Nine Lives

soul mates

Her left eye doesn’t close all the way anymore, stuck in the instant before a wink, and her tongue slips out past the tiny front teeth that never fully developed and hangs from her petite mouth.  There is a patch of white fur missing from her back and as of most recently one ear remains parallel with the ground at all times.  Her sweet face is a mish-mash of teasing expressions that when put together are no laughing matter.  

I am describing my angel, JB Cat.  She has been with us since the beginning, rescued from a cat jail in Small Town, Indiana.  She came as a complete package with ear mites, worms and an extreme stranger danger anxiety that kept her curled up and hissing in a ball for the first three months. 

When she finally uncurled and moved out from underneath of the bed, we were still naïve enough to try and keep houseplants and a cat at the same time.  JB quickly assessed the situation, found the plants to be enemies, and set out to destroy them with various plots such as knocking them over and pulling them from the dirt.  Once free from the houseplant threat, JB settled in for a very long stay.

Over the past decade, she moved with us from apartment to apartment, always packed up in a carrier with the last load of most important belongings, and then finally to a house where she caught her first spricket (a beastly combination of a spider and a cricket). 

She terrorized every family member who ever stayed with us for the first few years, sneaking into their room and watching them sleep either from their pillow or chest.  On the day before our wedding, she went missing and almost caused a complete mental breakdown and then casually emerged from the recesses of the sofa when we came back to pick up our bags for the honeymoon.  Of the three times she escaped, she was always found mewing from under a pile of leaves, frozen by the overstimulation of nature and unfamiliarity of the world.  

Most days, she spends her time sleeping on top of furniture and waiting for food.  She rarely complains and purrs when pet.  JB Cat has personality, history, opinions and plans.  After being together for so long, she has a human family, and although, she isn’t liked by all, she is loved (perhaps only by me?).  Its hard to imagine life without her hiding from friends, stalking family in the night, or purring on my chest in the evening.  Yet, it seems that it’s an approaching reality, one that grows closer with each new ailment from which she never quite recovers.  While she is still living and wheezing on the couch behind me, her lifeforce grows dimmer and my sadness grows greater.

This world was never made for one as beautiful as you, JB Cat.  

As Above, So Below

as above

The screen door slowly opened with a squeak.  The hinges were reddish-brown with rust and curls of white paint peeled away from the wooden door.  A pink noise poked out and sniffed at the air; the nose was followed by the black and white body of a small dog.  The animal slipped the rest of the way out of the house and the door slammed behind it with a bang.

Scents of all kinds bombarded the tiny but powerful nostrils of the dog.  It looked left and then right, orienting to its new surroundings.  A squirrel watched from the branch of an oak tree in the front yard, holding a nut in its claws and waited to see what the domesticated creature would do next.

The dog took off in a beeline towards the edge of the yard, running with muscular strides, quickly drawing away from the house.

“Beanie!” a boy yelled as he pushed through the screen door.  He wore jean shorts and striped tank top; dark hair fell over his forehead and hit the top of his ears, in a perfect bowl cut.

He yelled over his shoulder, “Beanie’s out, again!”

A girl followed the boy through the door, letting the door slam behind her.  Bangs obstructed her view and she pushed heavy locks away from her nearsighted eyes.  She wore a faded pair of jeans, rolled up at the bottoms with a thin t-shirt.

With bare feet, the pair raced after the dog, leaving mashed grass and flowers in their wake.

“Beanie! Beanie! Come back!” they yelled in unison.

Suddenly the dog stopped and looked back, it waited for the kids to catch up.  Its sides heaved in and out and its tongue fell from its mouth as it rested for a second and then it took off again like a shot.

Chase me, shiny eyes begged as it risked a quick glance back at its pursuers.

The siblings laughed and resumed the chase after the dog.

An engine revved over the hill and a car appeared trailing a cloud of dust from the gravel road as it sped towards them. Screaming, the girl grabbed the boy with both arms, pulling him back from the road as the car flew past them.

The car intersected with the escaping dog.  They watched its body hit the front of the car and shoot off to the side of the road.  The girl’s heart pounded in her chest, she was still screaming.  The car sped on, never once hitting its brakes as the dog lay still on its side. Its life whiffed out in the same moment as the fleeting innocence of childhood.

Once gone, always gone.

 

Misplaced Beliefs

cow

“Before you go, I’ve got something for you.”

Jan stood with a groan and walked towards the counter dividing the kitchen from the living room.  She moved with an uneven gait from a recent hip replacement. She had a simple mind, dull eyes, and a sweetness that inexplicably drew people to her.

“I should have finished PT, I know.”

She made no excuses but no one had asked for any. Anyways, she wouldn’t have given a straight answer if asked the reason because the answer sat nearby, frowning into a cup of cold coffee.

An oxygen machine clicked in the background and her husband scrutinized Jan with narrowed eyes.

“Careful, watch the tube,” Ted growled as Jan walked towards the counter and yanked at the clear tubing with one hand.

“By the way, coffee’s cold,” he declared with a fierce look at his wife.

While Jan emanated a bovine presence, not from her shape or hygiene, but her gentle spirit, her spouse was like a hawk circling above the field where she grazed.

