Advice in Room 7

May 30, 2021

Larry walked in just as I was cleaning the eighth litter box.  He sat on the only chair in the room. I was in front of him on all fours. The glass windows helped him get his timing just right.

This was becoming our routine. We volunteered at the shelter on the same days.

“Where do you live?” he asked me again. His slender hands searched for an anchor on the front of his wrinkled shirt when he spoke to me, working to enunciate each syllable.

“I’m not really comfortable sharing that, Larry,” I said.

He nodded as his eyes followed an invisible ribbon making patterns around us.

“Do you like sex?” he asked loudly.

“I’m definitely not comfortable discussing that, Larry,” I said, hoping I sounded relaxed and sex-positive. Why was that important to me? I wondered. Something to ponder later.

“Are you married?” another question.

“I am not.” This one I could answer.

“But, I do live with someone.”

“What does he do for a living?” Larry asked, his eyes narrowing in scrutiny or suspicion.

“He’s a photographer.”

“Ohhhh,” Larry slowly shook his head in comprehension, as if he had just solved a complex math equation that had been keeping him up at night.

Now with a purpose, the casual questioning was over. He stood and waited for me to get to my feet, the final litter box clean. He said one sentence before he left the room.

“Never marry a tographer.”

Larry closed the glass door behind him, sat hunched over on a bench in the hallway, cats passing him by like tiny cars on a highway.