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By Laura Cella
My husband Jamie’s job as the CEO of a movie studio came with quite a few social, business, and political obligations. While these events were always glamorous, they were usually not a lot of fun. Well, not a lot of fun for me. Jamie networked and schmoozed and worked the room all night while I perched somewhere with a glass of Pellegrino and watched the Beautiful People in their native habitat. People seldom spoke to me; because I wasn’t in The Business I was all but invisible. Oh every once in a while someone would smile benignly or compliment my outfit, but generally I was thoroughly ignored.
On my sixteenth birthday, I received a most curious, wonderful gift from my neighbor, Adriano. He gave me guardianship of a wise, wish-granting counselor. The counselor was only 36” tall and immeasurably handsome, with glowing features, blonde hair rolling across his forehead as if without a care in the world, and a sparkly gold tan to his flesh. He always wore perfectly-tailored gray velvet trousers and jacket, with a living violet, which never withered, flourishing on the lapel. He spent most of the day in meditation on my mantelpiece, but when I returned home from my long, bitter days as a slave in the factory, he would spring up to greet me and give me all sorts of wise bits of advice and predictions, and occasionally grant me wishes. All he required for sustenance were four peas per day — simple, ordinary peas, the kind that grow everywhere in the countryside, even out of cracks in the sidewalk. By the power of his perfectly accomplished meditation, my counselor was able to subsist endlessly on this grub, only growing lovelier and wiser with each passing year, and never aging a day. He required feeding at the moments the sun made pivotal transformations in the sky, one pea each at sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight. Such was my devotion to my precious counselor that no matter the circumstances, I happily forced myself to his service, returning home from the factory at dawn and noon, and tearing myself out of bed at midnight each day to feed him.
By Laura Cella
New York has some pretty big rats. (I mean the ones waddling along the stone walls of the Park at night, not the ones showing up on the front page of the Post.) When my husband took a job running a Hollywood film production facility I presumed we had left New York’s rats, pigeons, cockroaches, waterbugs, and the rest of the gritty zoologica behind; we were going to live in ocean-fresh Santa Monica with California brown pelicans and Pacific spinner dolphins just outside our door. It never occurred to me that rats would also share our So Cal paradise until our neighbor, Debbie, told me how relieved she was that Jean Pierre, another neighbor, was having his twenty-foot tall Washingtonia filifera palms pruned. Not understanding, I asked why. “Ask the tree guy when he gets here” she replied knowingly.
By Rachel Artenian
This tale of woe I must relate
To save an innocent from my fate
Concerning a cat that is totally ruthless,
Penny the cat, who is practically toothless
By Rachel Artenian
Meow, meow, mew, mew, nibble, nip, coo.
Psst, Gwendolyn, is that working for you?
Purrrrr, play, leap, scratch, paddle, wriggle my rear
Cecily, I don’t think anyone knows that we’re here.
There’s a new cat in town; nothing’s the same
He makes us so mad; Punim’s his name
They kiss him and coddle him and bedeck him with jewels
They fête him with sushi; he follows no rules.
We owned this house before he arrived
We strutted and feasted and both of us thrived
Now, no more kisses, no more creamed caviar
Punim, the prince, is the one shining star
by Barry Allen Herzog
During late afternoons in November the sun would glide across the metal-coated building behind Howard Abrams’ office and cast a smear of copper on the wall opposite his desk. The smear would slide up slowly, melting, until it met the ceiling, bent and oozed inexorably in his direction.
The sun always set before it reached him.
By then the secretaries outside his door would be ending the tasks they had worked on since lunch and would be straightening their desk tops for tomorrow. Pleadings would whir through copy machines to be collated, stapled, affixed to blue construction paper and attached to forms directing the messenger service where they should be filed the next day in court.
Abrams heard Martha take out her purse and remove the top of her lipstick with the little popping noise it always made. He pictured her sliding the red gloss carefully along her upper lip while he stared at piles of manila folders scattered on the floor, file cabinets and chairs around him.
The intercom on his desk phone buzzed, insistent and shrill. He touched the ‘receive’ button.
The voice of the new receptionist came out metallic, thin. “Your five o’clock is here.”