A City of Two Tails
I’ve been back in Detroit exactly a month and a day. A few folks I know, mostly my relatives, wonder if I’m crazy. My son even asked me if I’d gone senile. Well, crazy yes, but then I’ve always been a bit crazy. Senile? Who knows. Could be.
Detroit has a bad rap. From Motor City to Murder City, an urban landscape of burned out and abandoned houses, empty, trash strewn lots, crime and crack-heads. But there is another side to her, a side not often acknowledged in the if-it-bleeds-it-leads mentality this country seems so enamored of.
There was a time when I took the Dudes everywhere I went. Alas, they are barky little critters and show their disapproval of my absence in the most vocal of ways. Thus, I have begun to leave them home if I plan to be somewhere for longer than it takes to run into the grocery store and back.
The other day, my son called and invited me to go pumpkin picking. This was a chance to meet the granddaughter I’ve never met and see the grandson I haven’t seen since he could fit in the palm of my hand. We spent the day at Blake’s Farm picking out pumpkins, drinking cider and stuffing ourselves with donuts. Afterward, I spent an hour or so watching Monster House with my granddaughter curled up at my side while my grandson watched warily from across the room (I’m not sure he quite knows what to make of this longhaired, bearded grandfather he’s suddenly acquired), then a fine dinner and I headed home.
It was well past dark and I was worried about the critters. I’ve never left the Dudes for this long a time and one of my Cats, Eudora, had gone outside the night before and hadn’t returned by the time I headed over to my son’s house. When I pulled up in front of the house, I could hear barking. Not unusual. The Dudes sit in the window and watch for me and when I appear, they go ballistic.
Problem was, the barking was too loud, too close and too singular.
I looked out the window and there was Horton, racing across the yard toward me. I freaked, thinking all kinds of horrible things and praying that Tennessee was in the house. As I scooped Horton up, my next-door and across-the-street neighbors stepped outside. Lafayette, my across the street neighbor, mentioned that the Dudes been out and about all day and then said I should come over and meet a friend of his. Seemed an odd thing to say but I was in a bit of a panic as there was no Tennessee to go with Horton so I gave it no thought as I hustled Horton inside the house and began calling for Tenn.
Nothing. My worst fear. It was nighttime and one of the Dudes was missing.
I raced back outside and Lafayette once again insisted that I come in and meet his friend. Not wanting to be rude and both wanting and dreading the coming search, I figured do it, get it over with and begin the search. So, I followed him in and there, on the couch, was Tenn.
I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say. I got the whole story then.
The day had been a windy one. As Eudora had still been outside when I left, I set the cat door to in only. Seems the wind wanted in as well and kept pushing the door open. The Dudes, being the smart little critters they are, figured out they could duck out, presumably to look for me, and so they did.
Lafayette and Drey tried to round them up but they are wary Dudes and kept getting away. Finally, Lafayette brought out some turkey meat and managed to coax Tennessee in the house where he spent the day sitting on the couch and watching TV. Horton wasn’t going that route so he stayed outside, in the my front yard, protecting the house while waiting for me to come home.
Murder city, huh? Burnt out houses, empty lots, a population that doesn’t care? Yeah, you can believe that bullshit if you want. The Dudes are curled up next to me as I write this. In a city that didn’t care, they’d likely be dead and gone.
Thanks Drey, and, especially, thanks Lafayette.
Hey, thanks for shining a kind light on Motor City. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life and feel very frustrated when people dismiss Detroit as a sewer, just out of hand.
Hey, Skip – just wrote to Cindy to say (among other things) that Detroit will come back stronger than ever. Good purchase; congratulations on finding great neighbors. I hope the currently disenfranchised will also make a comeback. Wish I could visit while Cindy is there – probably won’t happen. All my best for your new book! -Jane