Exercise #174 : The Man & His Cat
You see an odd-looking man in a bar in a strange town. He has a cat on his lap, and he orders a cup of coffee, slowly spooning sugar into it. He strokes the cat's black fur and says, "This contact is illusory. The cat and I are separated as though by a pane of glass, because man lives in time, in successiveness, while the magical animal lives in the present, in the eternity of the instant." What do you say back to him? And he to you? What does the cat do? What happened to this man before he came into the bar?
|Not quite a black cat, but close enough...|
"What?" I ask.
The man's eyes focus on my face. They are a clear, crystal blue, light enough to appear unnatural.
"Hello," he says, "What's your name?"
"Philip J. Berkowitz," he says in a crisp, British accent while extending his right hand. His left hand lays gently atop his cat's haunches. "Lovely to meet you." I can't help but wonder what this man is doing in a bar... with a cat.
"Right." Unsure if I actually want to get into a philosophical debate with someone I just met, I hesitantly ask, "Are you a philosopher or something?"
"No, not quite. Philosophy student."
"And who is this?" I reach out for the purring cat in his lap, and he stops me, lightly placing his free hand on my wrist.
"This is Baruch," he said, smiling. "I'm afraid he's a bit testy with anyone other than me." The hair on the back of Baruch's neck bristles slightly, but when I move away he seems to relax.
"Sorry, I sometimes get a little too excited when I see animals." The redness intensifying on my cheeks grows quickly to engulf my whole face. There is something so penetrating about his cool blue eyes, and it makes me nervous.
"No need to be sorry. Baruch here just doesn't deal well with strangers."
Aching to change the topic, I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. "So what are you doing here? You don't really fit in with the rest of the patrons."
"Neither do you," he says quickly. "Does that mean you have to have a reason to be here as well?"
"I guess." I absentmindedly tap on the bar counter. He doesn't need to know why I'm here.
"And... that's really none of your business." I regret saying it the minute it escapes from my mouth, but it's already been said. I can't take it back. Trying to hide my remorse, I look downward at the scarred, wooden floor.
"I see." A few awkward moments pass between us, but he breaks the silence with a warm smile. "I'm lost, actually."
"Yes. I was on my way to a convention somewhere around here, but I got completely turned around and haven't been able to turn myself aright since."
"Well, where were you headed?"
"I can't remember."
5 minutes up.
And that's that. What did you come up with?