Fiction, Musings

Public Health Administration


Two kids stood in the hall just outside my apartment door, staring up at my neighbor’s  door knocker. They seemed totally pre-occupied by the shape but as a third boy arrived with a Rubbermaid step-stool, I realized mischief was afoot. I continued to stare at them through my peephole, convinced they were up to no good. As they attempted to look through my neighbor’s peephole, I realize they were having a hard time getting the view they so desired. One of the boys reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a small goldfish. He stooped down next to the stool and slid the dead, slimy mass near the bottom of the door.

“He’s never gonna smell that,” one of the boys said as they continued their pursuit. I carefully opened my door, trying not to be noticed by the boys.  Pilates is amazing, I thought as I lowered my body so close to the floor a snake couldn’t have done better.  Just as I got close enough to reach out to grab the slimy creature that now lay dead before me, one of the boys yelled. “What the fuck!” I grabbed his leg instead.

“What are you idiots doing? Get that damn thing out of my floor; we could all catch pneumonia.”

“You can’t get pneumonia from a dead fish, Ms. Pugh.” The kid jerked his pant leg from my grip. I got up from the floor, straightened the doormat that I’d recently purchased at The Dollar General and got right up in the littlest kid’s face.  “What are you doing at that door!”  They were all scared now.  Everyone in the building was aware of my reputation. I’ll kill a kid if it means keeping my building safe.  I’ve slapped quite a few; even went to court for jacking some kid up in the stairwell after he stuck gum on a railing. They are the germiest little freaks God ever put on this earth. “That guy’s cat has a dead rabbit in there,” one of the kids said.  “What?”  The kids looked serious. “We don’t know where he got it but he’s got a dead rabbit in his mouth. And that man just let him go in there with it; he wasn’t yelling or nothing.” By now the older boy was picking up his step-stool, ready to go cause trouble someplace else.  “A dead rabbit, in my building. Those things cause rodents to come around.”  I removed a packet of Kleenex which I always had in my pocket and gave it to one of the boys. “You make sure you clean up every bit of that thing,” I said, motioning toward the scaly demon on the floor. “You kids go home. I’ll take care of Mr. Douglas’s cat.”

When I was sure the kids were a safe distance from my wrath, I pounded on my neighbor’s door.  When he didn’t open up right away, I pounded again.  A very startled young man appeared at the door.  it was obvious from the hint of drool on the side of his mouth that he’s been sleeping.  “Yes! What is it?” Mr. Douglas, in his cotton pajama bottoms, bare feet , and wife beater  looked as if he wanted to hit somebody.  They’re all such angry people, I thought. Damn Marines. “Mr. Douglas, you cannot have a dead animal in your apartment.” I tapped my pumps on his doormat to let him know I meant business.

“What,” he said. “What dead animal?”  Okay I guess he wants to take the ignorance route. “Your cat took a dead rabbit into that apartment and they cause disease.” Mr. Douglas adjusted the shoulder of his undershirt. His muscular frame was bathed in a caramel skin, his teeth white like rice but I couldn’t be distracted.  “My cat doesn’t play with dead animals, Ms. Pugh and even if he did, he wouldn’t be bringing it in here. I’ve actually got to drive eight hours tomorrow so you’ll have to excuse me.” He stepped back, smiled slightly, and slammed the door.  I waited a few minutes then I tried to look through his peephole.  I couldn’t see his cat anywhere. I couldn’t waste time hunting for the little killer. I had a date I was meeting at the bar.  I’d deal with that cat tomorrow.

