Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Things like this probably happen all the time and always quite quickly. Afterwards, when things were calmer, I said, “Wow, that happened really fast.” As if some slow motion camera trick should have made it move a little slower to better understand it all.
Why did the cat cross the road? Don’t really know but it ended crushed under a brown sedan in an arc of twists and spastic convulsions right in front of our driveway. The thing jumped about in demon possessed fits, bouncing like a fish gasping for air, one of its eyes had become detached and it too bounced with its own squishy squashy sounds on the pavement.
The culprit, a late model sedan, kept on driving on down the street; it was out of sight by the time Gisele pulled over and we got out of the car. She was all maternal and hormonal because of the baby inside her and she drew out a teary wet wail; she opened the doors of whatever afterlife that thing had in store with her own feelings of loss and grief. I wasn’t as touched by the moment as I was awed by the event.
As its impulses and nerve endings began to give up so did the convulsive hysteria and it settled into meandering twitching until finally nothing. It’s deflated eyeball still attached by bloody sinewy tendrils to its skull. I just stood there, bearing witness to its closing ceremony.
Gisele ran inside to get Benny in hopes that he could offer some advice and possible consolation; he’s the clear-headed one in these types of situations.
I recognized the now dead carcass in front of me. It was less than a year old and its mother was a regular at our doorstep. I’m sure it and all its siblings were born under the house. The matron feline now watched as one of her offspring passed away, perched on the ledge of the flower bed, like an Egyptian statue made of dark stone, her eyes wide and fixed on her child.
Benny came out and looked at the pitiful object now lying before him. Gisele noticed the mother watching and attempted to console her for her loss. It ran, not knowing enough of the human need for closure and compassion. We all agreed that it deserved a proper burial, even though we couldn’t dig up a hole and drop it in. The land was rented and wasn’t ours to do with as we pleased. Instead the county animal control would be called in the morning to come and retrieve it. I mentioned that with any luck they could send a truck out here sometime before the dead thing begins to compost and we’d be left with the skeletal remains before bureaucracy’s wheel started moving. Benny agreed but felt it would be the right thing to do, Gisele mentioned that she would make sure it would get done, even if she had to call them a few dozen times.
Later that night, I could hear the other strays mawling and meowing while I lay in bed. I imagined that they were mourning the loss of one of their own; somehow it made the whole event more appropriate thinking that. Looking out the window I noticed some of them fighting and growling, a few of the more dominate and aggressive males had taken to feeding on the dead; desperate times. The ones eating of the flesh were older, their fur matted with filth and missing in some areas, mangier than the rest that usually stay near the houses; tomcats that probably came from the other side of the park or from somewhere else entirely. Some of the local strays were fighting for territory and privilege and the bigger toms were attempting to keep them back and winning. The dangling eyeball had already been consumed and one of the cannibals was burrowing into the skull through the opening.
The sound of war continued and was getting fiercer. Something had to be done if I was going to get some sleep; I threw on some shoes and grabbed a large black trash bag. As I stepped out the door many of the cats fled, except the few braver ones and the two intruders, approaching the carcass the remainder of the group fled except the one tom that had been fighting for his right to eat. The concept of being stared down by a flea bitten cat is one of those things you don’t expect to happen in our day-to-day lives. He began growling and poised itself for attack, a medium sized stone to the head sent it scurrying.
Using the plastic as a shield I grabbed the body and was able to pull the bag around it, lifting it up properly. With a quick walk across the empty lot in front of the house I was at the fence to the yard crew’s facility; a large blue dumpster was on the other side. One full arm swing and the bag and partially eaten cat landed with an echoing boom. Walking back the matron feline was at her perch, watching me with eyes the color of mourning.