It was waiting downstairs.
As you probably have learned from hard-won experience, dear reader, the things that blindside you and alter the course of your life (and not in a good way), the horrific things, don’t come accompanied by a dramatic swell of orchestral music and terse lines of movie script.
There aren’t any vampires coming in through the windows at 1 a.m. No, the horrors pop up unheralded on a sunny, ordinary Wednesday morning out of a clear blue sky.
I actually felt good this morning – Unemployed, but with a reasonable amount of hope for the future and looking forward to firing up the Keurig coffee maker for a little inspiration. I made my way down the stairs. And there it was…
March, 2009. A trip to the Berkshire Humane society. The shelter in Pittsfield is located, aptly, on Barker Road. They had been advertising that they needed cat food for families that were having a hard time feeding their pets due to financial troubles, or whatever. We set out for the shelter on a Saturday morning with about 40 dollars’ worth of the stuff to restock their pantry. The Bunt family loves animals, specifically dogs and cats. Rochelle and I decided long ago that we would always have pets, although we’ve had some disagreement about the amount. I’d like to have 17 dogs, and logically speaking, since they are proportionately smaller, 35 cats. So we compromised – one dog and two cats.
We dropped off the cat food at the reception desk. While Rochelle chatted with one of the volunteers, Jackie and I made our way over to the cat area, a glass wall containing about 12 cats in cubicles complete with little beds and food and water dishes. She was attracted by a small gray and white domestic short-hair with a sign that read “Mystic.”
“Dad, we should get this cat. Look how it comes right up to me.” Mystic nuzzled the glass partition.
“She’s a cutie, but don’t even get started Jack. Mom’s not going to go for it.”
Rochelle and the shelter volunteer approached. “They’re all so cute.”
“Mom, we should get a cat.”
Rochelle remained silent, looking at Mystic. I was surprised. Normally Rochelle would have let Jackie know quickly and specifically that we were NOT in the market for another animal. Jackie also understood the significance of her mother’s silence. It meant that she wasn’t against the idea, and our daughter moved in for the kill.
“Come on, Mom. She’ll be good company for Esteban. And look, she’s a sweetie.”
The volunteer spoke up.
“Mystic is such a good girl. She’s only two years old. Spent her life in a box on the back of a bicycle of a homeless woman. She’s already had babies; she was brought here with ‘em. Her last was adopted out a few months ago, but she’s been here for almost a year. She’s cute but she’s got a little bowel problem, you understand… Loose stool. She has a hard time doing her business in the litter box sometimes. Most people aren’t real crazy about bringing home a cat like that. It’s a shame.”
We looked at each other. Mystic peered at us intently through the glass. Our crusader impulse, plus the fact that three of us had either a form of crohn’s disease or colitis, sealed the deal.
Mystic’s name was changed to Lucy, a wry tip of the cap to her loose stool. Despite numerous vet visits, and a total of 15 different diets and supplements, Lucy lives up to her name. Fortunately, she doesn’t fling it around the house like a rabid monkey attempting to copy a Jackson Pollack painting.
She is the social director of the house, tussling and playing with Esteban and orbiting around Willie the Hound, whom she loves, a furry, doting satellite. Lucy has no desire to go outside; Rochelle and I believe that she had her fill of that in her earlier existence. Instead she waits for Este’ and Willie just inside the kitchen door and welcomes them back after their jaunts in the backyard.
….Still working out the creaks in my abused, old body, I make my way down the steep back stairway, eyes half-open and mouth yawning.
I think it was Bill Cosby or some other comedian who originally came up with this line – “First you say it, then you do it” -
He was talking about shit, dear friends.
It was different for me. I didn’t say it, or do it. I stepped in it. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, my bare foot came down solidly on a pile of vile, pungent, brown stew puddled on the vinyl pad in front of the litter box. Two things happened in a split second. I screamed like a little girl in a carny funhouse and both of my feet (one covered in brown cat squeezings) flew out in front of me.
As I hovered in a sitting position, three feet above the ground, I had time to think how sad it was that Rochelle wasn’t able to witness this- it would be hilarious to watch. Physical laws cannot be ignored of course and I eventually landed, still yelling, squarely on my ass in the rest of the poo. I made a desperate attempt to stand, the back of my robe soaked through as I finger-painted on floor scrabbling for purchase.
After a scalding hot shower, I spent the rest of the day nursing an injured tailbone (probably fractured) and a hateful grudge against Lucy, that mine-laying, evil cat.
Read more of Rod’s Unemployment Diary HERE.