My date didn’t go so well, what I remember of it.  Prentice Price wasn’t so much into the ladies.  I should’ve know that by his on-line profile, “lonely pirate seeks first mate.” Whatever! I don’t remember how I got home but I do remember falling on my sofa, unable to see straight. I was awakened by the distinct sound of scratching on my door. It wasn’t the kind of scratching that men do when they’ve reconsidered if they want to fuck you. It was the kind of scratching that was deafening if you needed to get some sleep.  I followed the sound of the scratching in total darkness, stopping just short of my front door.  I peeked out to see if anyone was around. Sometimes criminals get real creative when the economy’s bad. When I was sure the hallway was empty, I opened my door to find the source of my pain scratching on my neighbor’s door. What’s that he’s got, I thought as I watched my neighbor’s cat trying to get into the apartment.  “That’s a rabbit,”I whispered.  I quickly closed my door and searched for my slippers.  I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t remember where my clothes were.  I ran back to the door.  I looked through my peephole to see what that cat was doing with that rabbit.  Just then, Mr. Douglas, all naked and happy opened his door.  He stood there, stark naked, goods hanging every which way, chewing on a bone. He kneeled down next to his cat. “You are my dog,” he said to the cat, grinning from ear to ear. Mr. Douglas removed the dead rabbit from the cat’s mouth. He examined it as if  it held some secret treasure. “You have this one; I can’t eat anymore,” he said as he placed the dead rodent near his cat’s feet.  The cat picked up the rabbit and he and Mr. Douglas went inside the apartment.  That’s some sick shit, I thought as I ran to my bathroom.  I would spend the rest of the night hugging my toilet.

For two weeks I followed the same routine and so did that cat. I’d come home after a date or lack thereof, fall asleep on my couch, and awake to the sound of that cat scratching at my neighbor’s door. I begged Mr. Douglas to stop letting the cat bring in dead rabbits. I even left articles in his mailbox about the plague and other public health issues.  He didn’t care.  He just let that serial killer bring him rabbits night after night like it was room service.  Some nights I would see blood dropping from that cat’s mouth.  I started scrubbing the floor outside my apartment daily.  I even informed the leasing office that Mr. Douglas was keeping a wild animal in his apartment but they didn’t seem troubled by it. They actually sent me a notice about harassment.  I had to take matters into my own hands.  Relocating the hairy, multi-colored feline wouldn’t do.  Cat’s are so damn arrogant.  They don’t have the humility to know when they’ve been evicted.  That cat’s was gonna get it and I’m gonna give it to him.

I closed down my online dating account.  As far as I’m concerned, men are just finding new venues for rejecting women who are too much for them.  What they don’t realize is, no matter where they go, there they are and no woman is gonna screw a loser just because he’s in a different chat room today than he was yesterday. Besides, I’m getting a little tired of sharing my Goose. I drink alone.  Tonight I had different plans.  When that fur ball goes out to hunt, he will become the hunted.  I poured myself a few drinks and then a few more and I waited.

I heard it. My neighbor’s door. He’s letting that dirty predator out so he can get them a little late night snack.  I grabbed my thirty-two caliber from my night stand. I always keep it there in case some fool doesn’t understand when I’m out of condoms. I waited just long enough to be sure Mr. Douglas was safely out of ear shot.  I slid my lean frame down to the floor and crawled out my door like a lion in hot pursuit.  I followed killer cat outside.  He stopped a few times to sniff this and that.  I can only imagine how many germs he’s dragged into my building. I had a cold last month. I never get colds. This little germ toad has been bringing God knows what into my home, where I eat, sleep, and bathe.  My toilet could be crawling with malaria because of this cat’s irresponsible behavior.  I was consumed with the idea that millions of germs had to be airborne in my building by now.  We’d never get them all out. No one was concerned; my health and the health of my neighbors was at risk.

“What the hell did you do?” I heard a familiar voice calling down the alley where I now stood. “What did you do, you drunk bitch!”  I looked at Mr. Douglas. He was now running towards me.  I felt threatened. He looked so angry.  Is he going to kill me, I thought as I struggled to make out what he was saying.  I’ve often heard that soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome and can really go crazy.  He wasn’t stopping either.  He’s gonna kill me.  I raised my gun and fired two shots. One hit Mr. Douglas in the chest, the other in the face.  I lay the gun on top of the dead cat, blood running down the side of the trashcan where I’d found him hunting for prey. They’ll give me some sort of award for this, I thought. and then things went black.

The officer who put me in handcuffs said Mr. Douglas was dead.  At least four different people, all official looking asked me what happened.  “That cat was bringing disease into my building, dead rabbits.”  Some of the policemen were laughing. They kept saying there were no rabbits running around Abbotston Street in a city our size.  The two little boys from my building stood a few feet from where I was sitting in the police car.  “Tell them about those rabbits,” I said.  One of the boys was hugging his mom around her waist.  I’d seen her a few times; she was pretty dirty.  the other boy got closer to the police car and shook his head.  We aint’ really see no rabbit, Ms. Pugh. We were just playing with you. We just wanted to see his cat. His cat was the only pet in the building.

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