Two from Sleep Suite
Jason Daniel Schwartz

The Eleventh

Two huge cops. They were waltzing in the street chest to chest. Hands clasped. Their care for each other showed white in their tremendous knuckles. The drunk tipped the bottle of wine through the sun into his mouth. Bright red with the sun in the green glass. With his red mouth the drunk said something to his friend. His red tongue lied limp and naughty on the bed of his lip. They both laughed richly and seemed a part of everything more or less. Not isolated from it.
A dog trotted by with human feet. It was profane. The sound of slapping it made. In the bushes also profane was a cat who sat upright against a tree like a man, his arms framing his round belly, his hind legs crossed in the dirt before him. She and I were watching. We may have been the only ones who saw them. A crow on a branch slept. A crow! Sleeping! It was so sunny, so hot. Babies were smiling at parked cars.
Robbie crossed the street far away. His head doesn't seem huge until you are far away from it. He sings about a girl named Lacy. Everybody knows who Lacy really is. Many girls in the audience wish they had somebody singing about her and calling her Lacy; many wished it were Robbie himself singing. Those are not my words. They are the words of a girl who is the friend of the real Lacy. I went to see him play and searched the faces of girls for some indication of the thoughts behind them. The day was bright and Robbie's copper head looked very new and shiny. He was alone and out of sight and going about his life, and it was definitely him, and neither of us called out to him or said anything because there was nothing to say out in the sun where nothing separated us from everybody and we didn't feel the panic of something that we once took as solid pouring out, just bleeding out, while we quite deliberately did nothing to stop it.
Nearer, right near us, an older Indian man crouched near the curb. By the abundance of pigeon droppings it was evident he was reading the pigeon droppings. It was not even in doubt. Another Indian man approached him and said something angrily in another language. Something like, "must you do this in the middle of the day?" A day. A night. This is not a distinction only noted by people. Ask the cat sitting like a man. But a beautiful day is such a specific possession, each to each person its own precious sorrow. It takes no critical thought to move from a general statement to specific incident. This is the first lesson of how to speak to people intelligently. The second is only tell the very best dreams. Three to four a year even if your dreams obsess you. Or else people will think of you badly, even eventually your lover. This was not a dream. I told that to her expecting her to say something like, "how do you know?" because she has always to state a rebuttal to what I say. She only sat on the chair in the sunny kitchen drinking a tall glass of water so slowly she was also breathing in and out of it. She was far off, farther than Robbie was when we saw him down the street. Her fingers pushed grains of salt on the tablecloth and the sounds of her breathing and her throat swallowing were huge in the kitchen. Someone hammered metal bars or maybe it was sheet metal down the street.
There was a dog with human feet and two cops waltzing. People sitting at tables on the sidewalk were laughing. Who can blame them? Huge cops waltzing is the kind of thing that makes some people feel it isn't foolish to keep looking, that it is even-money everything is not already determined. Others shared the joy similar to when somebody shows you a shirt that terrifies you on the hanger but when you put it on you feel beautiful and that opportunities for enhancing your pleasure lie in thousands of ordinary places. Going from specifics to law, that is the hard thing. Going from a beautiful day, a sunny beautiful day, to anything else -- don't be retarded. Before she was even finished drinking her water there was the sound of fabric tearing and something dripping on the floor. Every object in the house glowed without shame. We slept through the rest of the sun. She stayed in the kitchen. I was in a deck chair in the mudroom with its window on the bromelia.

The Sleepers

He took the oven tray and put it on the cold burners. He took the knife and put it on top of the shivering refrigerator. He ate from the yellow and red striped tomato as if it were a plum and felt a sensation of dry, wet greenness. There was the sound of the small shock of the cat jumping off the sofa in the next room. There was the rattling of the knife blade on the refrigerator top. He took the tray and put it on the table. On the tray were thirty burnt pumpkin seeds. He scattered the seeds with his fingers so that none were touching and waited for them to walk like beetles. The pumpkin seeds were now each a separate thing when they had only recently been one much larger thing. He waited for them to stop.
The marionette was tangled up and therefore had become responsible for its own actions. Each limb did something unrelated to his intentions. He said to now move your arms up and the marionette vomited a small globule of cream or fat. The cat had never liked puppets or things that looked like animals but behaved like things and bolted from the sofa-back to the space below the bureau. He knew even if his brother were not busy in the kitchen he would not have to conceal his actions from him. He brought the marionette to the cat and crouched to her. The cat hissed. The marionette had never liked animals that behaved like people and felt its nausea surging, something liquid.
The brothers were hiding. They knew only that they were hiding from something and not that what chased them was a gigantic dog. They knew they would be found and so had each brought something to baffle their pursuer. One brother held a knife. The other brother held the cat. The space beneath the bush where they thought to hide themselves was in fact the entire universe of some dream of the both of them in the act of sleeping. Their bodies were prone as a couple of heavy coats somewhere. Who knows what their bodies were up to? Three days of moving between the limited scope of tasks available to two brothers locked in a mostly empty house had been the very nightmare that had woken a gigantic angry dog.
The two brothers had loved each other so intensely that all other creatures had abandoned them except for the cat. This is the thing about cats. They feel no jealousy and are not grudging. They ask only to shit in the clean ground and eat the one thing they like best.  To the brothers' cat death was insignificant compared to the potential of being kept awake. In dreams she saw mysterious fields where she was larger and fiercer than any other predator and all animals feared her so much there were endless rivers of them pouring away from her in all directions. When she was hungry she jumped into one of these rivers and ran on backs that tore beneath her claws. When she stopped there was a line of twitching carcasses behind her in two parallel rows. The two brothers marveled that she could sleep in the middle of such a dream. They touched her head and watched her paws tense and untense.