The Mercury Apartment building in downtown Greeley Colorado is usually, a quiet place for me and my Calico cat Bonkers to live, but tonight, the party noise is driving Bonkers, well, bonkers. Me too, as the crazy cat ran around my lumpy sofa fifty times before heading up the Christmas tree.
Sally, what is wrong with you? I asked myself then answered, you're lazy, that's what -it's New Year's, and you still have your pathetic Christmas tree up in the corner. Generally, New Year's Eve is filled with jocose laughter and celebration for everyone except you, Sally, I said while looking in the mirror. I talk to myself often; I am the only person I invite to chat. I speak to Bonkers, but so far, she hasn't answered. "Does this make me look fat?" I asked Bonkers as she licked her paws. With a roll of her feline eyes, she let me know the answer is yes, yes, you look like a tub of lard, Sally.
I thought about stopping in at the party, but I couldn't find anything to wear in a growing pile of no-goes in my fashion discourse. I put on the little black dress I had purchased ten years ago for the New Year's Eve party, remembering I hadn't gone to that party either. It didn't fit then, nor does it now; I purchased it on a brief spell of wishful diet thinking. Bonks glanced my way and let me know right away how she felt about this number by licking her private parts. Then like now, I was worried the people there wouldn't like me. They would say, "Oh, who is that fatty over there. I wonder if she looked in the mirror before coming out." Worse yet, they would laugh at me.
They would notice my ugly hooked nose and crooked tooth. Yes, I knew perfect strangers thought of me as the ugly witch in Hansel and Gretel. "No one would speak to me because they would think I eat children, or worse yet cats!" I said to carefree Bonks, who could care less as she fell asleep with my indecision and discontentment.
I continued the conversation with myself, speaking to that horrific reflection looking back at me in the mirror; Sally Jett, you have a most peculiar way of socializing-as in you just don't. I mostly talked to myself aloud, generally with malice and self-persecution, about my weight, hair, hips, and being single at thirty-eight. Occasionally, I would speak to my cat in complaint about the cat hair and scratches on the furniture; good thing Bonkers doesn’t talk back. I'm not sure if I could handle two pessimistic attitudes.
Take Mick, Sally; he is your good-looking single neighbor. Sally, tonight, you will hear the laughter penetrating the mutual wall the two of us share. You will sit around and lament because you're alone while all along you could have been there; you were invited.
After all, Mick invited all his neighbors. But look at you; I said as I looked in the mirror and shrieked as my reflection had rolls of fat, jiggling, and bouncing around under the black simplex gown, making it look like I had four sets of breasts. I tore the dress off myself; the most certain ugly Sally ripped the dress to pieces. No sense talking about it, I thought to myself as I put on my pajamas and sat on my sofa with a bag of potato chips.
Bonkers started to fade back to something of a feral state as I started to watch a Richard Gere movie on TV. I loved 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar' back in college, and I was sure I could tolerate the bleeped-out tube version now. Bonkers hid behind the corner of the sofa, trying to cut my foot with her sharp claws. I kicked at her perhaps a little too hard as she jumped up on the couch, using it as a diving board headed for the tree. Up the Christmas tree, she scurried, and I jumped up to pull her down as the tree has fallen over a couple of times this year due to Bonkers cat chaos. I hurriedly pulled one of the two retro chrome kitchen chairs that I, stupidly, paid over 100 bucks to recover with authentic pink striped silk under vintage plastic. I stood up on the coveted plastic cushion to get Bonkers down. One problem, Bonkers was gone; the cat had disappeared.
"Bonks, where are you? Here kitty-kitty." I called out as I found myself on tippy toes with a death grip on the top of my tree. Sally the klutz, Sally the idiot, as I call myself, felt the ornaments popping from the pressure of my grasp.
"Meow, mew, meow!" Bonkers was using her panic call, so I climbed into the tree without thinking. That's when I saw the hole in the ceiling.
"What the hell happened here," Sally, the Queen of the ridiculous, said in a panic. "Shit, this place is going to keep my deposit. The money I cannot af..fo..rd!" Sounding like a cartoon character, I couldn't quite get the word 'afford' out before I was sucked up through the hole.
"Meow," Bonkers licked my ugly nose to bring me to.
In a waking voice, I asked, "Where are we, Bonks?"
Bonkers replied by sticking her butt in the air expecting a good hard rub. Instead, I grabbed her and searched for the exit back to our apartment, but there wasn't one.
I thought I was mad when my only thought was, When they found out Bonkers and Sally, the fat girl, were sitting alone on a massive amount of cotton candy, they would laugh, not with me, but at me. That's what it was, pink and blue cotton candy; I had tasted it to be sure. I took one bite, then another, and another. I had imagined it, I'm sure, but couldn't stop eating it. After consuming at least two trash bags packed full, I noticed the clear window at the bottom of the cotton candy-type substance.
