Life Without Lazarus – Day 4

He pulled the legs off crickets, just one per customer. The crickets would hop in circles, suffering.

He would torture, but not kill, a mouse; and he usually let it escape. We had maimed rodents in the walls.

He would sleep on top of books, because a book with a body on it was less likely to be picked up. A book not picked up was less likely to siphon attention away from him.

If a book was in active use, he bashed his head into its corner rhythmically, until threats of exile and violence ensued.

He would creep up on his sister when she was sleeping and bathe her. When she awoke and began to show signs of appreciation, he would bite her on the neck.

He had the ability to levitate. He could hit the top of a door or clear all the breakables off the fireplace mantle at a fast run.

He ate dog food, tearing open the packages, taking what he wanted and leaving the rest to rot.

He stole chicken breasts and coated them with lint from under the coffee table.

He dipped his tail in dinner plates and bowls and used it to clear horizontal surfaces.

He attacked the dog’s tail while she was relaxing. He was the only thing in the house that could make a husky bark.

In his last year of life, he wandered the house, yowling at unseen visitors late into the night.

He did not believe any cardboard box should have a fresh, clean edge. He spent hours spindling and mutilating them with his clawless paws.

If you stood, he was in your seat faster than Frasier Crane at a coffee shop.

He missed the litter box regularly.

He would plead to be petted, and, once successful, he would bite.

He was the most profound trip hazard in three states and never walked behind his target.

He shared a bed by pacing on top of its other occupant and would settle in to sleep only on someone’s head.

He loved me unconditionally. He lived only for my affection. I could wear him like a scarf, use him for a pillow or hold him upside down for a Spider-Man kiss. He did not object. People thought we played too rough, but we played.

I can’t think of many limits to what I would have done to let him continue his villainous work; but there came a day when he no longer wanted my attention. “The tables have turned,” I said to him. But he didn’t answer.

He wanted to hide behind the couch or sleep in the dog’s bed. He stopped asking for food. He drank from the bathtub faucet and fell asleep on the wet mat.

The technical term is uremia. Toxins in the bloodstream reach the brain. It meant that Lazarus wasn’t Lazarus anymore. And all I could do was spare the poor soul that remained a few days of half-life and starvation. I suppose it was a kindness, but it still feels like a betrayal.

It’s melodramatic to say I didn’t do enough, so I’ll say I wish I could have done more.

And then I guess I’ve said enough.

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