Journal of the Plague Year 2020: Grief, Threat and the Carnal Pleasure of Song

Sometime after noon today, I realized I’d run out of dry cat food. Lyndon had been pointing this out in increasingly shrill Siamese tones, but I’d ignored him, murmuring, “I know, Buddy,” and thinking, I must have an extra bag of salty crunchy stashed somewhere.

When I went to the trouble to look, I realized, nope, no cat food.

I considered the alternatives. Order it on Amazon, and let the cat screech until the delivery shows up late tomorrow? Leave the back door open and see if the cat will move out, or sate himself on lizards and doves? Demand that the cat peddle his ass on Craigslist for kibble? Point out to the cat that he could eat his wet food instead of just licking all the gravy off it and treating the solids as a waste product? Or just put it off for hours, then storm out of the house at midnight and buy something the cat will hate at the nearby Circle K?

In the end, I drove to the nearest Walgreen’s just before sunset, knowing that I’m neither hard-hearted enough to kill the cat and roast it, nor responsible enough to go all the way to Target for a month’s supply.

It was almost pleasant out — perhaps 90 F and overcast. For the last few days, the sun has been obscured by clouds, or dyed a lovely, apocalyptic red. I’ve wondered if ash and smoke have reached us from California. I almost hope it has — I miss the Golden State.

So I’m driving back with my overpriced little bag of Purina Indoor kibble. “Killer in the Home” comes on the car stereo — a keening, eerie lament that mingles claustrophobic domestic terror with grief over cultures lost to disease and genocide.

So I’m paused at a stoplight, singing along. I’m committed, because when I rock out in the car, it’s as if no one is watching and I’m alone, not just at the intersection, but in the world.

In front of me there’s sun-bleached two-door sedan with two bumperstickers:

Seems Like the Kids Will Never Understand My Art

And:

Puppy Handjobs

In the rear-view mirror, I see the blood-red sun.

On the stereo, guitar and drums crash, and the song pursues its dream logic:

They cut you in half with their guns

And give you a Band-Aid

They cut you in half with their guns

And give you a Band-Aid

The world has a hallucinatory beauty. I love the driver of the car in front of me, whose art humiliates and confuses his children, or the young in general.

It seems to me that happiness is sharpest when mingled with grief, threat, and the carnal pleasure of song.

Love,

J.A. Thompson

Confirmed Covid-19 Cases in Arizona: 208,128

Current hospitalizations: 574

Deaths: 5,315

P.S. The publication schedule in these parts has been a bit off. I started posting a novella, then pivoted to the next long volume, Duke of the Underdark. It didn’t help that I had a bunch of random items scheduled out, and forgot to move them. Oops.

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