidance. If I can time it just right, there’s solid hope for ruining the hideous bathrobe with my landing. Knowing her as I do, Aggie will undoubtedly freeze in her spot when she sees I have begun my descent. She might even attempt a rescue. My God wouldn’t that be poetic – to take her with me. The thought is almost too delicious to bear. Still, I’ll be satisfied if the robe is stained beyond cleansing.
Ah! She’s near the sidewalk! Now is the time.
The wave of elation I feel as open sky passes over me tells my intuition that my aim is true. Gravity takes a firm hold of my insides and I can now see that my scheming was not in vain. She has stopped cold in her tracks and outstretched her gangly, chalk bone arms. If only the wind holds true, my vengeance will be fully exacted. All legs tucked close to my side, I make for maximum aerodynamics. If I can strike with just enough force in just the right spot, surely she will suffer maximum damage.
I pass the apex of my outward momentum and settle into the really tricky bit. Countless centuries of effective curses and hard killed wive’s tales deem that I must land on my feet. Hopefully the wind resistance will make this impossible. The very possibility of this circumstance is so damning that I can hardly bear the thought. If I survived with four broken and cast up legs my suffering would be endless and gut wrenching. Perhaps if I close my eyes and reach for my ears I can outweigh both superstition and history.
*
Something is wrong. This has taken entirely too long. My mind is flooded with images of paraplegic hair pullings, and claw filings. Aggie’s yellow teeth fall from her mouth – crooked and smug. It all hits me just before the ground. In all the hubbub and reminiscence, I’ve sold myself short once again. I feel the half-hearted crunch of neck on pavement. I hear the shuffle of that soiled pink bathrobe approaching, but I don’t taste the sweet delicacies of death. A shame too, as this has been my best attempt to date. It may be a very long time before I get the opportunity to douse life number eight.

Feles Fastidium

Campion Windisch

Hollywood, United States

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