Eddie Sebastian, Private Eye
Ed is a twenty year old cat. He is the oddest animal I've ever known.
note: Today would have been Eddie Sebastian, Private Eye"'s 25th birthday. This was written four years ago. Eddie left this planet in 2008...I think to go back to the planet he came from.
Ed is, in his own mind, many things: a Bon Vivant; a Devil With The Ladies, an Internationally Acclaimed Sculptor...also? the Official Greeter for my building, a Fighter of Dogs, and (as we shall see) a MAJOR Player on the New York Real Estate Scene.
In real life? Eddie is a skinny orange-striped eunuch with white eyebrows: his fancy fur is the exact color orange of the hip leatherette vinyl jackets worn by Starsky and Hutch-type private eyes in 1970's copshows. But Ed has never let reality bother him: when a pretty lady friend walks into my apartment, he strolls over to her, his inner Barry White Love Soundtrack obviously playing a seductive disco beat, and then, when she is seated, he lies on his back across one of her feet, the better to show off his belly.
And, indeed...the Ladies go crazy over him, proving yet again that confidence is everything. One pretty lady friend of mine, the glamourous TamTam, actually stitched Ed a heartshaped red pillow- stuffed with catnip!- AND, with the words "I Love Ed", embroidered on the front in white cursive script. I was touched. Ed never said thank you. But he loves his comfy token of devotion: sometimes he uses it as a pillow, sometimes as a toy... but sometimes? I find it under the bookcase, because Eddie likes to make it clear that no woman can own him, baby. He never made no promises. He is a free n easy swinger. He is his own man. Or would be, if he was a man, rather than, say, a relatively minuscule quadruped with orange eyebrows, and an ego the size of Detroit.
Some years ago, my friend Adam, an artist, asked if he could borrow Ed, the better to deal with a sudden Mouse Problem in Adam's studio. I said, "Sure." So Ed went to live there for a while, spending his leisure time intently watching the artist paint and sculpt. Obviously, Ed took notes, because one night we walked into the studio, to find that Ed has made his own, site-specific sculptural art piece: he had surrounded the cat food tin on the floor, with nine perfectly symmetrical piles of "homogenous found materials."
If I'd been thinking straight, i would have photographed it and then found him a dealer and a gallery. By now, you might be reading, instead of this, a piece about Ed's current retrospective at MOMA.
Since it was a Sunday afternoon with not much else going on, I decided to see how many times he'd repeat his Voyage of Amazing Real Estate Discovery. The answer was? Eighteen times. Each time, he seemed progressively more chuffed. Each time, he repeated his tour of triumphant inspection. Each time, you could see him mentally trying to keep track of how many servants he had NOW. 18 apartments. 36 servants. And a market value of, oh...22 million? 24? That's 40 MILLION cans of Little Friskies! [Cat currency is a wee bit different than human's. Their values are much more specific.]
The day we moved into the aforementioned apartment on President Street, I was piling up boxes, Adam was haggling with the movers, and Ed was exploring the fireplace. Suddenly, I heard a "CLANG!" ...and a black cat I'd never seen before, went scooting into the room I was in, and hid under the couch. I couldn't understand where this strange black cat had come from. -And where was Ed? But when I picked up the noir stranger and my hands turned pitch colored, I got suspicious, and put the intruder under the bathroom tap: as the water ran, he gradually revealed himself to be a ginger cat named Ed, who had figured out how to release the thing on the fireplace that held all the soot back, and then got drenched in an avalanche of hundred year old cinders.
For ten years, Eddie Sebastian, Private Eye, had a performance art ritual that was as ironclad as it was baffling: he did what we called "The Work."
Adam awoke, and listened for a moment. "My God, that IS what it sounds like. What the hell?"
I got up, and, walking into the kitchen, switched on the light, to find Ed sitting there with a "Who, ME?" expression. His golden eyes were wide with completely spurious innocence.
Eyeing him suspiciously, I stood, irresolute, but his innocence convinced me, and I went back to bed.
The next night, 3 a.m., we were awakened by what sounded like someone teaching hamsters to poledance.
"Psst! Wake up!" I nudged my fella.
He sat up, and rubbed his eyes, and listened for a moment. then a strange expression crossed his face. "Is there some sort of hamster strip club around here?" he asked.
'It's Ed!" I hissed. "What is he Doing!"
We listened intently for a moment. Then my hus's face relaxed.
"He is doing...The Work."
"Oh. I think you're right." I had to agree.
"And...the Work Must Continue," he said, and started snoring.
This went on for years. I thought it was just a folie a deux, that all married people had delusions about their pets, until a brother in law staed overnight i the study. In the moening, Pete got up and I found himsearching throught he trash.
"What are you DOING, dude? I made you a nice breakfast, it's on the table, you don't actually forage for scraps, you know."
He muttered "yeah, yeah.." distractedly. the he straightened up and faced me squarely.
Listen," he said, "I could swear I heard someone building a small, dog-powered diriible last night." He looked defiant." I know that sounds crazy.But it was an inexplicable yet very specific noise."
"Oh, THAT," I said, releived. "That was just...The Work."
At that moment, Ed strolled by, tail in the air.
"And, "I continued, "the Work..Must Continue."
"Oh, okay, "said pete. "Then I want coffee."
Many years later, after Ed parols the hallway here twice a day, and greets visitors by officiously showing them the many amenities of the uilding, such as the stairs, the floor, the stairs again and the place where I once dropped a platter of fried chicken (a day that will live forever as a golden memory for Ed), and after he challeneges the two pitbulls who belong to the nice lesbian postal workers on the sixth floor to a duel (thank god Susan, their main walker, has very good leash control), he comes back in, and after checking to see if there are any ladies aside from me, he sits in his favorite place. the inside of a the base of a wicker stool. It's round and perfect for an old guy to curl up in, and hecan also keep an eye on what's going on, in case pit bulls or Pretty ladies stop by and Action needs to be taken.
These days, he's not as spry as he used to be. I noticed recently that he doesn't hear me when I say "Ed man, I'm home, pal!" and he can't hear the celestial sound of a can openin. Sometimes he falls over, but I always act like I don't see, and he gets up again and starts nonchalantly cleaning the one area on his bod he cleans, a ptch the size of a quarter near his right leg. Pointless, but apparently VERY important.
He has to take medicine, and his eye is a little cloudy, and I think he might be nearing his last days, but he's proved me wrong before. But just in case, some nights I sleep in the floor, because he can't make it up the ladder to the loft bed, and he cries when he feels he is not getting his fair share of attention. he retired from the Work soe four ears ago. Except one night, when my friend Jennifer stayed over, a longtime Pretty Lady friend and admirerer or Ed's.
As I was making coffe in the morning, she said, "Is it possible that someone was teaching mice carpentry here last night? I swear I thought I heard really tiny sawing."
I asked, carefully, "What tie was this, Jenjen?"
She tought for a moment. "Oh...maybe 3 a.m?"
I smiled. The Master had come out of retirement. Like Sinatra, Like Streisnad, like he great masters before him, he always had one last tirck up his sleeve for his admirers.
because..the Work Must Continue.
And so I wrap myself in a blanket on the carpet, solemnly hand Ed his red heartshaped pillow, and we both settle down for a cat nap, dreaming of catnip, fried chicken, and...The Work.
love from me and eddie