"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Your last salutation, lost forever on the ethernet

Your last salutation, lost forever on the ethernet

Getting home late is not uncommon, tonight its 9:00 P.M.  It was a long day at the office. I pour myself a Bombay Safire Gin and Tonic, with lime.  Sam, my Calico, winds around my leg like a fuzzy boa constrictor. All Calico’s are supposedly all females. Sam represents the longest relationship with a female I’ve had. She named herself as a kitten.  One day, upon arriving home for lunch to check on her, she was chewing on an old TV guide, with a photo of Samantha Stevens on the cover.  She looked up, wiggled her nose, and I said, hi Sam. I don’t believe in coincidences. She was given the option of Elizabeth Montgomery, since she went back to chewing on the witch, Sam it was. That was seven years ago. Good years, except the last few. Well, since Mary left two years ago.

Travel is a big part of my job, and I am thankful for having a friendly neighbor to exchange cat-sitting/apartment watching duties. Her name is Sally. Her folks named her. She works as a grocery checker and stripper, at the Lazy Eye, on Cliff Avenue.  She invited me to watch her dance once, about a year ago, but when I saw that she stashed more money in her thong than I make in a week; embarrassed I have not returned.  

Loneliness has some things in common with a lioness.  They are both powerful. They prefer to hunt at night. And they are challenging to kill.  A lioness cannot rest long, or she will become prey herself. Because of her metabolism, she will begin to starve.  They say there is not much difference between the two, in that loneliness never feels full until it eats all of your heart, and until then it doesn’t rest. Lately, Admittedly, I have never felt more like prey.   

An email arrives just as an ID channel murder is taking place.  I freeze frame the bullet. I read the email aloud, my eyes bending to the salutation.  "All the best… Yolanda."  I stare at the paragraphs, lifeless letters, painful adjectives and goodbye wrapping sadness with a pretty bow. Like Robert Oppenheimer at Starbuck’s, squinting for atoms in his Non-Fat Latte. I read the last words of parting. You said: it was best & that someday I would find my true love as you would.1: You want nothing just to keep the car. 2: You leave with mostly memories. 3: You will never hear from me again you wrote. The email continued: The day we walked into the rainy park. I cried, hoping you would not notice my tears. All those evenings together, our eyes never intersecting, all the distance building, empty yardsticks of time…” 

An hour passes, as I continue to stare at the emails, spell checked perfect grammar and one last kiss font. I wonder out loud: Who the hell is Yolanda?

The doorbell rings, and I hear myself:

“Sally, I can’t take you to the Lazy Eye in the morning…”

Not in my wildest dreams.  It’s Mary!  

Who is Sally, Robert?  Is she another one of your so-called ‘friends?’

She stares up with her brown eyes that control all things soul and loin.

Ma, Ma, Mary, what are you doing here?  

Big-eyed Emoji look.

Well, Rob, If you will have me back, I am willing to give us one more chance.  I live in Minnesota now, but if we can work things out, I would love to move back to Santa Rosa. 

OMG. Can you really forgive me?  Come in, come in. 

I feel like I just received a tip in my jock strap for a cool one million dollars.  I am ecstatic.  Maybe I will have a last chance at true love after all.  

Mary’s suitcase and small backpack are situated in the bedroom.  She cooks me a most wonderful late dinner, and after, we all retire for the night. Sam finally gives up with the mattress rodeo about 3:00 A.M., and jumps off the bed into the night. 

We wake late. After shaving and showering, I wrestle into a fresh shirt, step into my pants.  Mary hands me coffee, while I hop out the door.  On the way to work, I smile and sip coffee.  Damn I feel like a survivor of the Titanic or Hindenburg.  Life is good.

Mary pours herself a cup of coffee, sits at the desk, as Sam jumps in her lap and cuddles.  She is hopeful and relaxed.  Mary decides on playing her favorite solitaire game on Rob’s computer.  It comes to life, and she stares. 

I head home after work, not being able to chat with Mary all day.  She must have her phone on airplane mode.  That hello kiss is waiting.

Unlocking the door to the apartment: Mary, Mary, where are you, sweets?  Mary? 

She is not to be seen.  The bed is made, and there is no sign of Mary.  Her things are all gone.  It’s like she was never here at all; my nightmare begins.  I flop near the desk and place my forehead on my folded arms, bump the laptop on, and see the note.

Rob, I see from the email that you have not changed, first this Sally; then the break-up letter from Yolanda.  Now I genuinely feel like I am never going to be enough for you. I am indeed glad I never gave you my address.  You have been blocked on my iPhone too. I never want to see you again.  Mary

There is a loud crack. My heart breaks in half. No, it’s just Sam. She accidentally knocked a lamp to the floor.  The light from the lamp shows a pee spot on the carpet the size of Niagara Falls. Liz disappears under the bed.

Dan A. Cardoza has a Master of Science Degree in Counseling from California State University, Sacramento. He is the author of two chapbooks, Nature’s Front Door & Expectation of Stars. Website: www.danacardozawriter.com, Twitter: @cardozabig