While cooking breakfast, Walter wondered how people had gotten names so right for each thing that got named. Cat, for example. Walter couldn’t think of anything that was more cat-like than his cat, currently sitting at attention and watching Walter cook bacon with soft eyes. If his cat had been dog or worse, vacuum, then the whole order of things would be off. Nothing would make sense, as much as anyone tried. But the naming people had gotten things perfectly right. His cat was a cat. It fit the universe so well. It pleased Walter, the good job naming people had done. Walter always appreciated a good job. However, Walter wasn’t presently doing a good job. He had abandoned the frying pan filled with bacon and eggs to pat his cat on the head, congratulating the cat for being so aptly named. That’s a good cat, Walter said. Walter’s cat wagged its tail. The pan on the stove caught fire. Walter’s cat ran away. Walter cocked his head and watch the animal flee. What a funny creature his cat was! Always running away for no particular reason. Walter sighed with the pleasure that his cat being cat-like gave him. Walll-terrrr!!! Walter’s mother yelled down the stairs as she prepared herself for another day at the office. She too had done a good job naming things because she liked to yell and Walter’s was an almost perfect name to be screamed. The hard T allowed her to impart a great deal of force while vocalizing the second syllable. Walter! I smell burning! It was true, Walter’s mother did smell burning. She had a terrific sense of smell, a trait which Walter had not inherited. Walter was practically smell-blind. He burnt breakfast quite often. Walter snuffed the skillet and set a clean pan onto the stove. Put more bacon in. Olfactory, Walter thought to himself. Now that was a word he did not understand. Walter said it out loud slowly: ol-fact-or-y. What’s that Walter? His mother had descended the stairs and was nearing the kitchen. I said olfactory, mother. Water kept his attention pinned directly to the new pan, bacon beginning to sizzle. Now why would you just say a word like that? You been thinking about words again, Walter? I told you not to do that, that’s how you burnt breakfast yesterday. No, no mother. I was just petting the cat. The cat was nowhere in sight. Walter’s mother knew her son had been thinking about words again. You want a word to think about? Ass-whooping. You think about that one long and hard. With that, Walter’s mother turned and returned upstairs to finish reviewing her first client’s case report. Walter thought that ass-whooping was actually two words but chose not to clarify. His life frequently lacked clarity. Except with the names of things. Those were always quite clear. Walter cracked four eggs into the pan beside the bacon and his cat made its meek reappearance, whimpering softly. The cat cocked its head and emitted a quizzical plea. Walter ignored it and turned back to the frying pan. The cat however refused to be ignored. It stood on its hind legs, throwing paws around Walter’s shoulders, and began a heavy sort of humping. Walter turned, trying to shake the animal, but only succeeded in opening himself to a barrage of sloppy kisses. He began sputtering through the slobber running down his face. No! Down! Bad cat! That’s a bad cat!
Patrick Brogan has one sibling, Claire, who is absolutely not a writer. He lives in Portland, Oregon and can be found avoiding employment at all costs. Houston holds a special place in his heart because of its vast urban sprawl, humidity, and end-of-days deluges. If you were to describe his writing, it would be.