Conrad, a thick white haired cat, strode majestically across the bare floor of Jean-Michel Pinot’s cramped studio apartment. "You want something to eat?" Jean Michel asked. "Well of course you do, you obese little creature. Eating constitutes one third of your daily schedule." The other two thirds of the day, of course, was filled with lying around somewhere stretching, and sleeping. Sometimes Jean-Michel envied this type of schedule. Most of his friends would, certainly. Theirs were lives of sixty hour work weeks, never having a moment to rest and enjoy the kind of money they were making except for a couple of weeks of vacation every year. How quickly some of them had thrown away their youth in exchange for an escape from their parents home. One prison for another. No matter. Some of Jean-Michel’s older friends had avoided the threat of the so-called real world by extending their education with graduate studies and doctoral programs. These friends, of course, inevitably had fewer financial concerns in the long run, and some of them delighted in being called "Doctor." It was the rare individual who used this as the foundation for their reasoning, thankfully.
"Your food is ready, Conrad," Jean-Michel called out. The preparation of a cat’s food normally involved the opening of a small tin or the scooping of some little bits from a large plastic bin. Conrad never came when he was called, so the food ended up being brought to him. The trip was a short one.
"Fussy little thing, aren’t you?" Jean-Michel asked rhetorically. Conrad was so particular about his food that he would only eat one brand of cat food. Somehow he knew if it was the right one or not, and he downright refused to eat anything else. Spoiled cat. Jean-Michel placed the small bowl in front of Conrad, who began eating immediately. "They should put you in their ads for their food, you enjoy it so much. Then maybe instead of money we could get a year’s supply of it." Conrad looked up, and then went back to eating.
The telephone rang twice before Jean-Michel was able to pick it up. There should be some kind of Olympic event involving maneuvering around a small apartment-like space with a cat that is eating. Hurdles might be high to jump over, but they don’t shift around to where you are trying to walk so you stumble over.
"Jean-Michel?" the person said in a low masculine voice.
"Hello?" Jean-Michel responded.
"Jean-Michel?" the person repeated.
"Klaus, is that you?"
"Yes, Jean-Michel, it’s me. Have I called at a bad time?"
"Not at all. I was just feeding Conrad." At the sound of his name, Conrad looked up at Jean-Michel. A small yawn, a stretch of the back, and then a return to the bowl. It was rather hard to distract Conrad from his food. Short of a nuclear holocaust, Conrad would stay in his position in front of the bowl until there was nothing left to eat. Conrad’s phrase book did not have "left-over" in it. Then again, it didn’t have too much in it, as he was a cat.
"Again? You seem to do that quite often."
"Well, he is a hungry little fellow, I will admit."
"To say the least."
Seems like Old Times
"How have you been doing, Klaus?"
"All right. It seems like quite awhile since I’ve last talked to you."
"It has been quite awhile. I think we’ve both been pretty busy with work, and that kind of thing. It feels like I’m working all the time!"
"Are you still writing for all those magazines?"
"It pays the bills around here, in any case." Jean-Michel was quite the busy body, sending out self-addressed stamped envelopes and e-mails in every direction, giving him plenty of assignments to do at any given time. He wrote about bicycling, tennis, fine dining, beer… if he didn’t know enough about a subject, there were always numerous ways to research it. Being so widely published lent credibility to his name, making it much easier to find regular assignments. "What are you doing these days, Klaus?"
"Nothing too exciting," Klaus responded, "just working in the administrative office at the Citibank near my apartment. I also write the occasional poem or two, but they don’t leave the confines of my notebook."
A quiet moment of thought spiced with a few drops of anxiety. "If you wouldn’t mind," Jean-Michel said, "I would like to take a look at some of this poetry of yours."
There was another moment of silence, which Jean-Michel feared indicated a forthcoming refusal from his friend. If he said no, Jean-Michel thought, he wouldn’t press the issue any further. Still, he did want to see the poetry of his good friend. He hadn’t even known that his friend wrote poetry up until this point. Was he really that good of a friend if he didn’t know that kind of thing? Perhaps he was looking too much into this. Some people are more private, not sharing their intimate belongings with any but a select few. Jean-Michel thought that he would have belonged to the few in the case of Klaus.
The Shyness of a Poet
"I don’t know," Klaus finally stammered, "it’s not exactly Poe, or Eliot, or even Smith for that matter."
"Smith?" Jean-Michel asked.
"Surely you’re familiar with Robert Smith, of The Cure."
"Only vaguely familiar, I’m afraid," Jean-Michel said. "Never mind them," he added, "you are after all your own poet."
"I’m no poet" Klaus interjected strongly.
"Do you write poetry?"
Jean-Michel smiled a little, and then said, "Congratulations. You’re a poet."
"A bad poet."
"I can be the judge of that. Come now, let me see some of this poetry." Klaus had not, after all, outright refused. He was probably just being his shy introverted self.
An offer not to refuse
"Are you busy today? We can get together for lunch and a little poetry reading" Klaus offered.
"That sounds great. How about Amy’s Bread, the one on Ninth Avenue? It’s between Fifteenth and Sixteenth Street. It’s really good, and affordable."
The banker-poet hesitated for a moment before responding, "Of course, yes, Amy’s Bread." Another pause, and then, "An hour from now?"
Looking at his wristwatch, a relic from the 1960’s that he had found while wandering around a thrift store, Jean-Michel said, "That sounds fine to me. I’ll see you there. Bye." Klaus replied with similar remarks of his own, and both hung up their phones.