Sally, you big chicken shit, look down, I said as I forced myself to look; I opened one eye then the other to find a good view of my neighbor Mick's apartment. I saw myself at the party dressed in the old prom dress I had kept for several years until the material was moth-eaten and the rose-colored taffeta was faded so bad, I had to throw it all away. But how, why did it appear. The dress miraculously fit; all my flab had flattened! What a wicked nightmare I must be dreaming, but I like it, I thought.
I watched myself in that dress at that party for quite a while, wishing I had brought along my potato chips to munch on while observing. Then my alternate-Sally was asking Mick something. Panicked at not being able to hear, I moved Bonkers aside and put my ear on the round glass-like window.
"Can you borrow me your baking pan?" I listened to my alternate ask.
The dreamlike Mick replied, "My dear-dear Sally, you must say, Mick, can you lend me a baking pan?"
"I thought that's what I said, lover," thin alternate Sally replied. Then I watched my alternate narrow-hipped, beautiful self strip down to nakedness and throw herself at Mick. Why am I seeing this? I thought with a jealous pang; I had dreamed of throwing myself at Mick several times, but not like this. Much more realistically, crushing him with all 200 pounds of myself.
Just then, the window started to break, making a terrible cracking sound. I found Bonkers and myself falling in free flight. Down and down, we went spinning out of control, dropping at least thirty floors. "How can this be Bonkers? How can any of this be? We live in apartment 404 on the top floor of the mundane Mercury Apartment building. Now we are somewhere unfamiliar to me. How about you, kitty?" I questioned Bonkers.
You're such an idiot, Sally; you must know we have fallen into a funhouse -I snickered at myself. I went to an amusement park in Denver years ago to adventure through their glass and mirror maze, and for some reason, I thought that's where we were, but we were not. Instead, we had landed in a church with large stain-glassed windows and an influential ornate pulpit.
With that, I heard what sounded like "Here comes the bride," only I listened to the kid version sung by four high-pitched balding gentlemen all dressed in tuxedos, "Here comes the bride, big fat and wide."
I noticed that no one saw Bonkers, or I hid behind the flower arrangements to the right of the alter. No one saw us because, on closer inspection, I saw no eyes or noses on all the faces seated on the groom's side. However, they all did have giant mouths with sharp teeth, enough to make the cat hiss.
No one was sitting on the bride's side.
I moved closer to the groom; however, he had his back to me. All I could see from my flowery advantage were the chattering teeth, all with red lips. Red from the blood dripping down their carnivorous fangs.
"Here comes the groom, skinny as a broom," the four gentlemen continued to sing.
The groom was Mick, only a tiny, frail version of him, and I saw yet another version of myself as the flabby bride. It appeared I had gained at least 300 pounds. The faceless minister said you may now kiss the bride with the mouth he had on his bible. That is when I saw this obese horrifying Sally eat Mick. She ate him down to his bones.
Grabbing Bonkers, I ran from my devilish self. I ran into the fog outside the church. It seemed like I ran a mile in record time. I was carrying Bonkers, who wasn't the smallest cat in the world, but Bonks became lighter and lighter. I looked down to see she was only a cat's skeleton when I reached the front gates of an upscale version of the Mercury.
I fell to my knees, dropped Bonkers bones, and looked up at the sleek thirty floors, then implored myself; and if I could have grabbed my own shoulders, I would have. I persecuted myself with-Why, Sally, why must you overthink and analyze every situation. Your psychologist told you that someday you would drive yourself mad concerning yourself only with potential stressors while never considering spiritual calm. Well, you have done it, you fat ugly creature; you have caused yourself madness.
With those thoughts weighing on my self-consciousness, I entered the exaggerated apartment building again. Having not taken keys down this bizarre rabbit hole, I tried to buzz Mick's apartment.
"Come on, answer your buzzer, you asshole." I screamed into the speaker, "I know you're home and having that insidious party, and I think you killed my cat." I noticed anger overcame me and decided to take it out on the row of buttons on the intercom. While pounding on them, I the malcontent-Sally saw they all read Mick Goodbar, and the harder she hit, the more there were. Now they all read, Mr. Goodbar. A couple more blows filled the wall with buttons.
Malcontent-Sally threw herself on them, punching and kicking, eventually biting a few. With tears rolling down her cheeks and blood flowing from her fingertips, she fell into a hideous heap of a new unchartered self; meek-Sally wept on the floor.
