Troubled Kato [part 3]

Kato observed the entire play from his big, black favorite couch in the living room at a safe distance. That his parents were the dramatis personae was bleakly captivating. In a certain regard he wished for peace and calm but on another, more urgent level he was very curious to see what it would look and sound like: one person killing another. The laptop was sitting atop his lap, sleek, anthracite dark and the Internet was opened to a Wiki page on “interpersonal mediation”.

The knife’s handle bounced off of Harvey’s temple and he immediately made for his wife. The symbolic interactional phase was over, no more words or headshakes. Kato’s father grabbed his mother around her pale, thin throat as though he had done this a thousand times before, practiced and began strangling. Helen the elder did not so much as make an attempt to defend herself. Instead it looked as though she were trying to recline against the kitchen counter, so as to get more comfortable dying.

Outside the living room on the sprawling meadow, July, late afternoon, Kato’s sister, her pink skirt fluttering like a specious banner of harmony, was chasing after a butterfly. Which if she caught it, the classical, orange and black Danaus Plexippus, she was going to asphyxiate in an overturned tumbler. Slowly diminishing flutters, the pixie dust of the wings. For her collection.

Finally Harvey was flush up against Helen who was flush up against the counter, beginning to look blue in the face. Blue being a color that has always been extremely befitting of the Kuhns: aristocratic, composed, well-veiled wealth.

Kato was sitting still, his heart pounding gallons. His father was carrying on with the business of killing his mother who ever so slowly was bringing up her left hand: a big-bladed, lethal-looking kitchen knife. Unable to turn her head in its direction, she looked over at it then back at her husband then at the big knife again, waggling it minutely to catch his attention. Her husband finally got the message, looked over at the butcher implement, understood reluctantly and let go off her. Helen gasped and let the knife clatter to the kitchen floor.

Kato, momentarily disappointed and imagining what it would feel like to have such a big knife rammed into his torso, decided right then and there never to get married.


Kato’s father’s favorite saying is “Don’t mess up Kato, just don’t mess it up”. He doesn’t clarify specifically what Kato is supposed to not mess up, thus maintaining the ominous charge of the words. Anything could be messed up at any time and it is Kato’s obligation towards his father that this must not happen.

When he wants to read, Kato’s father always retires into a little, naked, bright white concrete room in the basement, “the bunker”. It is evidently the only place in the house sterile enough for Harvey to indulge the possibility of a world outside the everyday calamities of family life.

The room is three meters in every direction and there is only a small wooden table and chair plus whatever book Kato’s father is reading at the time. He is down there now, reading “The Book of Disquiet”. His son is observing him from behind, framed by the thick, steel frame of the door and the white spill of light. His father is bent over forward above the dented table, his hair only streaky remains of what once might have been a lush, brown coiffure, advertising youth and the spirit of enterprise. The bright orange ear protectors for heavy construction work are clamped over his head tightly as if to preserve it from brainy explosion.

Kato is once again acutely aware of what a good opportunity this would be to finish him off, especially what a nice effect the red and the white would produce in their stark contrast. He could even set up a camera on a tripod and make a tableau for posterity (“Patricide” by Kato Kuhn), which would endure the ages, the crumbling of civilizations, a.s.f [1]

Kuhn unclamps the orange shells and slowly turns around, his face sculpted into a mask of minor irritation.

–       Yes?

–       Promise me not to get mad.

His father’s voice leaps up an octave at once.

–       I… promise…you? No, Kato, absolutely not. Just tell me what happened. Tell me what is it my genius first-born son has been up to, again.

–       Just don’t get mad. At least I’m down here, telling you myself.

–       This is on my reading time that you come down to tell me yet again, you’ve messed up Kato. I’m mad already! Just shoot.

Kato wishes he meant it in that other sense.

–       I got a one-week suspension. It’s… it was nothing I did. Mr. Margiano, the guy has such a hard-on for…

–       Awgh dear Heavens Kato! Will you listen to yourself? It’s always somebody else, isn’t it? Your second suspension and still you’re pointing fingers at others, damnit. You know how this makes our family look? Do you have any flipant idea? The Levovskys and Fineklsteins will laugh their heads off over this. Let’s not even consider Bruto.

Kato’s father gets up from his chair, straightens up, effectively transforming himself from a feeble little animal into a towering leviathan who looks not only into the distance but the future itself. Kato tries to retire into his thoughts but the Mandrill, resolute, pushes him back out into the confrontation.

–       I apologize father. I never intended any ill effect for our family’s name. I merely…

–       Shush. Enough. I’ve heard enough of your talk to last me two life times, Kato. Talk is all it is. I keep telling you not to bungle matters and then you go ahead and do like mine was the advice of just another buddy, not your father. Your father, Kato!

–       Yes, I just…

–       No, be still. Follow me.

[1] and so forth


About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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