© Nicholas 2004 - 2008


"Carlota! Carlota!" I heard Manuel yell between my gasping sobs. I felt the wall of him holding me, pulling me to him. I wanted to sink into his chest as badly as I had wanted to run from stinking Jake.

I felt the warmth of giant gentle arms. I felt the hair on my head stroked down, stroked safe, stroked through the twists and knots of faded pea petals and wisps of spider's silk. I felt the gooey slimy poison on my tongue and started choking, retching, gasping still for air.

Manuel somehow turned me round and held me like the mother's in the shelter held the babies; my head hanging over his shoulder as I coughed and choked. He patted me on the back and bounced me up and down. I puked all down his back.

"Ay, ay, si Paulito, si. Manuel, he hold you safe. Carlota!"

I wonder how I can be so afraid and feel so safe. I see Carlota come running out of the restaurant. How did I get here? Oh god, they are going to see my such a mess. Oh god, oh god, I'm crying like an idiot and Carlota's hands are fluttering on my head, she's wiping on my cheeks and forehead with her cleaning rag. I smell the crinkly nose smell of the bleach and the warm soft spices smell and my puke made out of the slimy poison goo from that guy's dick.

Manuel is walking with me, Carlota is patting at me and they are somewhere between whispering Spanish things in my ear and yelling Spanish things at each other and I just want to disappear. Want to vanish before Manuel finds out I puked on him. Want to evaporate before the poison makes me all puffed up and purple. Want to disintegrate like the evidence of Artemis's visit in that Ho Ho Minh city. Wonder how the rabbit cloud finally manages to disappear? Maybe I can just somehow not be dirt anymore, not be me, not be trouble before Manuel and Carlota hate me.

Manuel's climbing stairs, I never knew there were any stairs in El Chapultepec. Carlota's still fussing at my face and hair. She's so tiny there beneath me. I look between my tears and see she's crying too. Probably sad that I ruined Manuel's cooking shirt, he always keeps it so white and clean. He's lifting me now and putting me down. I see bright colors at a window. I see a parrot standing in the corner. He's all red and green and yellow. Then Carlota's washing my face and tugging my shirt up and I let her take it off. It seems so nice in here, like the spices, but crisp and clean too. Like the times one of the church groups makes those special pancakes; like cinnamon!

Carlota smells so nice, her hands so gentle as they smooth my hair and wipe me with her rag. I look into her soft brown eyes, I fall into the words she's saying. I'm like the rabbit cloud. I'm floating past the parrot and out across the blue sky in the window. I feel her tuck a blanket round my shoulders and I snuggle into the softness, the sounds of her saying, "Shush Paulito, Shush...... usted es seguro ahora, shush....." Her eyes telling me I'm safe.


I feel Manuel standing at the doorway, looking at me sleeping here, puke all over his shirt, eyes boring into me, making me disappear.

Eyes! Staring across the corner. Erik! He's looking at me now. Please don't let him know my name! Please let me be invisible.

Eyes! Mom's wild and crazy eyes hunting me, hitting me, cursing me like I was evil.

Eyes! Ol' Jake staring down between the peapods and spiders web forcing me to be visible, looking in my head, looking in my fears.

Eyes! I can't get away from the eyes. Hundreds looking out the big glass building. Looking at me under the tree. Artemis's eyes, peering into the blackness of my insides. Looking sideways like, staring at dirt brushed near his perfect, bright clean shirt.

Eyes! Dragging me out from hiding. Pulling me up from deep down warm inside.

Eyes! I open mine and gasp. Bright blue, wide open and unblinking eyes, just inches from my nose. Eyes coming closer, closer, closer. Eyes! Demanding that I open mine.

They stop and stare.

They blink, once, slow, so slow, so very, very, slow.

They press a cold and twitching nose against my chin. They close and push the warmest, softest thing I've ever felt against my face. A rumble starts from deep behind the eyes, they open full and call a gentle giant paw to lay against my cheek. The eyes claim me for their own and the largest cat I've ever seen cuddles up and purrs me back to sleep.

His diamond-bright cat eyes watching all around me; to keep the devils away.

I hear the music from the windows. Not far away like I was laying at the shelter; close. I feel the beat inside my chest. Baboom, baboom, and something else too. Something steady and always there, rumble, rumble, rumble. I open my eyes and there's those blue blue diamonds looking into me. Rumble, purr, purr, rumble, I feel the cat sending waves of safety out around me. The music's coming like from all around. A little muffled, so I know it's not like a radio, but real loud like too. Then the wailing sound of the horn, I think it's a sexyphone, at least that's what some lady at the shelter said one night.

"Oh that sexy saxophone just makes me shiver," I remember her kind of moaning in the night.

Yeah, makes me shiver too. I blinked back at the eyes, they closed and opened, oh so slow. I reached one hand out from underneath the blanket toward my watcher. He tilted his head and reached his nose out to sniff my finger and then pushed against my hand like "What are you waiting for? Don't you know that hand's supposed to just be petting me?"

