The Masked God Approaches
My last missive indicated that, because I am in tiger heaven, I am more or less obligated to believe in a god of some kind. That being true, I had little evidence even here that a god existed.
Evenings up North are vanishing. It’s the winter, and this old tiger doesn’t know he’s going to die. His only human friend says you can’t be ready for death. The tiger likes that idea. It was a surprise. Death was much like a tiger or a human: a surpassing hunter, so fleet that it could pull the rug out from under a spider. As a tiger, he saw a lot of not-being. Even in the suburbs, under the auspices of civil government, a panthera tigris needed to kill. Birds and bank robbers, squirrels and shoplifters all down the hatch.
Older bones swapped themselves in for the young ones. It was a relay race where the slowest, most haggardly runner finished. His reward was oblivion. The tiger appreciated the joke. As a young one, he laughed at what he would become. Even as the brightest, most formidable horizon approaches, the tiger’s body becomes less able to appreciate it. Its eyes dim, so the light passes for a glow stick. Its ears decay, and the gongs of heaven strike as a plastic triangle. Its memory fades, and it does not remember its predecessors on the race.
Tiger heaven picked up the old tiger by the neck, like a mother. He waded out of a pool and shook off his fur. Other tigers were stalking, idling, climbing, mating, strolling. Tigers are not meant to be together. Except in the afterlife, or so it seemed.
The Masked Man Approaches
I outgrew my wide eyes. They’re still open, but look narrower by comparison because I’m so much bigger than I was. Now there is a hole in the open space, the only structure in all of tiger heaven. Blank-faced red bricks line its sides, with windows peeking like arrow slits through the façade. A town house for a tiger so reclusive he would rather spend all eternity alone than watch the bacchanal outside.
I was listening to the next album up for review. At that point, he approached. A throng of tigers surrounded him. No surprise. From the top of the house where my listening space is, he looked human. Like me, he stood on two legs. Unlike me, he wore full clothing and had no claws nor stripes. What stuck out most about him was the way he walked. Nothing about that shruggy gait or restless twitch resembled the proud and disaffected stride of cat kind. A human to be sure, and probably pathetic.
How did he get in here?
Talk to Him, You Dolt
Knock knock. You know the joke. At once I could see that he was no one to be trifled with, though he seemed friendly. Having read the title of this missive, you know that he wore a mask. What he said first, however, is the main point of this.
“Alexius, it’s me, Jon.”
I could not have expected this. I looked at him more closely, though, and it began to make sense. There was no face behind the mask, or none the figure would reveal. He wore a hooded sweatshirt backward. Because it was too big for him, the sleeves drooped down and covered his hands except for his fingertips. Headphones were wrapped around his neck like necklaces. Inside the hood of his sweatshirt, there was the key to his success in finding his way here. A pair of tiger dolls, twins, their eyes black and dead, but cute, rested there, staring outward.
It became far easier to communicate with the outside world. This was a mere tool of Jon’s, not a medium or a projection, exactly, but more of a symbolic representation, a communiqué in visual form. Heaven was becoming more bearable by the day. When he left, he left with a small rush of air. Not enough to clear away the aggregate mustiness of the house, but invigorating nonetheless. I went back upstairs and prepared right then to write better and more incisively. Nothing could defy me now.