in the room where the two cats slept each in their respective places the wall was a grey-brown and the street sounds could be heard even with the door closed and when the morning was a few minutes away the man woke up with a headache which quickly went away after a glass of water and a brief urination. the cats did not wake when a bus went by despite the aggressive engine moaning as city buses do always moaning as if dehydrated or weary of the settlers sitting upon their seats. when the aggressive bus passed a few sparrows made conversation and the first sparrow said time waits for no man and the second sparrow said nothing will wait in its own way and the first sparrow said you’re a lucky bird to be sitting next to me and the second sparrow flew off to find more worms or berries or seeds in one of the neighboring yards. the man wondered about the bird feeder he put out years ago which is not there anymore he can’t remember how it ended up disappearing if it broke or if it was stolen or if it was taken by a heavy gust of wind but he remembers filling it with seeds and setting it out for the birds though now he wishes it was still there so the second sparrow would have stayed and he could have continued his eavesdropping. now one of the cats has awakened as the man sits in his leather chair and the cat is licking her stomach or biting dead fleas off her flesh or cleaning her underbelly or scratching that one stop that always itches because of feline neuroses. the man watches the cat and remembers how he used to wash his face with the side of his hand that area between thumb and finger that little meaty muscle bit which he would wet with his tongue and then rub on his nose and forehead and eyebrows to remove the sweat and grime of the humid summer days during school when he’d have to spend an hour outside for lunch even on one hundred degree days and he even then knew he was inspired by his cats for they cleaned in their own way so why couldn’t he? and now the other cat, the male, is looking towards the window which is covered in a green curtain which is covered in grey cat hairs balled up and stuck fuzz to the curtain itself which has a highlighted square of light which comes through the window and this cat he senses the activity through the window though he didn’t wake for the tumult of the sound of the city bus moaning its way through potholes and oil spills he now notices the distant creaks of legs and the broken down sedan blocks away as a couple argues over how the change a tire and he calls 411 instead of 911 because of a misdial and she is sweating dismally and the cat he can sense all this in the momentary silence of the city buses and garbage trucks that have already passed by only in this exact silence can he awaken and notice the faraway commotion or that the corner store a block away has opened its doors for the last time and the owner is ready to retire but he’s nothing to retire with he just doesn’t want a repeat of the previous year when the store went up in flames and they were forced to reopen with charred walls and melted potato chip bags because he couldn’t afford to close and so now he wants to sell the property which will be bought happily by some pair of real estate agents with a thirst for demolishing and they’ll build up their own happy-go-lucky american couple in their new house with its new luster and polished wood and concrete foundation slowly sinking in the mud and they’ll have their own arguments over broken down cars and wheels and safety hazards and the alignment of the couch to the window and the stone path in the garden and the driveway gate should it be wooden or metal or let’s just not have one at all let’s just keep it open but then the dog will run out into the street or the kids when we have them the kids will run out into the street and the corner store owner fantasizes sadly about all that will be here after he’s gone but he’ll have a nice fat check and go rent a small condo in the suburbs and go to his own corner store to buy some fruit soda and the cat he smells it all happening like he can smell the future in the green frosted light of the curtain. and now the man is still sitting between the two cats, and he wonders how they know so much and he knows so little as if there’s so little to know and once you have it you can rest and be sure you knew it in your time so maybe that’s why the cats sleep all day and wake all night because the night is still full of mysteries like the conversations of birds and the moaning of automobiles when no one can hear them in the room with the grey-brown and the door closed.