A Highly Ritualized Cat is No More

for some reason, I believed I would be awakened by the six am breakfast dance well into my retirement years. I hadn’t really taken into account that Kestrel, along with being Houdini Kitty that could work himself out of any bandage system when I had accidentally degloved the tip of his tail, was also Mathuselah Kat. We aren’t certain how old he was, we aren’t careful with those kind of records, but in our archaeological methods we calculated him to be between seventeen and twenty years old.

The warning signs came when he took to his downstairs bed near his food and waited for me to come down to him last week. It was even more disconcerting when he put up no resistance in a car ride to the vet’s, something that had always brought out his inner Tasmanian Devil. We found that he had dropped from fourteen pounds to six-and-a-half and his kidneys were failing. We prepared a regimen of nightly subcutaneous injections of fluids to ease the strain on his kidneys. We all foresaw this going on for quite some time as he was a recalcitrant old beast that would not easily give up his position as assistant and supervisor over my writing and Kit’s sewing.

The crash came Sunday. He could barely make the two foot trek to his litter box, moved close by for his dignity. He drank some water, but completely gave up on food. We still held out hope that we could nurse him back to health. I stayed home Monday, already fighting off an allergy-induced asthma attack. Kestrel had collapsed to the point of no longer being able to walk. That is when he started to cry.

It was not a pained mewling, or any other sound I’d heard before.  It was a single syllable conveying pleading confusion, a single utterance at the top of his voice like “Please” or “Help”. Since it came with the sudden betrayal by his own body, it sounded to me like “Why?” The sound pierced me right to my seemingly atrophied heart,

My wife and I took turns cuddling him on the couch. She stayed with him through the night when I went to bed in hopes of getting better myself. I heard him give out that cry several times through the night.

This morning we took him to the vet’s for one last time. He did not resist the medication and slipped into his final sleep without struggle.

I know losing a cat is nowhere near as wrenching as losing a child or a parent. Believe me, I have had the chance for comparison. Still, it is the first time I have wept in several years. It is more than enough travail to wrap up the year for the Matulich household.

Farewell, Black Prince, muse, assistant, living alarm clock, and unfamiliar. May you have many squirrels and birds to chase in feline Valhalla.

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The Time of Sex, Magick, and Power Tools is Ending

My third book in the Arcanum Faire trilogy, The Ren Faire at the End of the World, is now live as an ebook on Amazon. Other venues to activate shortly. You can see at the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077MG44CZ

It is a little sad to leave the town of Arcanum, OH and its whacko inhabitants after over a decade. but there are new adventures to chronicle. I am nearly done with my tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. After that, I attack my non-eurocentric steampunk series.

For those of you who are Netgalley accredited reviewers, the second book of Arcanum Faire, Power Tools in the Sacred Grove, is available for request/download. With luck I will be able to upload RFEW to be available December 1.

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/125017

 

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There is no punchline

We are just days away from the release of “Ren Faire at the End of the World”, the third book of my Arcanum Faire trilogy. It will be November 28th for the trade paperback edition and November 21st for the ebook. Dread Central will be hosting a cover reveal on their site between now and then. This link will be live as of 11/16/17 at 09:30 PT:

http://www.dreadcentral.com/?p=260529

Until the 28th, I have a little taste of the opening of RFEW to pique your interest. As always, watch the bushes and keep a shovel handy at all times.

 

THE THREE LURKERS

A paparazzi, an OSHA inspector, and a Vatican priest hunkered down behind the bushes outside Camp Arcanum.

Unfortunately, there is no punchline to this story, Jeff Lazarro thought as he knelt in the ice-cold mud. Ms. Snowden, the disgraced OSHA inspector with a face like a weasel sucking a lemon, squatted just behind him. Her pale wool coat matched her short platinum blonde hair, which fortunately blended into the drifts of snow behind them. Monsignor Valcarcel, on Jeff’s other side, wore a navy pea coat over his black priest’s cassock. Only the white tab of the rugged old man’s color and his ruddy nose gave him away as anything other than a tree stump.

All Jeff wanted was some nice juicy pictures. With the trifecta of Sex, Suicide, and Satanism following Jeremiah Stone’s death, demand had pushed prices into the stratosphere. Marc Sindri had cost Jeff his next boat payment when he had caught Jeff and erased the card that held a few dozen images of a New Year’s Day co-ed fistfight just outside these three Airstream trailers

Snowden’s mission in life was to prove that either monsters were real and lurking on the grounds of the renaissance faire or that Sindri had rigged the whole thing as a prank to scuttle her workplace inspection. Sometimes, she speculated that he had maybe hired the monsters. Also, she wanted her clipboard back.

