Saturday, September 29, 2007

where stay cats strut

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

the sun is out. there's, at last, a cool-ish breeze and a break in the humidity. the kids who live nearby are playing basketball and riding bikes around the cul-de-sac and across the street they're having a garage sale (nothing i need, though. i checked.). and all the cats are home.

if i had to pick one thing i'll miss most about this place (aside from my darling friends), it would have to be these outside cats.

have i introduced you, yet?

this is william turner. or 'silly willy' as he's sometimes known. when he was a kitten, he would peep at me through a hole in the fence and would come to eat the little bit of cat food the other cats left behind. one day, he finally came close, accepted a scratch behind his right ear and has lived in the yard ever since.

he disappeared for a month last fall and i was beside myself with worry because cars fly through this neighborhood on their way to walmart and the wild dogs in the field are always looking for a tiny cat feast.

but suddenly one morning, as i was readying myself for work and while the shade in the bathroom was drawn so far down i could only see the whites of some little cat feet, instantly i knew they were his. i ran through the house in my underwear screaming with joy.

he was skinny and tired and happy as a cat can be to be - i'd like to think it was to be near me, but it was likely to be near his dog again. to this day, i still don't know where he disappeared to. maybe he was locked in someone's garage or one of the neighbors fell in love with him and tried to keep him. maybe he was the subject of some magic trick gone awry ... i don't know ... but since that day i scooped him up in my underwear for all the world to see, he sticks super close to the house, lounging on the table, sleeping on the roof and shimmying down the tree when it's time for food or play.

this one here - this is pete, part deux. he is named after my very first cat, ever. the one who would bite me right between the eyes if i would disturb his nap. this pete is like him in every way.

pete's a funny little bloke and the most popular guy on the block. he belongs to all of us - and none of us and rules the neighborhood with an iron paw. he does not believe in the old saying, 'don't bite the hand that feeds you.' he lounges on the porch; he sleeps on top of my car and he sits on the window ledge of the computer room , peering through the screen and trying to read over my shoulder. i could be mistaken, but i'm pretty sure it pisses him off that the front yard has no internet access. and he can't type.

this is big ball jack. so named for his ... well ... you get the picture.
he is the boss. no one eats until jack eats. no one sleeps until jack chooses a place. no one messes with him ... as far as i can see.
although, he does come home dirty and beaten to hell, quite a bit. i like to think he single handedly takes on the wild dogs, but he could just as easily be fighting racoons or possums or someone's automatic garage door.

william turner worships him.

it's taken jack a really long time to warm up. after a year of slinking around the backyard, he has just begun to let me get near. now, when he hears the back door open, he comes out of his hiding place and waits patiently for food. and he talks, now. a lot. he has the voice of an old cigarette smoker - a 'mew' like sandpaper. for all his wild ways, he's actually quite polite, always saying 'good morning' and 'thank you.'

there's one more cat who comes around occasionally - rick springfield. i named him that, because he has this tired old rock star vibe about him. and he's a pretty boy, who, ironically, does not want to have his photo taken. i know. he was here this morning - i tried.

i've been worried these guys and how they will fare in the wake of my impending departure. the neighbors across the street have offered to look after them all, the way they do for pete. it is a huge relief, i must say, and good to know that i'm not the softest heart on the block.

hey. here comes pete, now. ready for his afternoon belly rub and a couple of good swipes at my ankles. must dash. can't keep his majesty waiting.


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