RECOMMENCE by Jim Ruland

Carol is calling from Los Angeles. She wants to know how the cat piece is going. The cat piece isn’t going is how it’s going. I write for a golf magazine. Not the magazine per se, but the blog. A golf blog. I hate everything about it. Its obsession with swing mechanics. Its upper crust entitlement. I even hate the way it sounds. Golf blog. It reminds me of the noise that escaped from my brother-in-law the time he got a piece of $6 gristle stuck in his windpipe and almost died. When the waiter delivered his filet mignon he’d cut it into pieces and calculated the price of each bite. Damn right I’m eating the gristle. This is a $6 piece of gristle. And they say there’s no justice in this world. Carol wants a cat piece for the golf blog because “cats are Internet.” I don’t even know how to parse that sentence, yet I know exactly what she means. I’m the fashion writer, which means I have to find a way to bring golf and fashion and cats together in a way that will make golfers want to click on every hyperlink and banner ad on the page. Welcome to my $6 gristle. I can hear voices in the background, the gently mocking commands of Vietnamese aestheticians, which means Carol’s at the salon getting her putting surface waxed. Carol makes verbs out of the names of websites and signs off. The combination of golf + fashion + cats sends me to sites where the word “catwalk” is prominently positioned. One of them links me back to one of my own pieces. I chop up some off-brand Xanax and try my luck with videos and end up in a wormhole of cats imbued with powers that nature never intended. Fighting cats. Flying cats. Magic cats scorching mice with laser beams shooting out of their eyes. Then: pay dirt. A kitten on a putting green playing with a golf ball. Adorable. Ovary melting even. The kitten bats the ball around and then pounces on it. The ball squirts away and the ritual recommences over and over again until the dimpled sphere rolls toward the hole with dreadful finality and disappears in the cup. Camera closes in on the kitten with its WTF? Face before pulling back on a golf clapping foursome, every one of them dressed to the nines. I hit refresh a couple hundred times and wake up to the sound of the phone. It’s Carol. She wants to know how the cat piece is coming. I look at the screen and a video plays of little girl burying a shoebox in the ground sing-saying, Bye-bye, Fluffy. Bye-bye, Fluffy. Bye-bye, Fluffy. Goodbye.