The priest, when he spoke, warned of a threat to souls of all involved in black magic and New Age heresy at this renaissance faire. Having Valcarcel tag along gave Jeff the same guilty feeling he got after admitting to his dentist he’d forgotten to floss, but their resources together were far better than lurking in separate bushes…

Valcarcel took a sip of his fortified coffee and pulled down a branch to get a clear view of the old barn, gravel track, and trailers that made up Camp Arcanum.

“You know,” the old priest muttered, “I would give my left nut to know what’s going on in that trailer right now.”

Jeff didn’t know what use a celibate priest might have for his testicles, but his feelings were pretty much the same.

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War and poppies

It is Veteran’s Day, a day of commemoration that was first a celebration of the Armistice of  WWI. In the century since its inception, vendors have raised money for military charities by selling silk poppies. These are inspired by the carpets of red poppies that grew on the Fields of Flanders, many atop trenches that had become mass graves.

For those who have served, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. War is not an environment that leaves anyone untouched. For those who have made the ultimate, we remember you and hope to atone for those who died for vanity or profit.

A century after the War to End All Wars, the clash of saber against shield can still be heard in diplomacy.  It is a glory to give your life for the weak and innocent; it is a sin to make that sacrifice just another chit on the bargaining table.

 

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Blessed Samhain

It’s come to be that time of year again. The harvests are in, the summer has died. Samhain Night, All Souls’ E’en, is the time when the veil between the worlds is low. Remember those who have passed, trusting they still love as much as when we knew them and learned more than we can ever know. Hold on to those you still have and watch for tricksters in the night. Blessed be.

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Don’t buy my book. Yet.

All the files for “Ren Faire at the End of the World” are complete and in the hands of the publisher. The release date will be sometime before the end of the year. We have a quick turnaround here at Post Mortem Press. To prepare for the completion of the Arcanum Faire, I’ve already put in applications at Ohioana Book Fair and other events like Confusion for next year.

Though RFEW was written to stand up on its own, you get all the jokes and twisting arcs if you read all three.

The first two books, “Camp Arcanum” & “Power Tools in Sacred Grove”, are also up for review on Net Galley. CA will be available until Oct. 30th. Boo. PTSG starts its 30 day on November 1st.  REFW will be sometime after that, most likely Dec. 1st. If you are a credentialed book reviewer and you haven’t read either, please stop by and request a file for download.

Keep your eyes here as I make arrangements for a cover release and other promotional skullduggery.

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A Quick Word from our Author

YES!!!!

I have just sent back what I believe to be the final changes on Ren Faire at the End of the World. All that remains for me is the Dedication, Acknowledgements, and the back cover. With luck, my publisher can set a publication date so that I’ll be eligible for next year’s Ohioana Book Festival.

After that, back to squirrels and lacquered kites.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet browsing.

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Hold your hands up & go “Wheeee!”

Things are speeding up for my writing stuff. Last week, I signed a contract for all three books of the Arcanum Faire trilogy with Post Mortem Press: Camp Arcanum, Power Tools in the Sacred Grove, and Ren Faire at the End of the World. This week, Phil Rogers finalized the design for the third book’s cover. It is awesome, just like the previous two. We’ll be making special arrangements for a cover reveal in the next few weeks.

Through the auspices of the nice people at Broad Universe I have been able to afford to put Camp Arcanum on NetGalley for a month. There are no reports on the number of downloads or reviews before the end of the month, but we’ve gotten several “thumbs ups” for the cover in the first five days. I will put Power Tools up in November and follow with Ren Faire in December.

If you are interested in picking up the first book and being paid for it, check out FlipLoud. They are a social media promotion group that enters readers into a drawing for a gift card for purchasing a featured book. If you are seeing a lot more sex, magick, and power tools on the internet, it is all their fault.

https://fliploud.com/product/camp-arcanum-by-josef-matulich/

One last thing. I will be going down to Louisville this weekend for Imaginarium. With my literary wing man  Sheldon Gleisser in attendance, I will rubbing elbows with other authors, speaking on panels, and learning to drink like a writer. Though I may be sticking to coffee if I give myself too much of a headache Friday night.

http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/

Lots of stuff happening as we slide down the slippery slope to Samhain.

It was all done by elves.

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“Oh yeah, there’s the second half of that conversation.”

The other day, I was at the Cube Farm the other day when the subject of a co-worker came up. This person, who I will call Michael, is an older man who on his best days looks like Agent Gibbs after being tortured in Paraguay for a couple of months. One of my teammates said that Michael had been looking out of sorts lately.

I mentioned that it was understandable. I remembered that he had lost his adult daughter some time in the last year. Having gone through something like that myself, I empathized completely. I had not gotten any of the details of his situation because we were not close, he never showed any sign of wanting to be close, and I don’t enjoy gossip.

