The emptiness of my house was overmatched only by the emptiness in my heart. I sat in the living room, my eyes staring at the piece of paper that I found pinned to the front door. Moisture welled up in my eyes, and the only thing I could think of, at this my lowest moment, was having a drink. The words on the paper stuck in me like a knife. They were definitive and decisive. There was no way my wife and kids were coming back to me. She had taken our children, and gone away, but she didn’t say where in the letter. A bit of rage seeped into my sadness as I clenched my fist around the paper. I could feel the desire to smash something growing. I reached out for the bottle of beer that rested on the coffee table in front of me.
Now, isn’t that how all this got started in the first place, old boy? A strangely deep voice said, seemingly out of nowhere.
What? Who said that? I asked looking around for the mysterious speaker.
Which question do you want me to answer first? The voice said. This time it sounded like it was coming from behind me. I turned my head to look, but there was no one there. When I turned back to my beer, the strangest sight I’d ever seen was assaulting my eyes. An enormous man stood in my living room. But this was no ordinary man. He wore a strange outfit, a black and red striped pair of pants, and a black shirt with red polka dots. I’d not seen anything so bizarre outside of a circus. But, that wasn’t the extraordinary thing about this man. When I looked to see who it was who was standing in front of me, I was shocked to see that the man’s face was not the face of a man at all, but of a sinister looking cat, grinning at me while chomping on a large cigar. And on top of his head, as if to accent the queerness of his appearance, he wore a black hat with a red band, and red flower sticking out it. I sat back in my couch, thinking I had reached that point that many hard-drinkers reach. I was hallucinating. No such luck monkey boy, I’m as real as that beer bottle in your hand.
I was startled. The creature had read my mind, how?
It’s a little trick I was taught by my dear old mother. She taught me lots of tricks, like this one. The creature snapped its fingers and it faded from view. It’s a doozy, isn’t it? I heard its voice, but couldn’t see it. Then it popped back into view, but it was now sitting on the couch next to me. I was losing my wits. I jumped off the couch and ran for the front door. But when I got there the creature was leaning against it. Now, now chum, we’ve no time for silly games. I’ve got important business to conduct here. He took me by the arm and led me back into the living room. Have a seat my boy, and pay attention.
What do you want from me?
Nothing. There’s nothing that you have that I want. Now stop trying to bribe Ol’ Shamus and let’s get down to business, shall we?
I was shaking. I reached for my beer bottle, but when I grasped for it, it disappeared.
None of that, I need you clear headed and sober. However, I could use a Scotch. Do you have any Scotch lying around the house?
I couldn’t believe what was going on; my mind was coming apart at the seams.
Dazed and confused. Typical primate. Well I’ll just have a look see before we get started. Shamus rummaged through the kitchen, and dining room, finally coming on my stash of alcohol. Well, what have we here? A veritable treasure trove of tasty spirits and delectable liquors. You could haunt a house with all these spirits. He started whistling. Ah, the Scotch. He brought the bottle over to the couch and plopped down beside me. He opened it and waved it under his nose. Heavenly. Absolutely Heavenly. Don’t you think monkey? He waved the bottle under my nose. The smell of the drink caused my mouth to water. Oh boy, you’ve got it bad don’t you?
I drink a little. I said sheepishly.
A little? By Jove and all that’s holy monkey-boy, you’re a champion drunkard by my calculations.
I am not. I shouted.
Denial. Isn’t that the first sign of a problem? Ha Ha.
Why are you here?
Oh right, good question. Shamus took three swigs of the Scotch and then placed the bottle on the table right in front of me. Now don’t touch it or I’ll make your hands vanish. He removed his hat from his head, and resting on the crown of his feline scalp was a little book. He took it from its perch and restored the hat to its resting place on top of his head. The giant cat thumbed through the book for several minutes; he tossed the pages back and forth as if he couldn’t find what he was looking for, and then: Eureka!
What is it?
It’s an exclamation of excitement of a profound discovery. It’s Greek I think.
No. I mean, what have you found?
Oh, right. Well it says here, you have some important business to accomplish my boy, and I’m here to make sure that you accomplish it. He threw the book aside and it vanished in midair.
