Pictures of shirtless men distract me.
Especially that blond with the blue eyes and the loose jeans and the tattoo of the sun on his left forearm, staring at me as he leans over the rusted railing of some bridge in some distant, unknown city.
Twelve minutes and thirteen seconds.
That’s how long it takes for him to appear on the flat screen above me.
The sky behind him gray and dull.
Bland, out-of-focus buildings in the background.
I look back down.
My hands sit next to an empty beer glass and a notebook and a pen almost out of ink.
I pick up the pen, bouncing it on the edge of the bar.
I think carefully.
The pen transcribes the events of last night:
I took a walk along the Platte.
No moon. Correction—It was there, but it wasn’t reflecting any sunlight.
A dark blemish on the surface of space.
I came across some kids trying to drown a cat.
A black cat with narrow, yellow eyes.
I kicked a few of the young hoodlums into the cold water.
The others fled.
Sneakers slapping the pavement with laughter and smoldering cigarette butts.
The animal clawed at my arms.
The small body shaking violently.
Its eyes closed.
I took my shirt off and wrapped it gently.
Holding it close to give it warmth.
I spoke softly.
It just cried continually.
I never thought a cat could cry.
Cry with such conviction.
Was it somehow aware?
Did it know how close it was to death?
I walked back quickly.
Air cold on the shoulders and chest.
I heard a glass bottle break in the distance.
A few bicyclers passed by.
Their flashing strobes carved my shadow into the sidewalk.
The cat wheezed and whined and sneezed.
Black hair stuck to the cotton of my shirt.
Broken glass crunched under my feet.
Then, I was home.
An apartment below ground with cages for windows.
They call it garden level.
I ran a shallow bath of warm water.
I unwrapped the animal, and it did not shake.
It did not cry.
It did not move.
So I let the water run in the tub and it overflowed as I held the animal to my chest.
I did not weep.
Because death is just a matter of cruel timing.
“It’s a fag bar,” I hear.
My pen stops.
I look up.
My glass has been replaced with a full beer.
I look higher.
It’s been twelve minutes thirteen seconds.
The blond on the bridge is staring at me again.
I turn my head.
There’s some guy standing at the entrance.
More like swaggering.
Wearing a bright orange Broncos jersey.
Pointing his swaggering finger at us.
“You’re sick motherfuckers and…and you’re all going to hell.”
The bouncer pushes him out.
A few people laugh at him.
The bartender pours some more.
I look back down at my pad of paper.
I tap my pen on the bar.
Someone shouts out for a round of whiskey.
The music in the bar gets louder.
It’s now that I want to weep.
To weep silently because words are so easily forgotten.
Because the cat was so easy to bury.
Because I was so easily distracted.
I try to write.
I try to finish.
But the pen is out of ink.