The moon was high. The starlight, dimmed from the city’s lights, had lost its sparkle. For the amount of bodies strewn across the asphalt, the makeshift campground surprised me. The bustle had toned down to murmurs, occasional spurts of low laughter, and the sporadic bark of a dog. A good time to move out. I studied my foster family one last time. Jawbreaker sensed something was astir and lifted his head. I ignored his watchful eye, and headed out. When I looked back, he padded behind me, probably thinking I was taking a bathroom break. I stopped, jerked around, and hissed. Jawbreaker’s eyes widened, heeded my warning, and sat down. His big mouth drooped as I spun around and sprinted off into the night.
I jogged along the road we had come in on. The city offered drainage ditches, underpasses, and an occasional abandoned building for hiding. Only two trucks passed.
Maintaining a steady pace, I made time. No sign of bears or elk. No woodpeckers or hawks, but I jerked to a halt. I caught scent of an odor I had never experienced, but instinct told me it was the smell of death. I froze and began to tremble. I wanted to run, return to my Green Berets and Jawbreaker, but chilling fear held me in place.
I recalled Judy pointing out the dead furry bodies along the roadside. “Do you see that, Sportster? Bad things can happen if you aren’t careful.” She would shake her finger at me and say, “You have to stay close to home.”
Well, I wasn’t close to home, thanks to her, but I would be careful. I gathered my courage and followed the scent. On the edge of the road lay the ghastly carcass of a kitten. I belted out a yowl that pierced the night and hightailed it. I didn’t stop until my lungs begged for air and my legs screamed for relief. With a last burst of energy, I dove into a large pipe leading under the freeway. Rancid water splashed in my face as I sprinted toward the dim moonlight at the end of the tunnel. My stomach hurled, and I gagged from the offending stench but kept going. The passageway opened into a concrete ditch enclosed by cyclone fencing. Without slowing, I rushed the line of chain link. With my momentum, I scrambled over the top, spurred by the ear piercing rattle of the metal, and leaped down on the other side. With the barrier between me and the crime scene, I stopped and caught my breath.
I had landed in another parking lot. A large Elk, his head held high, sporting a wide rack of horns stood in front of a building. I balked again, my hair on end. Wait. It was a statue. This was an Elks Lodge. Judy and I had camped at many of these facilities. They were fraternities of sort, their symbol, the Elk, usually guarded its entrance. I scanned the parking area. Several RVs nestled in the rear of the property. One looked like our motorhome.
My chest pounded in anticipation, but I crept along the brick wall that met the fencing. It was a long, but safe way around to the vehicle. I must be cautious. Like most campgrounds at night, all was quiet. My heart raced as I neared the motorhome. Judy had not made it easy for me to find her. She would be happy to see me. I imagined her reaction after six nights without me. She would feed me my favorite treats and kiss my face while I pretended to hate her gushing. Judy mentioned perhaps she might be prone to believe, as the Buddhists do, in reincarnation. They believe that pieces of the soul of a deceased loved one can be reborn into an animal’s soul, thus taking on the passed loved one’s personality characteristics. “You are so like my Jack.” She would say to me. “He, too, acted like he hated my sweet talking, but I think deep down he loved it, just like you do Sportster.” I purred remembering her words and climbed onto the motorhome’s porch.
My heart sank when my paw touched the first step. This was not our home. Strangers’ scents coated the porch and the door. My tail drooped. My heavy spirit weighed me down, accenting my exhaustion. I crawled onto the porch. Too tired to be careful, I curled up, tucked my nose under my flank and closed my eyes.
The warm morning sun and the motorhome’s rocking movement woke me. I moved to a more covert position under the vehicle. Voices inside only mumbled until the door’s lock made a familiar click and a man spoke clearly. “There you go, Annabelle. Why can’t you let us sleep late just once?”
The door slammed shut as a soft ball of fur glided down the steps. Grey paws reached out from Annabelle’s plush body and carried her to the ground. She performed her own yoga stretch, her elbows flat on the asphalt, and her butt in the air. She must have seen me because her tail gyrated, then kinked into a small hook at the tip, as if calling me.
I sprang to my feet and approached like a peep on twitter, chirping my intentions, my exhaustion forgotten. She turned, acted startled, her icy blue eyes grew large. I chirped again, more of an alluring trill this time. She stood her ground. Her tail flagged back and forth.
I presented myself, nose to nose, and suddenly became aware of my unkempt condition. My cologne was the rancid tunnel water from yesterday. My tail, erect and vibrating, exhibited a glaring bald spot from Jawbreaker’s attack. I quickly lowered it before she noticed. I rolled over, showed her my soft underbelly … and the burrs embedded in my coat. I had been too fatigued last night to groom myself. Shame spurred me to jump up. I dashed away into the bushes.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
How to make friends and influence people.
I am always up for making new friends. I gained my friend-making expertise during my innocent kitten years spent in my mom's grooming salon. The staff and clients jumped in response to my kitten meows, eager to shower me with treats, hugs and kisses. I rarely scoffed at the kibble they sprinkled at my feet and but i often resisted their affections.
And yet they accepted me. I quickly learned that people are kind and of good spirit. They instilled in me a feeling of pride and confidence because they were happy to meet me and only wanted to cater to my every demand.
Of course there are the strangers you meet that you are not sure of you at first or they are unsure of you.
Tika is now a dear and long time friend but our first meetings were tentative and frankly I found her overabundance of energy quite annoying.
And of course there are those who even though they are hundreds of time bigger, they are hesitant....
…. or I am hesitant of them.
Some hide and never come out.
There are always the strangers you want to meet because their beautiful spirits are enchanting and someone you can't help but want to aspire to be like.
Step One: Introduce yourself.
Step Two: Shake hands.
Step Three: Give a hug.
Step Four: Give out compliments and high fives.
Step Five: Enjoy your new friend's company.
Step Six: Rest assured, following these steps, you now have a friend for forever.
Let's get to know each other.
Sportster the cat.