The Lucky Cat

     The Surgeon was wearing a tan cotton summer suit and his pale pink necktie had a tiny image of a Japanese Lucky Cat on it near the bottom.

 
       “Where did you get that tie?  I like it!  I like the lucky cat.” I said.  He is a lucky cat. 

        He shucked his suit coat and hung it on the coat rack by my door.  My eyes moved to his hips, back up to his face, and then to his hips again.  He looked thinner than I remembered.  Thinner.  

      “I make my own luck.  I bought it in San Francisco.  Where I was when you called in the middle of the night from that bar.  What am I going to do with you?”

       “I am here for you.”  

       “You’re not getting away with it that easily.”  The necktie came off and was draped over the suit coat.  Then he took a syringe out of his bag and walked over to the refrigerator.  He placed it carefully on the top shelf.  Something for later.  

      He picked up the Brita filter and poured himself a glass of water.  I wondered what it must be like, to be able to just go through other people’s stuff like it was yours.  At the Studio, you learn how to feign confidence and entitlement–fake it till you make it, I always tell the new girls.  Sort of like teaching.    

      The Surgeon doesn’t fake it. 
   
      “Surgeon, you’re very lean.  Are you okay?”  I had to say something. He still had muscle and sinew on him–he gets up at 4 AM and exercises like a deranged, frantic hamster in a wheel, which isn’t too far from the truth–but he was only ten or fifteen pounds away from being gaunt.  Men his age seldom look like this naturally.

      “I’m not sure.  I thought I was, but then my girlfriend broke up with me, and suddenly I had a lot to worry about.”  

       I didn’t know what to say to that. 

       “I was very worried about you.”  The cufflinks went into his pants pocket, and then he started to roll up his shirtsleeves. His speech became slower; his voice more thoughtful.  “Why do you make me worry about you?”

        I thought of the things he’d hid around my apartment and felt my skin break out in gooseflesh.  I’d intended to ask him why he’d done that, and when–that question had eaten away at me for months–but I suddenly lost the courage.  I didn’t want to know the answer.  

                                 *                             *                             *

       Before he left: 

       “You know that I think you’re a beautiful woman,” he said, adjusting the knot on the lucky cat tie.  “But you need to lose fifteen pounds.  You’ll be prettier.  As you were last Fall.”  

        I winced inside, but kept my face neutral.  I knew this was coming.  Last Fall, I weighed 110 lbs.  I am as tall as a man. 

      “Okay.” 

      He looked right at me.  His voice was serious. “Lose it.”

      “I will.”

      He smiled.  Normalcy had been returned.

      Everything was right with the world again. 


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