One time when I was walking down the street, I saw Kenneth Branagh. I said, Hey! Kenneth Branagh! I loved your adaptation of _Much Ado About Nothing_! And your work in _Wild Wild West_! I mean wow! And he said, Thank you, you’re too kind. And I said, no, really, you’re great, Ken! And then I noticed that Kenneth Branagh looked kind of beat. And I said, Hey, Kenny B, you look kind of beat! And he said, Oh, it’s nothing big, really. It’s just my cat, he said. My cat has feline distemper. Distemper! I said. That’s terrible! But you’re in luck, Kappa Kappa Branagh, I said. My best friend Dan is a vet, and he specializes in feline distemper! And so I gave Kenneth Branagh the number of my best friend Dan, who is a vet who specializes in feline distemper. Anyway, later that night I told my wife the whole story. And she said, Arthur, be serious. And I said, I am a very serious guy!

Because I am a very serious guy!


For my report I am writing about _Citizen Kane_. Mrs. Lambert told us to pick a movie that we liked and say why we liked it but I couldn’t think of anything and Mom said that _Citizen Kane_ is a good movie, and so I watched it. Mom said it is her favorite movie but I am not sure that it is my favorite movie.

Let me tell you what happens. _Citizen Kane_ is about this boy who likes sledding. Then he grows up and starts some newspapers. And he has a wife. And he lives in a castle. My favorite part of the movie is that in the castle he has all these rugs made from bears.

Probably you want me to tell you how it ends. How it ends is, everyone is wondering what rosebud is but Mom said I shouldn’t say what rosebud is. Rosebud is the last thing that _Citizen Kane_ says before he dies but you find that out right at the beginning, so it is OK that I said that. I hope you enjoyed reading my report.


On the TV, on the police procedural, two detectives are talking with a little kid. Now, Billy, the tall one says, we just want to ask you a few questions. The short one says, But don’t worry if you don’t know the answer. Just try your hardest. Billy (he is the little kid) nods his head. Did you see anyone you’d never seen before? says the tall one. No, Billy says. Do you remember seeing anything weird, anything at all? the short one says. Billy says, No, I don’t think so. I just heard a real loud noise.

OK, says the tall one. We are going to try something a little different. The short one says, here are some crayons, and some paper. Why don’t you draw us a picture of that day. OK, Billy says. Billy takes the crayons, and he takes the paper. The two detectives watch. Billy draws a tabby cat standing next to a flower. What is that? says the tall one. The short one says, Can you tell us about your drawing? It’s my cat, says Billy. His name is Max. He is stripey.

There is a break for commercial. I know who did it. It was Billy’s mother.


I can’t put it together. I’ve tried, but I can’t. The first attempt, it came out a bookshelf—not what I’d intended. The second, one of those towers for cats to play on. I don’t have a cat. So I re-read the instructions—maybe I was doing something wrong. I followed each step to the letter, an a half-hour later found I’d constructed a doll’s house. I paused, thought. Yes! I thought. That’s it! I was one hundred percent sure the instructions were upside-down. I rotated the manual, took apart my tiny mansion room-by-room. Started from scratch: hammered, nailed, sawed, glued, sand-papered. Screwed, wrenched, painted; wrung my hands and ran them through my hair.

I stepped back to see what I had made. It was a tree, a terrible, beautiful tree. With a gold and purple trunk, twisting and knotted up into filligreed branches. The leaves, when they moved, sang like a tower of dishes lifted up into a high cupboard. (I think they (the leaves) were made of some kind of china.)And the roots! They snaked in all directions, to each corner of my living room, under and over tables and chairs and the sofa.

This was yesterday. Today, the tree still stands. I will have to un-assemble it. Like the bookshelf, the tower, the doll’s house, it is not what I’d meant to build. But this is the problem: I threw out the box the parts came in days ago, and I’m so, so tired from all this constructing and de-constructing. Hard as I try, I can’t remember exactly what it is I meant to make.