October 24, 2002

Tela & Cheese Sandwich

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2002

Angela’s cats hated me. Both of the twin Siamese hell cats. If it wasn’t one sly fucker or the other, it was both. I knew they scornfully talked about me when I wasn’t in the apartment, or plotted against me while I slept. I abruptly invaded their territory and moved in, slept with their queen and they were super pissed. They hate me.

"If they do," Angela replied, defending her beloved two cats, "It’s because you almost killed Tela."

OK. True. I almost killed her cat. Almost. Stress almost. But the reality was simple: Tela is alive and breathing and still plotting against me.

Late one night, unknown to me, one of her Siamese cats crawled into bed with us, which was the key factor in the so-called attempted feline-icide. Usually her cats were in one of two places in the bedroom: Reba in the closet or Tela under her bed. Tela rarely left her favorite spot under the bed, only for the rare stroll around the apartment. I nicknamed her Saligner, because she smugly behaved like one of my favorite writers, J.D. Salinger, the mysterious recluse, never seen in public.

So, lovely little Tela never left her pastoral spot aside to piss or shit and to eat. Other than the basics, you would never see her. For the longest time I was convinced that there weren’t two cats, but just one, because I never saw them at the same time, in the same room.

Alas, as the story goes, I couldn’t sleep on this particular humid night. Angela was curled up in a little ball on her side of the bed and I positioned myself a few inches from her head and face and brushed aside her hair so I could watch her slowly breathe and dream in the faint, sensual Texas moonlight. I was wondering what occupied her other world, and then I heard a scratching sound against the door. A few moments later the scratching stopped and I swore I saw Tela scurry underneath the bed.

I continued to watch Angela’s closed eyes move back and forth, a sure sign she was dreaming about something. I must have been doing this for a long time, because my arm fell asleep. I tired to shake it off, but to no avail. Not wanting to wake Angela, I decided to get up, and rolled back over to my side of the bed. I felt something under my back and assumed it was the pillow, until I heard a screeching sound, followed by a burning sensation in my lower back, and another scream.

"Fuck!" I yelled, trying to wiggle off of whatever I was lying on. It was Tela and her tail was stuck and she kept scratching and biting me until she could break free. When she did she pounced off the bed. By this time Angela had woken up and she could hear both her cats screaming and fussing. Reba, who had been under the bed came out and joined in the hysterics, as Tela hissed and growled at me.

"What happened, McGrupp?"

"Nothing, I just rolled over and there was Tela. What the fuck was she doing on the bed?"

Angela got up and both cats darted under the bed. She opened all the lights in her room and got on the floor to try to convince her cats to come out. They refused to budge.

I went into the bathroom to inspect my wounds. I was met by our half-baked, half-naked roommate Katie, who was holding a bag of Doritos in one hand and the TV remote control in the other. She was wearing nothing underneath an extra small sized Aggies T-shirt, which I pleasantly noticed in the bathroom mirror, before turning on the faucet.

"What happened? I heard all this screaming!" she inquired in between chips.

I glanced in the mirror and I saw Katie’s surprised expression.

"Holy Kansas!" she yelled, “That’s a wicked cut!”

There were at least four or five little bites with the skin broken in all of the wounds, which peppered my back. That wasn’t the worst of it. A five-inch long gash was bleeding, and that was in the middle of two thinner, yet equally painful claw scratches.

Disgusted, Katie ran out and I could hear arguing in the hallway.

"But he almost killed Tela!" Angela yelled in her now enraged Texas twang.

She walked into the bathroom and saw me trying to wash out the cuts and scratches.

"Holy Kansas, McGrupp! My goodness, Lil' Tela did that to you?"

"Not at all, my little angel, it was the fuckin’ sabre-tooth tiger in front of Whataburger who decided to remove the majority of the outer layer of my skin from my back!"

Angela stormed out of the bathroom, and tried to call her mother, a nurse, but her Mom wasn’t picking up the phone. As Katie got dressed, she offered to take me to the ER as soon as she got a picture. She quickly found her camera and asked me to pull up my shirt.

"Now say, ‘CHEESE’!"

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from NYC.

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