Sekhnet bought me a brilliant device that clips on a pocket, smaller than a pinkie. It measures steps, calculates miles walked, has an altimeter that ticks off how many flights of steps, or their uphill equivalent, you walk. It’s pretty motivational, I have to say. We playfully compete against each other and can see each other’s stats on-line. I cling to the slightest of leads over her in steps this week, and I see, to my chagrin, that pacing around the hovel today only netted me 1,747 steps, less than a mile. I climbed no stairs.
Now the clock is counting down, it’s after midnight. I’ve been nursing a bad cold all day, holding it to my breast, suckling it on hot soup when it was not gurgling out my nose, rattling in my chest. Feeling a tiny bit better after all that and then I see my time to walk has passed. And 29 steps on the device. 29 friggin’ steps. 0.01 miles. So I have to go for a walk, just up the Avenue, around the hill at the corner, down to Broadway, back up the hill, down the Avenue. 3,000 steps, get me started for tomorrow.
“What are you prattling about, man, with 7:01 leering on the timer?”
Hmmmm. Yes. What, indeed. I am trying to get this heavier than air aircraft to fly. It’s said to be theoretically possible. People tell me I’m insane. Maybe they’re right. Then I notice the clothes of one of their children, spattered with blood, a certain haste to kick them behind the chair. A guilty look, picking the teeth, wiping the mouth then hiding the napkin, eyes flashing wildly from side to side, laughing too loud.
“Cannibal,” I think to myself, swallowing hard, “and, yes, I’m insane.”
“You hang out with people who eat their children, man,” points out a shrewd one, as though it were obvious what kind of person that makes me.
Perhaps, yes, they eat their children. But they certainly don’t mean to eat them. For God’s sake, man, you’re not saying they eat them because they want to eat them?!
“Of course not,” man says soothingly, falsely, “nobody wants to eat their own children, surely not. But it would seem they are irresistibly delicious, wouldn’t it?”
I hasten neither to agree nor disagree, the walls of the cabin are sweating feverishly and there is less than three minutes on the timer. I don’t like the way this cat’s looking at me.
“What?” he asks, innocent and evil at once, “I’m not a vegetarian. Not a vegetarian like you, Hilter of the sea.”
“I don’t feel so good about eating fish,” I tell him, but he’s already one step ahead, the fork and knife glinting in his hands, napkin tucked smartly under his chin, ready.
I’ve got to get the hell out of here, I say to myself, trying not to look the obvious in the face. I’ve got to get the hell out of here.
41 seconds on the clock, I see, and it feels like a year. A year in prison, I’m telling you. 20 seconds now, like a month. And now, counting the last ten and…. ah, the buzzer.
I’m headed out to the Avenue.