Fishbowl

by Regis Boff

Mr. and Mrs. Stotnum Powder, renown for their rigidly synchronized postures, bumped their noses simultaneously against their curiously misleading living space. They had lived here together,  before memory, with the kind of Manhattan views, architects called pre-war, a term used for any near-permanent structural breath taken before things went bad.

The Powders, of course, knew nothing of wars or even bad times. Stotnum and Gertrude could see all of where they lived, all the time, and their windows showed them just the right amount of the outside, an outside they never entertained venturing into.

Stotnum waved some uneaten food off their dining area and turned to face Gertrude, “ That cat was here all day, staring at me.”

“At us, you mean, don’t you?”  Gertie shot back, a much annoyed by the exclusion.

“Yes, yes, of course, us,” Stotnum felt distracted by this apology, “It’s just that those big damn eyes seem to look right at you no matter where you are. They follow me, us, around like it hates us. And only the eyes move, haven’t you noticed that? It just sits there like we are all he cares about. Doesn’t he have other cats to play with? He looks like he is clean and well fed. What could he possibly want with us, to be friends?”

“I know. I know, but in fairness, the poor thing probably has nothing to do all day and must just want company.” Gertrude was always thinking of others.

“But just look at the great big world outside, that he has,” Stotnum’s eyes peered through the glass, above where the cat was sitting, into that realm he and Gertie had long ago retreated from. “What about the neighbors next door? For all we know, they might even own it. Why don’t they play with it or buy him a friend?”

“It must be hard to be alone all the time,” Gertrude offered, while brushing against Stotnum with her slightly arched back suggestively. “ What would you do without me around all day? “  She was carefully trying to avoid giving Stotnum the impression that she might be siding with the cat. “ No doubt you would just sit around and stare back at the cat”

“I would never look that thing in the eyes. I am telling you it is malicious and does not wish us well.”

They both heard the splashing above them and inverted their coordinated postures towards the ceiling, and as they did, they were hit by a concussive wave that pushed them backwards and downward, hard into their gravel floor. The ceiling seemed to be cracking open and shoving apart. The Powders screamed, but sound never carried far under water and there was no one else to hear anyway.  Stotnum was first to see the cat’s face above them, and then it’s massive paw. He saw it come at them with its claws unsheathed. Then as quickly as it came, it was gone again, and so was Gertie.