I think he turned the purr up another notch, or the music faded a little into the background. Gosh he was so soft and warm. Black nose and ears but brown around his face, hehe, kind of blondish on top of his head like me. Then down his back all brown again. I petted down and his back end kind of lifted up and I could see a long brown tail with kind of a crooked black tipped end. How could anything be this soft? He was softer than any bed I'd ever slept in. He kind of pushed his butt in the air and stretched his front legs out real long and pushed his head down like he was stretching through his toes. Made me stretch too. My hands reaching over my head and my toes pushing out inside the blanket. I reached up and out and around as he stood up and lifted his back real high. Both my hands came down and gave him a little hug. He blinked at me again and turned and jumped down off the couch.

Yeah, I was on a couch in a kind of dark room. Hey! There's the parrot still looking out the window! I kind of rolled up and sat with the blanket kind of around me. Silly! That's no parrot, it's a fake! Some kind of statue bird. I stood up and walked over and touched it. Cold and hard. Not stone, some kind of something, you know, like a plate? But all shaped like a bird? And painted real good to look like feathers, too. No wonder the cat didn't seem to care. Silly bird, all fake and all.

I looked out the window it was near and saw the street down below. Streetlights on, a few cars going by. They flashed kind of funny in blue and red lights from somewhere near. I see some people walking in and out of the building this room was in. Oh Man! El Chapultepec! Yeah, the Jazz. Manuel had carried my inside and upstairs. I didn't know there was upstairs, but here I was, in a room with the colored lights falling out on the street like I seen those signs. The music was coming from down below. I could feel the thumping of the deep notes in my feet. Then clapping, right in the middle of the song and then the sexyphone going quiet and a piano playing louder.

Soft hands touching me on my waist! I looked down and the cat was all stretched up with his hands on me. Like asking me to pick him up like the little kids did at the shelter. Geesh his hands were soft against my skin. I reached down and picked him up and he just kind of leaned his head back almost upside down and looked out the window with me.

I didn't really know how to hold him. I thought he'd be heavy he was so big, but he was as light as he was soft. Gosh, I could feel his bones, but he was kind of like holding water too. Soft and squishy like. I didn't want to drop him. I held him like I'd seen the mothers do the babies, my left arm under him and down his back. My right hand kind of tickling his tummy where it was all turned up. Geesh he was real light brown on his tummy too, with real black feet. He kind of pushed his back feet up against my right arm like he was holding on yet upside down. Then he looked at me again and blinked and closed his eyes. Shit! He was sleeping in my arms! Boy, never had no one feel like they could sleep when I was near them before. He's like purring with the music too.

I sit back down on the couch and just hold him and kind of rock him and think I want to make him feel safe like I did when Manuel caught me up today.

Today? Yesterday? Wonder when that was? How long had I been asleep on this couch? Hey, I didn't have no clothes on! Not even my Hulk's! Wonder how I got undressed? Geesh, guess I wouldn't want all pee and puked clothes on the couch anyway, so guess that was a good thing.

Suddenly the music got a little louder and some light came from back behind me.

"Ay, Paulito?" I heard Carlota's soft voice.

"Shsss" I whispered and stood and turned so she could see the cat. "He's sleeping!" I said real quietly.

I see her smiling big and happy. "Ay! He is always sleeping!" Her eyes are kind of dancing in the light from the window behind me. She comes forward and reaches out and scratches his ears. He doesn't even open his eyes to see who the extra hand belongs too.

"He is Turi, we call him Tutu sometimes. Did he wake you up to sleep with him?"

"No," I giggle 'cause I really think he did, "He just wanted me to pick him up when I was looking out the window."

"Okay, are you okay?"

I nod my head.

"KK, well I have to go back downstairs," she puts a hand on my shoulder and kind of steers me around the couch and through a little doorway. I see I'm in a small kitchen with a little table near the window. Another parrot is in a cage above the table, but this one's real! He kind of weaves back and forth on his perch as he watches me and the cat.

"Look," she opens a little refrigerator, "here's some milk and Manuel made you a plate of little burritos, see?" She points to a plate all wrapped in plastic. "If you get hungry put Tutu down and eat. If you get sleepy just take him back to bed, it where he thinks we all should be!"

She ruffles up my hair and gives me a little hug and steers me back to the couch.

I am kind of hungry and as she quietly goes back down the stairs I put Turi down on the couch. He stretches, but doesn't do anything more than curl up in a ball and looks at me once with upside down eyes and then goes back to sleep. I get a glass of milk and one of the little burritos and sit at the table under the parrot. He watches as I sip my milk. "Polly?" ask him. "Are you a Paulie too?" He just weaves back and forth looking at me with first one eye and then the other.

Suddenly Turi's poking his nose and whole head down in my glass of milk. I'm giggling and grabbing it before he can spill it everywhere. He looks at me and licks his whiskers where he dipped them, them stretches his nose out and sniffs my burrito. I grab it before he can eat it and laugh and ask him, "Hey! Where's your bowl?" He looks across the room and I can see his bowl and litter box. He kind of sniffs and just stretches out on the table and suddenly flips upside down so his feet are all in the air. The parrot squawks, "TUTU!" but the cat doesn't even blink. I think he thinks I'm supposed to think he's cute and give him some burrito.

I laugh and take the last bite and walk to the sink where I rinse the glass and then stretch again. He looks at me upside down and yawns. Man that makes me yawn too and I tell him, "Come on, let's go back to bed."

He jumps down and beats me to the couch. I have to push him out of the way so there's room for me to lay down, but he doesn't get mad, he just cuddles up against my arm and pats my cheek again and starts to purr.

I think I must purr too as I fall asleep again.

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