The middling resume and the empty guest register tell a story at odds with the inner monologue.
“Yet the ego is indestructible,” he says. “They’ll put my body in a box one day and put that box in the ground, but my ego will claw its undead ass right back out again.”
“Like the godless abomination it is,” I say, and he laughs a little too loudly, waking the cat.
The cat yawns.
“It’s eating my brain, sure enough” he says, “but I’m not so far gone that I can’t see myself for what I am.”
“Does that hurt? The brain part, I mean?”
“And for what I’m not.”
“If you must self-deprecate, I’d prefer you did it in the bathroom, okay? And please turn on the fan.”
“Maybe I’m not the big damn deal I’d like to think I am,” he says.
“You have proof of this? Something in writing? Otherwise, I don’t …”
“The proof is in the pudding.” He pauses, meets my eyes, waits for me to ask about the pudding, which I don’t do, so he explains. “I’m the only admirer I have left.”
The cat stretches and walks away. O, o, o, to be a cat. A moment later, we hear her in the kitchen.
“Strange days,” I say. “Terra incognita.”
“Very much so,” he says.
We run out of words.
crunch. crunch-crunch. clink of metal tag on porcelain bowl, crunch.
“I’m hungry,” he says.
“I have leftovers,” I say.
“God is good,” he says.