Lula Bell is in my lap right now. She’s asleep, because it’s still early. This cat loves a sunrise, it’s the strangest thing you ever saw. She looks straight at it.
When we first got Lula, she had a broken leg and didn’t trust humans. If you made any sudden moves, she’d be halfway to Chattanooga in a few seconds.
Before us, she lived in a dumpster behind Winn Dixie. And I have it on good authority her best friend was a long-bearded, soft-spoken man who kept her well fed—which must be true. She’s got the plumpest belly in the county.
Store employees said Lula wouldn’t let anyone touch her but this man.
“He had a way with her,” one employee said. “He’d just hold her and whisper.”
The same employee recalls once seeing the man waiting outside the back door during store hours. He asked if the bakery would be getting rid of any pastries that day.
The employee said he didn’t know, then asked why.
“It’s my anniversary,” said the man. “My wife died a long time ago, but I still celebrate however I can.”
“I didn’t know if it was true or not,” the employee went on. “But I had to get him something.”
So, he and a few other workers ordered a cake from the bakery. They wrote in green icing: “Happy Anniversary.”
That night, they stayed after work to eat ice cream and cake on the loading dock. There, they listened to stories about the man’s late wife.
“Then,” the employee told me. “When I left for home, the man had left twenty dollars underneath my windshield wiper.”
After that, nobody ever saw the man again. Including Lula.
“Lula Bell seemed so lonely,” the employee went on. “That’s when we decided to find her a home.”
As it happens, I often wonder what home really is. You hear a lot about it. I wonder if it has more to do with people than it does zip codes.
But then, I wonder about a lot of things. Namely, I wonder why life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I wonder if humans are meaner than they used to be.
But not Lula. She’s above these thoughts. She has a food bowl, that’s enough for her.
Lula just leapt off my lap, and limped onto the fencepost. That leg of hers is a mess.
She’s staring eastward, waiting, swinging her long tail. Content. I wonder how she can be so cheerful? Doesn’t she know our world is a damn wreck?
Look at that sunrise.