No Good Deed… – Art Lasky & Ben Umayam
Art Lasky’s part of story:
He stands naked before the open refrigerator in the dark kitchen, downing the last of the milk in a half-gallon carton. He likes how the soft fridge-light flatters his relatively taut belly and long runner's legs. Although not to kid himself, he’s a few thousand crunches short of a full six-pack. He scratches his balls thoughtfully, before crushing the container and taking a 3-pointer into the garbage pail.
Though alone, he shouts, “not even close.”
He loudly sucks his teeth, a show of disappointment, when his follow-up slam-dunk also misses.
“Well, the Knicks won't be calling anytime soon."
He returns to the bedroom and un-pauses the Twilight Zone marathon.
Burgess Meredith has just discovered a library, books intact despite the world ending.
The phone intrudes, he grabs it on the third ring.
“Talk! … Well, it’s two in the fucking morning, be glad I picked up.… If you don’t like how I answer, don’t call.”
He studies himself in the mirror as he listens, dark hair, receding hairline (the family curse, early baldness), eyes unremarkably brown, he’d always envied Daniel Craig’s piercing blue.
“Why should I care if Cat’s missing; you dumped me weeks ago… I don’t care. Why don’t you get Mr. Wonderful to go look for her?...’He left you’ sounds like your problem, not mine…I don’t care…Do me a favor, lose my number, Goodbye.”
Jabbing the end-call button he settles back on the bed.
He gets up, dresses quickly.
Burgess Meredith is holding his smashed eyeglasses crying, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”
Shutting the TV, he heads out into the night.
“Damn Cat, you’re a fucking alley cat, find an alley, why do you always run to the park?” He complains to the empty street.
How lacking in imagination do you have to be to name your cat, Cat?
Last time she ran away, he found her in the bushes on the south side of Tavern on the Green.
Entering the park at West 65th street, he starts to follow the road that curves around Tavern. “Here cat, here puss, puss, puss.”
There’s a sound off to the right, underneath the arch; it’s all shadows, and dark.
“Cat is that you?”
He turns onto the path that dips toward the looming maw of the archway. He can no longer see the street. Nothing moves in the blackness ahead.
“Cat, is that you?” Damn, why don't I have a flashlight app on my phone?
The sound again, a scrabbling.
Two eyes appear in the inky nothingness. “Too high to be the damn cat, unless she’s on a ledge… Shit, Cat’s eyes don’t glow red. There’s a growl too loud and too deep for Cat, he can feel the noise vibrating in his bones.
“You’re not Cat, are you?”
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Ben Umayan’s Tag-in…
Suddenly his phone works as a flashlight. Was some new software wirelessly added making it smarter? He is not intimidated by the growl, circus acts are in his genes, some Eastern European uncle trained wild animals. He points at the inky nothingness.
It’s a man in a cat suit, looking like Julie Newmar’s Catwoman in the Batman series. Only this outfit is manly.
“What the hell are you supposed to be?”
The monster’s glowing red eyes soften. He pulls the colored contact lenses out. He rubs his eyes. “You don’t recognize me? It’s me, Cat. They neutered me. They pulled the pussy out. And slapped on a penis. Only I can’t spray to claim territory. It looks like a peeny but it don’t work like one.”
Cat’s voice, he sounds like Burgess Meredith!
“I’m not the same Cat anymore. They call me Tom. Let’s sit, problems between lumbar 4 and 5. Can only stand so long in this outfit.”
They mosey to a bench.
“Like that you recognize my voice.” How’d he know that? “Not many remember Burgess Meredith. Those Rocky movies, that was over 40 years ago”
“Hey, I remember Burgess Meredith. In Batman, he was the Penguin extraordinaire!” They talk about the Twilight Zone re-run. They sit discussing the merits of the three different Catwomen on Batman. Cat/Tom says Eartha Kitt was the best, you think Julie Newmar was by far better.
“Don’t tell that to Eartha. Actually, you can’t, she’s dead.” They stretch legs together.
“What are you? You’re not Julie Newmar as Catwoman. You sound like the Meredith Penguin. But you’re dressed like a buff James Corden from the ‘Cats’ movie.”
“Dontcha get it, I’m the superhero Catman!”
“Catman?” He had never heard of Catman in the Marvel or DC comics universes.
“Your name is Catman? And you’re a super hero? So…what does a Catman do?”
He groans. “I get that a lot. People normally sing Bob Seeger. Cops search me for hippie drug contraband from the 60’s. My superpower is that I save people’s love lives.”
He gets up, stretching, their time almost up. “I gotta get something for this pain,” he rubs. “Well, I show you a movie, of the future with your ex. In your case, it’s called ‘Mr. Wonderful Life’, that’s a working title. You get back together and live happily ever after.”
Catman waves his big paw hands.
Next thing he knows, it is morning. A cop is banging his night stick on the bench rails to wake him up. “Rise and shine pal, time to go home.”
At home, he enters the apartment and returns to the bedroom, turning on the Twilight Zone marathon. He is now that episode! Julie Newmar is in it, playing his honey! Paunch is now sexy! Baldness too! The Twilight Zone prez has some weird orange bouffant. Honey calls to invite him over for some afternoon delight as thanks for finding Cat. She/He is now a Tom, can you believe it! The Twilight theme song fades.
*** END ***