art by Jonathan Westbrook
I Heard You Got a Cat, I Heard You Named Him Charles
by M. Bennardo
I heard you got a cat. I heard you named him Charles. I guess you didn't know that I do cats too?
I played all those games you wanted, all those black-blond-red-brown-bald-headed strangers. But you never said you wanted a cat. I could have done that too.
I told you that you'd never have to replace me, and I meant exactly what I said. I told you I could be anything you wanted--or even what you didn't know you wanted. In how many bars did I buy you drinks, wearing how many different skins? Through how many eyes and mouths did I pick you up? With how many hands did I touch you?
All those different men--all me. That hint of danger and thrill of confusion you always wanted, that only I could give you.
I heard you don't go to bars anymore. I heard you're afraid I still do. But that was never what I wanted. That was always just for you.
I was a fox once, before I met you. For three whole months, I was--except, now and then, when I was half of one instead. That wasn't what I wanted either, but I did it because I could. I was the only one who could.
And I can do cats too.