Rascal’s old. Too old to purr, she sleeps all day, she can’t jump anymore. She’s twenty years old.
Her back legs quit working months ago—arthritis. And she only eats soft food.
She came into this marriage as Jamie’s illegitimate feline. Back then, Rascal was piss and vinegar, wrapped in fur, with a preference for squatting on expensive items.
I don’t mind telling you: she used to hate me.
As a young cat, she’d glare at me like Rosemary’s Baby. Once, she hid beneath our mattress to avoid a veterinary visit. I tried to remove her; she tried to sever a major artery.
Another time: she vomited in my dress-shoes. And once, on Christmas Eve night, she deposited a holiday miracle on my pillow.
But that’s ancient history.
I’m not sure when it happened, but we fell in love. She quit despising me and started waiting in our windowsill for me to arrive home from work.
I even took her fishing once. I gave her a few baitfish. She tortured them, then licked their guts clean.
During football games, she’d sit on our coffee table—beside my beer—watching TV. So help me, the cat watched television.
When I’d holler, “C’mon, dammit!” at Alabama’s offense, she’d flick her tail.
And she’s a daddy’s girl. While I write stories, she sleeps on my desk, between my typewriter and computer. Or in my lap.
I went to pet her last night. A clump of twenty-year-old hair came off in my hand. Her skin is paper. She’s been losing weight. Her bones are porcelain
Time is running away. I’ve changed a lot in twenty years. You wouldn’t even recognize the person I used to be, either.
I used to be stupid, impulsive, short-sighted. Long ago, I skipped a college English final to go on a fishing trip. I earned an F.
What was I thinking?
Some days, I look in the mirror and wonder at the new lines on my face.
Today we wrapped Rascal in a blanket and took her to the vet. She laid in my wife’s arms while she whispered, “You’re a good girl.”
And I felt my eyes get wet.
The doc came in with a syringe full of pink stuff.
“Ssssshh, Rascal,” said my wife, sobbing.
God decided not to give us kids. We’re average individuals whose children come from the local pound.
My offspring are the kind that use litter boxes, or bury bones in the backyard. But they’re part of me. I feed them. Pray for them. They ride shotgun. They go fishing.
They even sit on my lap while I write.
At least they used to.
I’m writing alone tonight.