Jan/Feb 2021  •   Humor & Satire

Non-Denominational Game Show

by Omer Wissman

Earthscape artwork by Andres Amador, 'Trail', 2008. San Francisco, CA

Earthscape artwork by Andres Amador


Being the sum of all color and none, it was only a matter of chance that my very first kitten ever would go grey quite soon after he roared out of my Amazon droned Pandora's box. When he would shred the morning paper, I called him Schroeder, and he would take out his crystal claws and slice two slices of pizzarella for us. Soon after, he would tire and ask me to read some White Fang, because he found dogs so very dull. Then he'd doze off inside his little remote-controlled motorboat, scratch marked with his other name, grey gatsby, and I'd drive him around the pool until he started talking in his sleep. In his grey night, he unfurled majestic tales from whence he came, as I played with my one grey hair, listening with calming pleasure to stories about doctor Dorian and mister Gray, emperors of planet Wilde.

But far too soon into our relationship, I started greying in places best kept to myself, like the wax in my ears or the cord of my headphones. To make matters less materialistic, one thunderstorm eve another Schroeder Gatz portaled into my world, coming down the chimney, cleaning ashes out of his ash-colored coat of charms, meowing coyly in falsetto Procol Harum's "whiter shade of pale." From my dream of pink elephants parade escaped a skinned kitty and opened a tuna fish can, catcalling me from the top of the scratch pole.

As I wondered through the workday as if I was losing it, I'd come home to find I might be, as from the moon paraglides another cat, moon-colored and barking like Laika. He became known around our commune as Catsro, for his love of catnip cigars. I was so tired from trying to keep this litter herd quiet enough for me to sleep, that I collapsed on the carpet, drooling in purrs. In the morning, I opened the fridge now full of fancy feasts, when out of the grey rose a tiny furry head, tweeting for me to hold him. I pulled at his paw, and he grew and grew like magic from a magician's hat, then placed his throbbing being atop my graying hair. I had no choice but to take hatcat to the office on my head, regardless of staring whispers. Only when we returned, I remembered being young and promising to myself that as soon as I get a room of my own, I'll fill it with a flurry of furry purring. Then, scratching my head in disbelief was another, even greyer cat, coming from the ceiling like some meme. I called him Cot, for he in lullabies commanded the grey garden cattle to sweet sleep, and in their dream one night, a grey sphinx chipped his way to to press a few laptop keys, 3D printing out our first female fancy footed good girl, as the room and its inhabitants stood on their toes, hairs standing on end. Greyndel was a patchwork of all our existing shades, and we immediately bowed before her very regal meowing.

The day after, I was fired from my job, leaving with a Cheshire smile because even though I deeply dreaded it, I felt I must tend to my little ever-expanding flock. Sure, the room stank of fancy feces, but this seemed to me the sign of a happy clam clan. I didn't even care if I was losing my color vision, because the only show I still wanted to watch on TV was the dead channel's static slushy snow, from which portaled one Friday Fishcat the furteeth flying straight onto my water bed, sticking nine inch wolverine nails into it. I offered this new family member a feeding pan as a hat to calm her down from my deluge bed, and she thanked me by spitting some bed water into my thirst of a mouth. I spat out a great scream as in the rising water I saw my reflection, small as a scaredy mouse, and so did my pets, who recognized instantly that they owned me and not the other way around, and so promptly chased me into the catacombs of this cat home.

From my little peephole in the grey matter area, I saw more and more catty portals.

Soon this pet society filled the room some 50 shades of Schroeder Gatz strong, a frightful army before me, from mothcateers to felflies, pinballed runts and matzah-balled males, pussyfooting miss mitskies drowning the days in spiked mother's milk, while a herd of fanciful feet pointed like some possessed Maneki Neko towards my exit, through the mouse house and out of this room I once thought home.

So, hung head in hand and toes dragging my legs, I became feral overnight, dumpster diving and burrowing, burying my scattered scat, marking my stray territory with toxic tears. All too human for the alley, far too far gone for office work, I finally found a foster friend, one kind enough to cart me off to the funny farm up north. Anatomically frayed, wholeheartedly frail, I was diagnosed as suffering from a split hair personality, because I could not keep from asking in fragile purrs the doctors and staff, "Is it grey, or gray?" refusing to accept this quantum reality of being two in the same, mad as a cat and mad as a man.


It's My Funeral and I'll Die if I Want To

When I was alive I'd sometimes go to my local park and sit motionless on a bench, waiting for someone to sit beside me, then stare at them as hard as I could until they would say, "What?" Being the cue for me to ask so puzzled, "You can see me?!" And go on to try convincing them I'm a ghost, and they must help me find my murderer.

Now the tables have turned, kind of, and I really am a ghost, but since no one can seem to see me, I have to go out on my own and see who among these sunglassed people I have dearly departed from has brought me to the depths of death's air.

There's Auntie Edna, released not long ago from the psychiatric ward so she can sit as always apart from everyone, a party of none, death incarnate. Could it have been her, my role model of a black sheep separating from the herd, that came to slaughter and butcher me? Her mother, Joya, is trying not to look at her, so has taken upon herself to thank everyone for coming, a role I would like to have reserved for someone I actually cared about. Could it be that her recent elderly quest for supporting actress fame, having failed her into misery, has also led her to seek infamy in real-life murder, hoping to be filmed as it will be retold in one of those true crime melodramas?

