The Big C

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The Three Cathy Jamisons

Not even Adam is interested in their crazy helpful meal, so Cathy takes herself back to the king of the garbage. "Sean," she says, rattling his shipping container, heavy metal echoing. "I want you to come for dinner tomorrow. I have a big casserole that is most likely organic and not tasty." Sean hasn't even been to the house, he says, since Christmas. "And even then, Paulie made me sit at the fucking kiddie table."

That is a dynamic that hasn't come up before; bears watching when it does. Cathy swears to her brother that Paul won't be there, but more importantly that things will be changing. Softness and joy in her eyes. Passport to a new family. "You're my people, and I want my people to eat bad casserole with me." Sean isn't sure whether to be scared or touched, but soon he doesn't have to.

Up drives Daphne, who calls Sean "Sexy" and gives him a big old kiss. They are awful together; she brought in her hybrid a day-old tray of sushi. "You don't bathe, and yet you have a lady?" He stews, Sean says, in his maleness; he says it's catnip to women. He rubs his homeless body on his sister, like always, grossing her out, and she laughs and fights. Daphne's confused, because she didn't know Sean had a sister. Daphne, it seems, not only works at Whole Foods but also reads auras. Cathy invites them both for dinner -- "I would love to get to know any girl who would date my homeless brother" -- and rides away again. Daphne says this is "awesome," and that she doesn't eat anything with eyes, and Cathy rolls her eyes as she rolls her bike away again: "'Awesome.'"

Cathy wakes up next morning with a grin on her face; the luxurious feeling of Paul, licking one sweet calf. Of course, it is not Paul. Paul is staying with his sister. It's Thomas the dog, a beagle on a mission, a man with a message. She quirks one eyebrow at herself and takes him downstairs again. Paul stands in the hallway downstairs, with a bouquet of orange daisies in hand; Cathy asks him he's taking the vase, too. Paul pleads his troth, it goes like this:

"No. These are for you. I don't know which end is up, Cathy. You won't tell me how you feel, and Angela tells me how I should feel. But all I feel is like a flip-floppin' mess of a man."

Because of sleep apnea Paul Jamison needs someone to turn him over when he stops breathing ("ten or twelve times a night"). That person was once Cathy, but now it's only his sister, who is useless: "She goes out line dancing and drinking every night with other divorcees."

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The Big C

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