The tiny door, once brown, was now white and enormous. It opened slowly to a freak replica of Mick's apartment furnished in white. There were replicated partygoers, all cut-out shadow figures in white cardboard, and the floor was covered in the same cotton-candy like substance I had seen before. A banner in black and gold that read Happy New Year 1984 looked elegant above all the white. The live revelers in the back were from the outrageous wedding; the four gentlemen, now dressed in white tuxedos joyfully sang a dithyramb as if they were dancing through Athens. Behind the shadows strolled Mick, dressed in white, holding a purring most content, Bonkers.
Mick, looking like an angel pure of thought yet on a mission, put Bonkers down, folded his hands, and bowed. "Namaste," he said and smiled. He was a charming and strangely convivial party host — and in his free-flowing white kurta with the standing collar, he was handsome too.
The meek side of me asked, "Are you real, Mick?"
"Yes, Sally, I'm here in your Nirvana, but only if you deliberately create peace, happiness, and contentment within your thoughts. Your cat was looking for you." Mick spoke as if far away yet standing close.
In a childlike voice, my meek-Sally persona asked, "We're you, my neighbor? Please excuse all my questions, but I have lost my mind."
Mick smiled and said in a pleasant, cheerful voice, "You have not lost your mind, sweetheart, only your peace of mind. Your inner peace is missing temporarily, and I am here in your thoughts to help you gain enough knowledge and understanding to keep yourself strong in the face of discord or stress."
I tried to sit down on his white sofa but fell to the floor, holding my head; I wailed, "I must admit I am highly stressed and filled with anxiety." My meek-Sally had a brief feeling of hostility, but it passed like a burp in the night.
Mick grabbed my meek-Sally hand and passed her a potent dose of self-awareness, "Dear Sally, your mind is overwhelmed, crammed with useless thoughts and a lot of junk. There is no free space to relax, play and imagine. After living this way for a long time, you got used to it, no matter how uncomfortable and unpleasant. You might dislike it sometimes, but you have done nothing about it. What you are experiencing is precisely the state of your mind without inner peace. You have gone through your negative thoughts, fears, worries, and endless thinking tonight. Were there any new or different thoughts? No, your mind is in a state of tension and stress, constantly jumping from one idea to another, overthinking everything."
I felt disbelief amongst the calm and became a disbelieving Sally. "Mick, I can't do what you say. I'm not a Buddhist nor a Hindu; I was baptized a Baptist but lost religion entirely along the way. Since childhood, I have been this way; I was raised in a crazy household with no rhyme or reason amongst the clutter in my mind. To let go of it now will cause me significant loss, and I will indeed lose my mind, Mick."
"It's ok, Sally," Mick spoke now like my therapist. "Imagine that everything you saw and did tonight was from my imagination, not yours. Imagine emptying your mind. Look how much room you have to reorganize and only keep your essential thoughts. How do you feel? Isn't there an exhilarating feeling of joy?"
Mick continued, only now sounding like my father, "Because of this Nirvana, you can move freely and find everything easily, even your inner peace. Suddenly, you realize that you can keep it this way; seeing your lost Nirvana will give you an incredible feeling of joy and power. If you wish to include spirituality, there is plenty of room, but you must take it upon yourself to decide. As a Hindu and in simple terms, I have invited my soul back into my personal Nirvana. You, as a Baptist can do the same. Just allow your faith to grow and thrive in whichever direction you may choose."
Disbelieving-Sally waned and then repeated Mick's words, "When I empty my mind of unnecessary thoughts, fears, and worries, it becomes accessible, and I can enjoy a sense of inner peace, complete Nirvana." She repeated these words over and over again.
Mick grabbed me around the waist and led me to the sofa. This action of human touch felt so good that my new Sally self smiled and swooned in admiration.
He said in a soothing voice, "I saw you rush outside yesterday for groceries or what, I don't know. I noticed you did not stop to gaze at the beauty that surrounded you, such as frost upon the windows nor the red beauty of the new winter sun. Spending the precious time we have observing God's love and creations is worthwhile to brighten one's soul; I say first thing in the morning on the glorious new year, we stroll hand in hand together to search for the beauty in this world, my love."
With that, I awoke on my lumpy couch to potato chips all over Bonkers and me. "Bonks, wake up," I said to the sleeping cat. "You were fast asleep on my stomach, and my wind-up alarm clock says it is four minutes to midnight."
I let Bonks lay there and went over to the apartment door, I opened it with sheer amazement as an unseen hand had filled my doorway with flowers, and the red sun was gleaming brightly through the window at the end of the hallway. The sun at Midnight? I questioned my eyes; then I heard Mick's sweet alternate voice.
"Frankly, you have tried your best to quell your happiness by spending many years alone. You see Sally, I have been watching you. Now, pretty girl, get dressed and come to the real Micks party! It's almost Midnight, and you don't want to miss shouting, Happy New Year and Happy New Life!"