28 December 2005

Reprise ...



An old story ...

Many years ago, friends of mine found a wee, tiny kitty on the side of the highway in the dead of winter ... young enough that her eyes were still closed ... they thought she was too young to survive without a mother, so they were going to put her down ... I couldn't have that, so I brought her home. The vet thought she was a week or two old, and didn't hold much hope for her survival ... I got some horse milk and dipped a small bit of bread in it for her to suck several times a day for a few weeks and she did survive. She didn't meow, she said, "Ooooo" ... I called her Spook.

When it was time for her to get her shots, I took her to the vet again ... I was concerned about her ... most days, when I got home from work, she would be hanging by her front claws from the curtains or the back of a chair, Ooooing her little head off ... and she didn't seem to be getting much stronger - whenever she tried to do something, her back end would start to sway and she'd fall over. I'd never had cats, but this didn't seem right to me.

The vet checked her out thoroughly and told me that he thought the mother likely had Distemper, and that she had Intention Spasticity ... that's why she couldn't retract her front claws when they were into something, and why her back end wobbled and fell over. If she just did something, it was fine, but when she thought about it, she got all spastic. Apparently, Intention Spasticity usually affects the front end, rather than the back end, and the poor things starve. Since she couldn't retract her front claws once she'd leapt up to hang from something, declawing was pretty much essential ... but once that was done, she was fine, aside from her dignity, which suffered every time someone noticed her wobble and fall over. The vet didn't think she'd live very long, but he'd been wrong before.

Since Spook had no front claws and no ability to pounce, I was able to have both her and Nathanial-Bird (a completely neurotic budgie (who wouldn't go through a doorway, unless he was riding on my head or shoulder) that someone couldn't keep anymore) loose in the house at the same time. I started calling the cat Pook, after someone pointed out how funny it was to call a black cat Spook ... I hadn't made the connection ... how embarassing.

I didn't know how to raise a kitten, so I treated her like a puppy ... she came when she was called, played fetch, would sit and speak (Oooo) for treats, and ran to the door whenever someone came up the walk. She was moody as hell and very much a one-person cat ... when I sat, she was in my lap ... when I stood in one place for more than a minute, she way lying on my feet ... at night, she slept across my neck or wrapped around the top of my head. She had a shoebox that she was absurdly attached to ... whenever she went from one room to another, she dragged it behind her ... if I was moving too much to be a good bed, she'd sit in the shoebox. At the risk of being redundant, she was a rather peculiar cat.

One day, when Patty lived here, and Fluffy was up visiting, the three of us were sitting about yacking ... it suddenly dawned on me that Pook wasn't in my lap and that I hadn't seen her in a while ... it was one of those creepy times, when you know something's horribly wrong ... the interal dialogue went like this, "I'm sure she's fine, just found a warm place to curl up ... fuck, what if she died ... she's fine ...." Her shoebox was in front of the kitchen table ... I pulled the chairs out and crawled under ... there she was, poor thing, stiff as a board. She wasn't supposed to survive a week, but she'd owned me for eight or nine years. I was devastated.

Fluffy offered to bury her in the back yard, but it was the dead of winter, the ground was frozen solid ... so we put her in her shoebox with some mothballs to keep the dogs from smelling her ... ugh ... wrapped the shoebox in plastic bags and put her in the garbage - pickup was the next morning.

Mom phoned later, and asked right away what was wrong. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Pook died.
Patty and Fluffy: -appropriate clucking and awing noises-
Mom: What!?!
Me: Pook died.
Mom: When?!?
Me: This morning, sometime.
Mom: What happened?!?
Me: I don't know. She just died. I found her under the kitchen table, all stiff.
Mom: Your kitchen table?!?
Me: Yes, of course my kicthen table.
Mom: She's too young to just die!! Something had to have happened!!!
Me: Nobody expected her to live this long.
Mom: What!?!
Me: She wasn't supposed to live at all, Mom.
Mom: What!?! Oh ... uh ... is Darren coming home?
Me: Huh? Of course not!
Mom: Does Darren know?!?
Me: No, but he's supposed to call in a couple of days.
Mom: You're not going to call him?!?
Me: Mom! I'm not going to bother him in the middle of the night, overseas, for this!
Mom: Uh ... uh ... um ... what did you do? When you ... uh ... found her?
Me: Wrapped her up in plastic ...
Mom: What!?!
Me: ... and put her out by the garbage. I didn't want the dogs to get her!
Mom: What!?!
Me: Fluffy offered to bury her in the back yard, but ...
Mom: What?!? He didn't!?!
Me: ... the ground's frozen. No, he didn't. The ground's frozen!
Mom: You can't just leave her out there!!!
Me: It'll be fine, Mom. She's frozen out there and pickup's tomorrow.
Mom: What!?! Uh ...
Me: I'm gonna go, Mom.
Mom: Uh ...
Me: Fluffy's here visiting.
Mom: Uh ... okay.

This all struck me a little odd ... Mom never says "What?" ... she always says "Pardon?" ... and she's pretty unflappable ... but I had other things on my mind.

A couple of hours later, Mom phoned again. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: *gasp* I'm *snort* sorry *giggle* about *wheeze* earlier *snort* ...
Me: Um ... it's okay. What's up?
Mom: *laugh* You meant *gasp* Pook ... *snort* died.
Me: Yah, Pook ... Pook died.
Patty and Fluffy: -concerned looks-
Mom: *giggle* Pook *snort* ...
Me: Yes, Pook ...
Mom: *laugh* Pook *gasp* ...
Me: Mom?
Mom: *laugh* Pook *snort* ...
Me: Mom!?!
Patty and Fluffy: -even more concerned looks-
Mom: *gasp* *laugh* *snort* Pook *laugh* your cat! *gasp*
Me: Yes, Mom ... Pook, my ... *gasp* Omigawd ... *snort* Mom, you didn't think I meant *snort* Pook!?!
... Mom never did call her Pook ... she called her Spooky ... she calls Darren's little sister Pook, 'cuz that's what we all call her ...
Patty and Fluffy: -very concerned looks-
Mom: *laugh* I *snort* know ... AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *gasp*
Me: *giggle* You mean ... *laugh*
Mom: *snort* ... under the table ... *laugh*
Me: *shreik* Oh no! *laugh*
Patty and Fluffy: -completely bewildered-
Mom: *giggle* ... dont' want to *snort* bother Darren ... *gasp*
Me: *snork* *gasp*
Mom: *wheeze* ... plastic bags ... *snort* ... Fluffy bury ... *helpless laughter*
Me: *helpless laughter*
Patty and Fluffy: -starting to look a little frightened-
Mom: *laugh* *gasp* Pickup's tomorrow ...*snork*
Me: Gsnxrk! *helpless laughter*
.... several minutes later...
Mom: *sniffle* Bye, Honey *giggle**
Me: *giggle* Bye, Mom *snort*
... repeat whole conversation for Patty and Fluffy ...
... much more helpless laughter ...

I wonder if Darren ever told his Pook about it.

1 comment:

dani said...

good story, but sad anyway. that sounded like a splendid kitty to me