And what about my first girlfriend, the lovelier than ever Maya? I want to believe she got here after getting my terrible news second hand, which seems probable since after all mine was and will eternally be the first Facebook Live death. She seems happy, or at least pregnant. Her husband or whatever is waiting for her at the cemetery gates, and as I was once so many times, looking forward to greeting her with subtext indignation. Did she finally avenge all the hurt I caused her by putting my selfishness first, refusing to move in with her, and having her bring me takeaway hummus every other day?

Either way, even if she did slay me, I'm really glad she's here. I'm hoping she and Marcy, my second ex-girlfriend, also known as best friend forever, will talk and come to an agreement that I did not in fact deserve to die. But maybe it was her, my bff, who had grown tired of the endless calls calling for help, crying tearless in her earphones, yelping for her to treat me like one of her pet cats. Could all of that have ended up with me actually euthanized, murdered by mercy? Though I'm the only person who is actually in one, everyone seems to be behaving as though in a stuck elevator, stuck with about 50 of their closest frenemies. Perhaps all these suspects were, as I am, measuring each other up with suspicion.

Even my beloved sister might have been the one. She stands by her husband who brought her into the life of observant Judaism. Could they have heard tell of my suicidal plans and wanted to make sure I was given a proper religious burial, rather than end up "outside the fence" with all other killers of self? My big brother stands closest to the grave, as he did when our father passed away. Is it possible I confessed to him, in one of my many drug induced manias, how I sat at the hospital, apart from the rest of the family but not far from father׳s sickbed, and broke down praying God for our suffering to end? Was it in a twisted twist of fate that my brother, my keeper, has avenged his father's death-by-prayer?

Maybe it's just mother, crying even louder than she had for her husband, which might be a clear sign of guilt over finally becoming unable to excuse all I was guilty of. But as the earth swallows me whole, a little worm comes near my ear to confess, "No you host of a ghost, it was black sheep seclusion, failed fame dreams, shame over slo-mo suicide, sorrow for letting friends down the drain, embarrassment of subtext indignations, punishment for prayerful patricide, the guilt in being one bad son of a martyr, all of this took you by your own hand and slit the right wrists for a change. You lived unfit for consumption, but now, body, you're ours, sheep ass below, cat soul above.״


Non Denominational Game Show

Welcome Channel Zero voyeurs and voymin, my name is Rush Limbo and I will be hosting these parasites. To the right of me in transparent robes, as you may have recognized, it's God & son. Give it up for team God! No? Maybe later. To the left in red shirts, the Devil and his minions. The theme of today׳s show is "what comes before the subject." Prizes include walking on cloudlines, all-inclusive booze cruise to a lake of fire, and ooh, heaven is a place on earth. Let's proceed.

The first question is for God and son. "He is nothing but everything."

Yes, messiah's ass, you pressed the button first. Neigh away. ״It's the supersubject!״ Gooooallelujah! Can I get an amen? Nevermind. Now, resident evils of Hades, you can tie the score by explaining to a six-year-old what he meant. Yes, O beastly one. "Hmm...well, a super subject is the sum total of the seventh billionth heart fraction, confronting social anomie at the top while its demonimator is the amount of black sheeple slaughtered in their sleep.״ Let me blow my vuvuzelujah! Thank you, dark one, for an enlightening answer to this good god question. So a bonus one for you. In the diaries of Satanist Y. Stalin, he described another type of subjectivity. What is its name, and what is its game?

Mr. Allin, do you have an answer, or were you defecating on your button for fun?

Anytime you're done coughing up all that cough syrup, sir. "This subject is an I, so twisted it lives life looking only through his own axiole, always unable to see the puppeteers controlling his bowel bows and bow-woe-wows from above. Therefore he is dechristened by the sobriquet Surject." High five, Allin! Screwballs you too. Team god, you're up. On the site bible-fanfic.gov there is a post, as you must know, describing another kind of subject. Can any of you explain to my six-year-old intern who and what these subjecta are all about? You have an eternity, starting... now.

God, let Christ say something for once! "Well, that has to be the Obsubject, popular in early second millennium ADD, who can experience self and thus everything else only by objections and objectives, not seeing them to actually be immaterial matters, living on top of a skyscraper landfill, of which he has mostly little to no knowledge." Limbo says Damn! The kingdom of heaven is on fire! Uh oh, that Scriabin ringtone means bonus apocalypse time for both sides of the tree of knowledge. Whoever buzzes and answers first, gets seven, typological seven of course, tickets to a Falcor first-class flight to the Bermuda Triangle. The question is, which late subjectivity avoided all and every afterlife? Joker, you pushed first. Do you have an answer, or are we supposed to be laughing now? "No rush, Mr. Limbic. The subject in question is ha ha ha the Ubersubject, who to this day is getting off buses to go on trains that take him on planes where he lands a cab, finally securing himself at night inside a hotel room to binge on anti-subjectives, like sex, booze, and TV quiz shows."

Funny guy, go overdose on that drugstore special you like so much. Now!

Before it gets all God and Madog here, and ass below's soul be above, what comes now after the subject? God and devil, you buzzed at the same time. This must be a foreshadowing of the end times. "It's subsubjects all the way down, Mr. Limbo."