The women in my unit went over that topic for a bit, covering the juicy and painful tidbits in what I charitably considered an attempt to comprehend his situation. Then, one of the middle-aged mothers said:

“My God, that’s terrible. I would just die if I lost one of my kids.”

Another woman said pretty much the same thing a minute or two later.

Oh yeah, there’s the second half of that conversation, I thought to myself. The part where my friends and co-workers set off another grief spiral with the best intentions.

I had brought the subject up, I know. This meant that, though my insides began twisting up on themselves, I really didn’t have the right to tell them in gruesome detail what does happen when you lose a child.

You don’t have the luxury of laying down and dying when you have another child that isn’t old enough to understand what has happened to everyone they know.

You don’t have the luxury of laying down and dying when you are the only one your spouse has to understand their pain.  When you are the only one that simply holds on and utters no helpful platitudes. You two go on in proximate silence, each afraid to bring up something that opens another wound, afraid to show that you are bleeding. When both of you are suffering, it eats you up inside to see the other in pain when there is absolutely nothing to ease it.

You don’t die after you lose a child. You act as if you were dead, no sign of grief, no sharing, no opportunity to lance the infection and get beyond it. Most couples who lose a child don’t carry on as a couple for long.

If you’re lucky, you both find a way to heal. Your life becomes a minefield.

Days and months go by without incident. Then, there is a little girl with pigtails like hers. Maybe, it is an older child with CP in a wheelchair, one that got much further than your child had a chance to. Maybe it’s just a child that is happy and alive.

You stop, then, though only blown up in your heart. You grieve, maybe even weep on a bad day.  Darkness prevails for a while. You have a bad day.

You leap back in the stream of normal life and feel it safe to talk about the good times, or the outlandish bad times that boggle the imagination. You pass for normal until the next time you step on a landmine.

Then, you grieve and get back under the horse. You might even write a stupid blog post.

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I Caught my Cat

Since our neighbor’s cat has taken up a haphazard Catch and Release program in the adjoining apartment, we have been having occasional problems with rodents. I’m not talking about the three wayward cavies we inherited from our son, dim-witted rotund beasts approaching a good size for Peruvian Barbecue. Though they take up roughly the same amount of floor space as our  love seat and offend my wife’s wolf-like sense of smell, the guinea pigs are not the rodents I am most annoyed with this week.

We have a mouse.

Having a sly, slinking, disease-carrying vermin is bad enough when you only have the evidence of gnawed waffle boxes and droppings behind the coffee maker. This one has gotten bold.

I was sitting at my desk the other morning with the cat at my right hand. We leave a stool there of just the right height to allow my to simply reach down and skritch Kestrel’s neck. His food bowl is on the floor two or three feet to the right. As I typed and the cat awaited the next round of skritches, something moved off to my left.

As I sat perfectly still, a small darkish blur loped out of the kitchen, past my book bags, and directly under my seat. Only then did it realize that I was there and zipped back out to the kitchen. My cat, descendant of ancient hunting cats of the African plains, remained in meat loaf mode on the stool, apparently lacking limbs, curiosity or any motivation.

That’s when the glue traps came out.

I set one trap on the counter where the little bastard had left fecal calling cards. I left one behind a piece of equipment that sat next the cat’s bowl. Two more were set in the space between the stove and the cabinet and along the path he took in and out of the kitchen. The open trays of sticky polymer each were topped of with a dab of peanut butter to taste and left to do their jobs.

Two days later and no sign of the mouse. I told my wife that I believed that the mouse had been intimidated by my reputation and fled to Argentina. There, he found a nice local mouse, settled down and had lots of little ex-pat mouse babies.

I left the traps in place, willing to bet on the side of rodent cunning.

About two hours ago,  my cat began acting more strangely than usual. He thumped around the hardwood floor, making a clicking noise like falling poker chips as he moved. As I got up and approached the disturbed but embarrassed feline, I could see a black plastic tray measuring two inches by four stuck to the under side of his tail.

For some reason only known to cats and the Goddess, our cat chose to wheel his hindquarters around behind the equipment in the living room to get another angle at his water bowl.  When he settled down to have a long slurp, he set his tail across the glue trap.

The big problem in situations like this is that the Catching is easy, the Releasing involves some pain and anguish. I snagged the beast before he decided to bolt and somehow adhere himself to a wall or the underside of a table. I took the tail in my right hand and the tray in my left. With utmost  gentleness, I tried to separate the two. Kestrel tried to imitate the tone used for the Emergency Broadcast System.

I pulled the cat free and found three large clumps of black fur held fast in the goo. His tail was not denuded, but there was enough hair to make one adult male eyebrow or a decent Charlie Chaplin mustache.

I still have not seen a second sign of the mouse, but I think the cat and the cavies have warned him off.

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