What do I have to do?
Sorry old chum, that’s not my department.
I don’t understand any of this.
Of course you don’t, you have a pea-sized brain. You baboons are all the same, you think highly of yourselves, but you’re really just a bunch of superstitious monkeys. It’s a wonder you haven’t destroyed yourselves yet, although my boy, you are well on your way to destroying yourself.
No I’m not, I’m fine.
Oh really? Is that why I found you sitting on your couch, ready to drown your woes in booze? What’s that in your hand?
What? I pretended not to know that he meant the letter from my wife.
Don’t play games with me, I’m not the sort you trifle with; the letter, hand it over.
No, I won’t, it’s private.
Have it your way silly monkey. Oh wait what’s this? Shamus leaned towards me. I didn’t realize just how enormous he was until he got close. He reached into my ear and pulled out a piece of paper.
Hey, what are you crazy? I shouted as I clutched my ear. It was then I realized that there was something different. My hand was empty. I opened it and saw the letter wasn’t there. What? How?
Full of questions today, aren’t you. It’s just another little trick mother taught me to deal with stubborn lushes like you. He unwrinkled the letter and read it. Well this is just the saddest thing I’ve ever read.
I know, she left and is gone for good.
No, I mean the grammar and the syntax are horrible. Maybe you’re better off without such a poor letter writer.
What? No, I love my wife.
Really? According to this, you loved beer more.
That’s not fair?
Why not? Because you wish it weren’t so? You can’t pretend that what isn’t, is; or what is, isn’t. You can only accept what is, monkey brain. Fact: Your wife left you. Fact: You’re a drunk. Fact: You’re alone on a couch speaking to a six foot seven inch cigar-smoking talking cat. Now, you tell me, does that sound like love to you?
I can’t help it.
You can’t help what, being a loser sitting on a couch drowning in beer?
Why are you being so cruel?
Cruel, hmmm, that’s one of the few words your wife spelled correctly in her letter. Let’s read what she wrote, shall we? I quote, “Your mood has gotten worse, I’m afraid for me and the kids. You’re so cruel. How can you be so cruel?” It’s a real tear jerker.
I’d never hurt the kids, or my wife.
Oh no, then what made her leave?
I…I don’t know.
You don’t, but she does. “I can’t take it how you’re hurting us. I don’t know you anymore.” I admit it’s a bit dramatic, but it says it all right here in black and white pea brain.
I don’t know what to do.
Most people don’t. You just choose to hide your ignorance in a bottle.
I started to weep. The whole situation was overwhelming.
It’s always the same with you primates. You cause misery for yourselves then you fall into self-pity. It’s sick and perverted if you ask me. You make choices and then you can’t live with the results. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
I wiped the tears from my eyes, but they kept coming. What am I supposed to do Shamus? She’s left me. I can’t get her back.
Wake up dolt, don’t you get it. She didn’t leave you, she left your drinking.
But, I can’t stop.
Not with that attitude you can’t. Look at you, sitting there on a couch sulking because your wife and kids left you because of your weakness. Where’s the strength in you? Where’s the man?
I’m a man. I said halfheartedly.
Bah! You call yourself a man. You’re a spineless sack of mud. Look at your posture. Look at the way you sink into that couch, as if it were going to protect you from reality. What are you afraid of my boy?
Afraid? I’m afraid of everything.
And that’s why you lost everything that ever mattered to you. Women and children don’t need their husbands and fathers to be fearful, spineless jellyfish. They need your strength. They need your resilience. They need you to bounce back from failure stronger and wiser. You encounter little obstacles and turn them into raging rivers, insurmountable mountains, and impassable deserts. It’s no wonder your species hasn’t left this planet yet, you’re too afraid.
I sobbed uncontrollably.
And now, the water works. Just once I’d like one of you baboons to stand up and prove that everything I say isn’t true. But I guess you aren’t the one.
I waved Shamus off, indicating that I had had enough. I put my head in my hands and cried for what seemed like hours. When I regained my composure, I looked up to find Shamus gone. I was exhausted. I went upstairs to bed and fell asleep.