I search for words that when stitched together, as in an eye-catching tapestry, express something with texture and richness, and I hope, beauty. Fingers are crossed for a glimpse of a sparkling thread, or an unexpected color, that draws a reader in. Sometimes I fail miserably. But on a good day, as with the surprise of a wonderful candid photo, I capture a spirit, and a heartbeat. Then I watch a story come alive.
The story goes that she wasn’t supposed to have a cat. Had one anyway. Tucked away in her apartment. That’s how some girls are. Have their own rules (I know, I did, too). One day the landlord found out and threw down his ultimatum. “The cat goes, or you both go.” She took the cat to a shelter.
Some months before, my sweetie’s cat had died. I never wanted a cat but once Rick came into my life, it was a ‘love me, love my cat’ sorta deal. Never had a cat before. Didn’t even like them. Cat was so scared he shivered behind my dryer for days. Black domestic long hair. At least before hiding behind the dryer. Lint hanging from his whiskers, feather duster tail. Cleaned the area pretty well though. Cat had so much hair I actually thought he was a cat till we bathed him. Found out he was really a gargoyle. Weighed about 8 pounds. Five pounds fur.
Rick loved his cat. Said he was his best friend. Said, can’t throw him out just because I gotta girl now. So I had to get used to him. Murphy. He was 13 or 14 when I met him (the cat, that is) so I figured no matter how much of a trial it was, cat couldn’t live much longer. Wrong.
When he died (the cat, that is), the old man was nearly 20. By then I loved his white muzzle, his comforting purr, the way he adored my sweetie, all in spite of myself. It was hard to put him down. To say good-bye.
The cat had come against my will. He left the same way. Done with pets. Heartache too big. Didn’t know why anyone would do it more than once. But the sweetie had different ideas. He played along for a couple of months, then suggested we visit the pound. Just for a look. I made him swear no animal was coming home with us, but I was willing to peruse. I loved the puppies, anyway.
We saw puppies and birds, rodents, and of course, kitties. Stacks of cages, side by side, filling the feline room from floor to ceiling. So many. Tap, tap, tap, at my ankle. “Lady. Look down here.” Little paw stretched out of the cage reaching for my pant leg, playing with my denims. All the way on the bottom. “Lady. Lady. I’m down here.”
We took him to the “Get Acquainted Room” -- sure. That’s what they call it. Reel you in. Can’t get out without taking the animal. “He’s the best one in the house. If anyone comes looking for a cat, this is the one we’re going to show. He’s the friendliest, and pretty calm, too, for a Tabby.” Calm? Geez, wonder what excitable looks like. Kitty scrambling between the sweetie and me, jumping on ours laps, climbing up my front to perch on my shoulder, nuzzling my neck and hair. Purring. Oh my, purring. “Can someone get him off me, please?”
We left the cat behind. Milo. The young woman who hid him in the apartment called him Milo. Probably after the Tabby in the movie, I figured. I visited him a few days later, by myself. How do you shake the feeling of kitty kisses on your ear? You don’t. Universe planned it that way. There he was, waiting, waiting, for someone to take him home.
By the following weekend, the sweetie broached the subject of Milo the Cat, the one that would be shown to every family looking because he was 'the best one in the house'. Come to find out, the sweetie had been secretly visiting, too.
Well, shoot. How do we convince ourselves he should be ours? The best one in the house hadn't been chosen by anyone else, right? Each time we visited he'd still been waiting. "Lady. Make up your mind. Can't wait forever." Meant to be. See?
So the 'best one in the house' came to live with us. 'Pretty calm for a Tabby' racing back and forth, thunder paw gallop. Confusing our denims and sofa for his scratching post. Had to teach him how to use the real deal. Our legs were getting sore. He’s a fast learner, when he’s of a mind.
Turns out he knew his name. I wouldn't have chosen Milo but he came when called. Pretty good trick. So we left his name alone. He’d been messed with a lot already. The apartment, the pound, the cage, the waiting. No sense messing with his name.
He musta loved apartment girl. Bet she had long hair. Never met a young woman with hair he hasn't liked. I'm not young, but thankfully have hair he snuggles every night. Purr. Purr. Purr. Still kitty kisses on my ear.
“Lady. Lady. I’m down here.” He chose, then waited for us to catch on. Catch up. Six years ago we brought the best one home. He'd waited long enough.