Exit laughing

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.”

Fine.

“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, crunch.

“I’m hungry,” he says.

“I have leftovers,” I say.

“God is good,” he says.

Always.