Get back, Honky Cat

spook I seem to remember reading somewhere that life runs in seven year cycles. Or maybe that’s skin cells. Whatever. If it is life, then I seem to be riding out a seven year death cycle that won’t end until 2011. The death of hope, the death of dreams, death, I seem to be experiencing it all. Treacle and Pinkerton, Smokey Joe, Feral, The Doubtful Guest, Mooch, Booth, Puss, Pug, Grey-Boy and now, Spook has gone to blue.

Spook came to me in 91, a bundle of white fur with a chunk taken out of his face. He was a pit-bull kitten, you see, the star of a little game some folks like to play. You have a pit, you bring in the pit-bull, you toss in a kitten. Big fun for all. Not much fun for the kittens, of course, but this little white thing executed an escape which I’m sure pissed off the humans in attendance.

My friend and I managed to trap this feral little bundle between two houses. I grabbed him as he tried to dash past me but as he had only one eye to see out of, I had the advantage. He countered that advantage by sinking his teeth clear down to the bone of my thumb. I still have the scar.

I managed to get him in the house. One side of his face was all swollen and I was sure he had lost an eye. He was feral and vicious and the vet wouldn’t let us bring him in nor would the SOB come out despite what I offered to pay him. Chicken shit. Not that I think we could have taken him in. It would have taken a ketamine dart to get him out of there and I didn’t have one of those handy.

He spent the next several months hiding amongst the cobwebs and dust-bunnies under the futon couch. I rarely saw him, hunkered down as he was in the far shadows. But the food I set beneath the couch was always gone when I checked it. It was one of those ‘he lives or he don’t’ situations and I was doing everything I was able to do to slant it in favor of the ‘he lives’ side of the equation. One day, I can no longer say how long that day took to come, but one day he emerged, covered in cobwebs, and lo and behold, he still had an eye. I found out later he was missing several teeth and part of his gums but otherwise he was fully intact.

In all the time he was under that futon, he never really acquired a name. It didn’t take him long though, once he was out, to grab one. Any sudden move, any loud noise and he was gone like a ghost even a ghostbuster couldn’t find. I named him Spook. Like all cats, he had nine lives and therefore nine names. One, of course, like all cats, he kept to himself but over time he failed to answer to Dukes, Honky Cat, White Boy and any number of expletives. Bottom line, though, he was always Spook.

I had Neb then, and Pinkerton and Treacle, and despite being dogs, and despite Spooks somewhat negative experience with dogs, they got along well enough. Spook lured Mooch to the house, another cat who was with me for quite some time. While Spook was nearly pure white save for a faint spot of black-tipped hair on his head, Mooch was nearly pure black save for a faint spot of white-tipped hair on her head. They were the perfect bookends.

When things got too strange in Oakland and I abandoned it for a bit of Northern exposure, Spook and Mooch made the journey in a dresser drawer of my t-shirts. It wasn’t long after I got settled in Guerneville that Booth appeared, another black cat with a fringe of white, this time on his chest, and the three of them became fast and furious friends. They remained that way for many years, sleeping together, grooming each other, scaring the shit out of each other, a regular Three Catketeers.

When it all hit the fan in California, yet another death I’ve yet to write about and probably never will, Spook and Mooch shared a cage to New Mexico. What a mistake that was. New Mexico I mean, not Spook and Mooch sharing a cage. The other mistake, one of many, was not tossing Booth in there with them. The poor boy howled his way over the 1300 miles. His voice was never the same after that.

Mooch went on her way first, a heart attack and one of those weekend, emergency vet horror stories I’ve never been able to write about. Booth followed a year or two later. Spook left me today.

She went fast, my little old baby, and for that I am grateful. I’ve known it was coming for awhile now. I mean eighteen, that’s mighty old for a cat. I’m glad neither Mooch nor Booth had to make the trip to this god forsaken place I find myself in now. They wouldn’t have liked it here anymore than I do.

As Spook lay dying, I begged him to let go, to go to the light, to go to blue, that Mooch and Booth were waiting there for him, that he could once again jump and play and groom and sleep curled up in a three-way ball. I prayed to the spirit of all things, fuck your christian god which I don’t believe in anyway, not that I’m entirely sure any great spirit exists either, still, I prayed anyway to take him fast, to not let him suffer.

I don’t think he did. Suffer, I mean. And he did go fast. Too fast? Too soon? No answer to that because you just don’t know. I feel some guilt because he wanted in my lap a couple of times today and I denied him because I was tied up with other things. But how do you know what the right thing to do is? I knew he was going, I just didn’t know it would be today.

You outlived them all Spook, my beautiful, toothless, noisy as a Siamese cat baby. The pit-bulls who tormented you and, hopefully, the human owners of those dogs. If it can be said that I pray, then I pray you are now with Mooch and Booth and all the rest of the gang. My only wish at this moment is that I could have gone with you.

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