The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

New Scriptor; Something for the Hurt pt. 2

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                Cuddy told himself that the thing with his brother didn’t bother him like it used to.  He had reached out to Mack, awkwardly.  Uncomfortably.  He had reached beyond thoughts of the boys-will-be-boys tussles that Mack parlayed into black eyes and split lips when he came home Friday nights reeking of beer and vomit.  Cuddy reached beyond memories of the ripped art projects, the blue-ribbon ones that Mack hated.  Cuddy reached beyond reminders that sometimes woke him up at night of Mack’s knobby arms pressing him against his mattress, his scarred hands pressed over Cuddy’s mouth.  Cuddy reached beyond reveling in his own triumph on Christmas Eve his first year in college when he escaped Mack’s grasp.  Mack, still muscular and sleek, still cruel, had stumbled into his room not reeking of beer that time; he had graduated to whiskey.  Cuddy felt Mack clutch his hair and jerked away from him.  He stood on his own two feet for the first time ever and demanded, “No more.”  His knees shook.  He felt a trickle of urine run down his leg.  Mack stared at him, measuring him up and down to gauge the threat.  He muttered something and stumbled back to his own room across the hall.

                Cuddy had reached out.  He was certain of it.  It was only a few years after the Christmas Eve standoff, when their mother’s liver finally surrendered.  They were with her in the hospital for her final minutes.  Silent.  Numb.  Dumb to what to do.  She writhed beneath a stiff sheet, whispering something…  anything for the hurt.  Cuddy looked to Mack, unblinking, never getting a return look.  He came around to the side of bed where Mack stood and put his arm across his shoulders.  Mack angled his chin towards him, and then brushed his arm off.

                Cuddy reached out because he believed what Doris said:   “All Mack did was act out on you what was done to him.”  She croaked it from behind a cloud of cigarette smoke one Friday morning.  They were sitting in the kitchen, alternating glances at each other and at an empty bottle of bourbon that seemed to disappear too quickly after too many drinks they had lost count of.


Cuddy shook his head, it doesn’t bother me.  He forgave Mack, and tried to send that message by calling every few weeks to talk.  Even when Mack greeted him with, “Whadya want?” and gave nothing but one-word answers, Cuddy pushed forward.  They only ever talked about meaningless things like changes in the weather or what was on TV, but Cuddy was relentless.

                Cuddy grabbed a sandwich bag and dropped a few ice cubes into it.  He folded the plastic until it was cat-paw sized, left it on the counter, and walked to the back bedroom.  He found Sally under the shoe rack.  He called her name and clucked to her, then reached under the shoe rack, scratched her head, and told her he was going to help her paw feel better.  He grasped her scruff and dragged her out.  She growled and spit again, and he growled back, “Settle down dammit I’m trying to help you.”

He held her to his chest and could feel her ribs heaving against his.  She swiped him across the face again with her good paw.  He put his finger to his cheek and felt parallel gouges of flesh.  A drop of blood dripped into the stubble on his jaw.  Her back claws dug into the paunch around his waist.

                He sat at the kitchen table with the cat on his lap and tried to find the best way to put the icepack on her paw, but there was no good way to help the hurt without making it worse.  He thought that at least a few minutes of ice on her swollen pads and tiny fingers would change her mind, but she recoiled from the cold, swollen paw be damned.  Cuddy gave up on the ice pack and settled for holding the tense beast on his lap and stroking her.  He whispered, “We’ll have to get that window fixed.  Yeah.  It hurts too much.”  She cocked her head to the sound of his voice.  He kept on, “You’ve got a lot to get used to here.  It’s new.  It’s going to take a while.  But you can trust me, can’t you?”

                They sat like that for five minutes, until he ran out of things to tell her.  He could feel a growl deep in her stomach, and thought for a minute that she might release her bowels on him.  He wanted to let go, but feared for the pain that would spark through her paw once she jumped to the floor.  He tried to lower her, but it was the same flailing-leg cartoon scene as before.  The second she touched the linoleum, she bounded down the hall and spun, her untreated paw off the carpet, and gave him a withering look- what the hell did you think was going to happen?– and sped to her hiding place.

                Cuddy slumped in the recliner.  He found the butt of a cigar and relit it.  The bourbon was a pale mess.  He gulped it anyway, dropped more ice in his glass, and dumped the rest of yesterday’s bottle on top of it.  He’d walk to the corner for a new bottle after he rested.

He returned to the recliner, picked up the phone, and punched Mack’s number.

                It rang twice before he hung up.

Note:  A special shout-out to my man Raymond Carver on this one.  This is mostly an attempt throughout at imitating his style.  I hope I did right by the late master of the short story.  Another shout-out, this one to my peeps at LakeSide Ink.  Each of my pieces accepted by New Scriptor was handled by them in some way or another.

Written by seeker70

June 9, 2010 at 6:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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