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Just for One Day

David Bowie couldn’t pay his rent. He stood in his kitchen, gazed out the window that overlooked the snowy yard. “We could be heroes,” he said, to his hungry cat, but the cat didn’t care. She sat by her food dish, waiting for him to provide.

From upstairs he heard the TV. It was only 9 a.m., but Iman had already started her binge watching for the day. Some people on the TV were shouting. Goodness, he thought, by lunch she’ll be angry.

He put on his coat, which had turned gray, and he stepped through the door and onto his street, which had turned gray. The snow had just turned to rain.

Since his death, everything had changed, though everything was the same. He was still David Bowie, the rock star, father, husband, lover of large things and small things, but his feet were cold and his assets were frozen.

He needed to go downtown, talk to the bankers. It was all just a mistake, a mix-up, to do with his name, that upon death should have reverted to Jones. But the busses had stopped running, or had changed routes, or no longer existed.

At the next block was the corner shop. The woman behind the counter nodded to him and he headed for the magazines. Prince had died and the tributes were starting to arrive. “I hope,” he said aloud, “you’ve filed your paperwork, Mr. Rogers Nelson. It’s quite the drag otherwise.”

He set the magazines and cat food on the counter. “On credit?” he said.

The woman shook her head. “Can’t do it.”

“Just this last time?” he answered.

The woman looked at him. “Don’t you have a coin jar at home? Something under the mattress?

David shrugged. “Not my style. Or not anymore. There’s something…vivid in a jar full of coins, don’t you think?” He grinned. “I’m more black and white these days, you know? Gray?”

The woman put the things in a bag and handed it to him. “No,” she said, “I don’t know. Most of us stay the same. Same people, same name, same colors. Only folks like you can afford otherwise.”

He laughed. “Apparently not.”

She rolled her eyes at him, and he smiled, and she smiled back. “No more,” she said.

Out on the street some little girls were trying to coax a kitten out from under a car. “Here, puss puss,” they called, the kitten hunched resolutely dead middle of the undercarriAge.

“Can you help us?” they said. “She needs to come home.”

David set his bag on the curb and got to his knees. “Here, puss puss,” he called. “Come here, darling.”

The kitten crawled to him, nudged his hand with her forehead, and let him lift her into the crook of his arm. “Don’t scare her now,” he told the little girls.

The oldest one took the kitten from him, and she, the cat, and her sister headed home. “Why are you so bad?” said one of them to the kitten.

Back in his kitchen, David fed his own cat and made some tea. He sat at the table, munching on toast, and watched her eat. “Queen Dilly Dilly?” he said. But she paid him no mind, head in her food dish.


from Always Never Speaking

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