A Little Man Roaring Like a Lion

By Jack Pendarvis

 

At night I double check to make sure the… front and back doors are locked. The kitchen is dark and I shine a flashlight on the… doorknob. And then I shine it out the back door window to see if any of the feral cats are roosting there for the evening. They like to use this as a flophouse, our back porch.

[Long pause.]

So I’m shining the flashlight through the back window and I see one of the cats curled up on its mat, and it’s, uh, curled up in a weird way, hiding its head. It looks like a circle, the cat does. And I think [laughter], “Do I see… do I see…” And I’m sure I’m not wearing my glasses.

But the cat looks like it’s all curled up in a circle. I can’t tell where its head is and where its tail is. I can’t distinguish parts of the ca—usually I can. This is unusual. And I see in the center: is that an eye just staring up at me without blinking, like a… [sigh] sinister orb? [Laughter.]

And, uh, there appears… and the more I stare at whatever I’m staring at, which might be the bottom of the cat’s paw. I’m not sure. [Throat clearing.] But at the time, it definitely had the quality of… a mysterious, singular eye in the center of a circle.

Okay! So…

Am I hallucinating? Would you call that a hallucination or would you call it just a… a product of… what is the word for that? When… [sigh] you know, your eyes are not… good. Poor vision.

So…

You know, you can’t see… you can’t go around seeing omens and portents. You’re not a… there’s no… there are no soothsayers. And if there were, you wouldn’t be one of them.

Luckily, Anastasia got up and I said, “Look at… look at Fredo! Does she look all right to you?” And Anastasia looked at her and said, “Yeah.” So. That was calming.

I thought there was something wrong with her at the very least. I really didn’t think she had turned into a… uh… some sort of… disc with an eye in the center of it! [Laughter.] But I thought, “Is her head twisted around in a strange way?” You know.

[Long pause.]

I remember…

I remember when our friend Chantal was dating one of two… she dated two different guys named Big Mike. How many people do you know who have dated not one but two guys called Big Mike?

[Breathing. Walking.]

And we were in Chicago. This must have been 2002.

[Sigh.]

We thought things were crazy then.

Well, we’re visiting—we ate a spaghetti dinner at some sort of… I wanna say it was like a… it wasn’t a [laughter] VFW hall! It was some big… i—it didn’t seem like a restaurant. I can’t remember what sort of… uhm… what sort of… place was serving up spaghetti dinners. I don’t think it was a restaurant.

And we were there with Big Mike and he told us about his aunt… who, and this, I don’t—why is this story so vivid to me?

Was it his grandmother or his aunt? Maybe it was his grandmother.

In any case, an older relative. And she… told him that there’s a little man roaring at her in the bathroom. And… she imitated it. And I can still see… and this can’t come across as well as I would like it to: he made the face that his, that his grandmother made.

“He’s roaring at…! There’s a little man and he’s roaring at me like a lion!”

And then she would roar and twist her face up in this kind of… uh… grimace.

[Sigh.]

And, uh, he went into the bathroom and looked and there was a leaf caught in a spider web in the corner of the… you know, between the screen and the window, the bathroom window. There was a… a leaf caught in a spider web and it was… a breeze was… moving it back and forth, so it was kind of twitching in the spider web. And he could imagine and see how it would be like a little man roaring. How… it would look like that to her.

I don’t know what I’m saying, really.

I don’t think… I don’t think it’s a privilege to believe you see a little man roaring at you in the corner of your bathroom window. I think that would be a life of constant, amped-up terror and adrenaline, a… an electrified life, which m—might sound preferable to… [long pause].

I remember a few gauzy atheists who say things like, “Isn’t the beauty of a sunset enough?” No, not really.

I was just going to say that maybe the few thrills we get in life come from our misperceptions.


Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time.