“Don’t worry, honey. I won’t step on it.”

Tactfully, she ignored his comment about the coffee and smiled, “He always gets so worried about his oxygen.”

Her dull eyes did not smile with the rest of her face. They told of the sacrifices and strategizing of a wife.

Perhaps her mind was not so simple.

To hell with them, Ted scowled in his recliner.

He had other things on his mind.

Namely, his upcoming death.

He was good with Jesus now. Volunteering at the church, helping out at the soup kitchen, mentoring those kids. It was all a part of his life-insurance policy.

I never thought much of buying something I could never use, he mused to himself. There was satisfaction in his investment, soon to pay out, big time.  It was just a matter of time before he was released from his hell on Earth. This body, this woman, this condo. It was all suffocating him to death, which was fortunate.

I bet all this suffering adds to the value of my policy, he thought, as he did a mental computation on number of years of suffering multiplied by amount of good work.

In the midst of Ted’s silent ruminations, as he went over the same thoughts every day, Jan arrived at the counter.

She leaned against it and reached over, producing a perfect, one foot tall Santa Claus in her hand.

“For you. I made them with our church group. There are nine others back here.”

As she offered the gift to me, I considered the tribe of Santa’s hiding behind the counter, and Jan watched for the expression on my face.

Santa stared up at me in his perfect suit and beard with his kind, googly eyes.

Quite naturally, the eyes were not so different from those of his Creator.

Death by Uber

truck

When the bright blue pickup truck cruised into the parking lot, the driver flashed his lights and honked at us. We were the only ones standing outside of the hotel. There was little question that this was our ride and we were the intended riders.

Yet, still the driver continued to honk as he slowly approached like he didn’t see us, the two lone figures in front of his vehicle.

Sure this wasn’t the usual Uber approach, but we were on vacation. Something magical happens to a person’s thinking when on vacation; intuition is easier to ignore, one lowers their guard, suspends disbelief, and takes risks like popping into a dive bar for a drink and talking to leather clad strangers. Or maybe that’s just us?

In any case, we couldn’t have known that the real risk of the trip was getting into this flashy pickup truck.

“Hey ya’ll. Where ya headed?” the driver asked in a slow drawl with a big chunk of chew bulging from his lip.

We’ll call the driver “Justin” as that was how just about every chew chawing, boot wearing native introduced himself that weekend.

It was all so fitting: the weird Uber pickup truck, the Southern accent, the fine Tennessee whiskey tasting that preceded the Uber request which helped to lower our normal standards. We had officially arrived in a mental and physical state of vacation/escape from reality.

So we asked Justin to take us downtown, climbed aboard the ship of uncertainty, and slowly rolled out of the parking lot. He took off towards the highway which seemed to be the right direction, good start so far. I checked out the backseat with satisfaction. No unidentifiable smells, murdery stains, or fast food wrappers, this was getting even better.

As an aside, we recently took an Uber ride in a hand-me-down Honda with an intense college kid driver who had all three of the above in his backseat. It was 10 miles of silence- no radio, no small talk- just silence and uncertainty that we would ever arrive to our destination. This was breath of fresh air, almost.

Then we swerved across the road as we approached the ramp to the highway. I stopped my backseat investigation to refocus on the driver. Justin was completely engrossed in setting his GPS while driving with his knees. FYI: Knees are not the best at controlling a pickup traveling at 50-60 miles an hour.

We made into onto the highway and the GPS was set. Justin was driving with his hands again– we were back on track for a successful trip. Then the voice of the GPS, an English accented female, started to give directions. For some strange reason, she wanted us to turn around.

“Turn right,” she said and Justin drove straight.

She asked again at the next exit, “Turn right.”

Justin shook his head in disagreement and mumbled to himself, “No, that’s not right” and muted her to take us off the highway and down the side street of a small town.

This was more than a little concerning to the Mister- who then turned on the GPS on his phone. Interesting, I thought as I looked over his shoulder. We had gone in the exact opposite direction of where we asked. Justin’s GPS was right after all, who knew?

Once the Mister started to direct Justin, we made it to the big city where Justin did not become a better driver. In fact, his driving became even more distracted as he idled at a green light to show us how he keeps a hand gun on him at all times.

He explained, “There’s a lot of crazy people out there (pause for spit break) and a man’s got to protect himself. That’s why I keep the safety off on days like this.”

Oh, the safety is off on more than just that gun, I thought nervously as he pushed his handgun back between his leg and the seat. He looked up and realizing that he was sitting at a green light, he punched the gas. We lurched forward and then he decided to change lanes, nearly running over a Smart car that had the misfortune of driving next to us.

“We can walk from here,” the Mister said at the next light and opened the door/saved our lives.

It was wild ride that ended just soon enough, costing relatively little for the adventure it provided.

Thanks for the good times, Uber. Don’t worry, we’ll be back.

Wondering what is Uber? (normally a great service)

https://www.uber.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uber_%28company%29

Info on distracted driving- for those of you interested in not driving like Justin 

http://www.distraction.gov/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/

Another Fall

fall leaves - Autumn Photography Desktop Wallpapers ( 54534 Views )

His eyes were dark like mine.

I remembered just today,

Jarred by the bright oranges and reds of the changing leaves.

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