Saturday, March 13, 2021

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Enter The Ninth Circle Part 9

The next thing I know, I am standing in front of a door that has a “Do Not Enter” sign on it.  Underneath is a hand-written notation that adds the words, “Fuck Off”!  I’m guessing this is in case you missed the first message. How did I get here? 

Only moments ago that buzzer sounded and everyone at the bar had jumped into action. Don immediately took an old bedside tray from behind the bar and on it he placed a clean empty mason jar, a mason jar filled with water, two jars of baby food and a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. He hands me the tray, points to the door next to the stairs, and tells me to go stand there. When I do, he pushes a buzzer and signals for me to push the door open. I go through the door, but block it open with my foot. I look back at Don pleadingly. He laughs and says, “You’ll know when you get there,” as if he already knows the question I’m asking. Then he makes the sign of the cross and laughs. I glare at him.

Behind me in the dim lighting I can see a staircase; there is no where else to go but up. With my knees knocking, I find it hard to steady the tray as I climb the stairs. On the second landing there is a bathroom that has a sliding door and a sign stating that it is the “Employee Only Bathroom.” 

At the end of the hall is the business office. The door is slightly open and I can hear the sound of a far off television set. I look in and see no one in the room, so I continue my climb.

On the third floor I come to the door with the “
Do Not Enter—Fuck Off!” sign on it. I hold my breath. There is nowhere else to go. Lifting my knee, I balance the tray and I knock. I hear nothing, so I knock again. Again, there is no answer, so I reach out and turn the knob. I am not prepared for what I see, or worse, what I smell. 

 

The first thing I smell is cats. My guess is maybe a hundred cats live here. Pushing open the door, I can see that there are cats, all right. Cats are everywhere. There are cats sitting on the table, cats on the fridge, cats on the floor, and cats on the windowsill. 

 

There are thousands of mason jars everywhere. The jars are all half-filled or overflowing with a yellow liquid. The mason jars take up every single inch of free space there is. That is, if you ignore all the newspapers and the overflowing ashtrays strewn in between. The heat in the apartment is overbearing. All the windows are closed and steamed up.

I resist the urge to vomit. “
Hello?” I call out, feeling like I am in the movie The Last House On the Left. I receive no answer, so I call out again, “Hello?” 

 

A voice that sounds like it is spoken through rotting leaves answers me from another room. “Who the fuck are you?” it says. 

 

I look down as a cat wraps itself around my ankles.

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