I have a friend who is nagged by this memory of a very indecent Garfield comic strip. He says it is actually quite sexy, but incredibly perverse, and not just because it involves an anthropomorphic cat and meatloaf. He says it haunts him nightly. He’s been losing sleep over it. He can see the strip clear as day in his head, but has yet to find it in real life. He doesn’t even like Garfield that much, and never has, so he knows it is not a thing he has purely invented. He knows he must have seen it somewhere, and when he did see it, he thought: Gosh, that’s perverse. That’s perverse for a kid’s comic, he thought. He tries to explain the comic strip but can’t. He sees it in his head but can’t describe it out loud. The words don’t come. He worries that this is either because (A) he has secretly invented the sexy Garfield comic strip in the fabric of his own mind, or (B) he has a brain tumor and/or early onset dementia. Even with these options very much in play as objective realities, he adamantly denies inventing the Garfield comic strip. He says it exists. He talks and talks about it as if it exists. I let him talk about it. I call that tenderness.

SHANE KOWALSKI was born outside of Philadelphia. He is a lecturer at Cornell University. His work appears or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, Electric Literature, The Offing, Hobart, Wildness, and elsewhere.