Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
To Stella from Mica: Tales of Beyond the Front Door
Mica has something to confess to you, Stella. He typed this out earlier as a surprise to cheer me up, thinking that if Stella could write like anycat's business, then surely he could knock off a six-toed missive or two (or six)! Of course his reasons were not entirely free from self-interest (when--ever-- is a cat's doings entirely untainted by a whisker's breadth of the thought of self?) Yes, Stella, you've been remiss, but remember, he had to apologize in some catly way; Mica did a very bad thing earlier tonight, and he knew full well that turning his toes to type-tapping would be THE way to change my stern looks into fluffy Maine Coon coos of delight. So pardon the long introduction (and Mica’s short conclusion), and here is Mica's concatenation of a confession—that barrel-striped rascal:
Mrrrawww, Stella! I am glad to hear that you are yet well fed. Since my own Uprighter, SD, hadn't regaled me with any feline tails of you recently, I was beginning to wonder if you had in fact hightailed it off to a life on those very streets your Two Legs has protected you from for so long! I must confess, though I did not have a career as a homeless stray in mind, tonight, for the first time ever, I tried to slip out, just as SD was just coming in from doing that nasty habit out front (the one that involves putting in her mouth a paper cylinder with a pretty red end I’d like to chase-- but all those disgusting sooty clouds emanating from it and from her mouth, like a dragon's!) And the dragon breath she gets from this, and knows I don’t like, so I make sure she washes her mouth properly at the sink, while I sit and watch, and wait for her to make a pool with her hand, and give me my drink of water from the faucet. I think your Two Legs does something similar when he goes outside--they both need to check that habit at the door! Oh…the door, right. Sorry Stella, I do tend to go awn and awn, like my girl SD, but perhaps I’d better tell you about a couple of doors before I get to this one, so you can feel more how the wind runs through my whiskers…
Mind you, Stella, my life has been as short as the unnaturally attractive thumbs I sport in triumph on my front paws—I am little more than a year old. I can, however, tell you a little bit about “OUT THERE,” as I think of it now that I am a City Inside Cat: I was born on what my Uprighter calls “The Six-Toed Cat Farm,” which is really just a Fallbrook country home where an older female Uprighter called Concetta lives in a series of box-like structures with clay pots and beds full of tasty grasses and plants, and some trees surrounding a large series of patios cool in summer. Concetta has a tall cage patched with chickenwire, and all of us felines were herded or coaxed in at night to sleep and eat, though we had food available during the day (dry bits, my favorite, though SD gives me nice wet food, too). My brothers and sisters, and cousins and cousins toppled over one another inside our night and dinner cage, and mama licked all of our backs and faces velvety, and we rolled into little balls against her warm belly and teats, where it became for some reason harder and harder to get a drink of milk. Sometimes Concetta gave us a little white stuff that was kind of like mama’s milk, but cold and tasting of strange animals, not mothers.
So we played hard all day, chasing each other in and out of potting sheds and around bags of soil and boxes of junk, and I sat and groomed myself incessantly, for though I had an idyllic country life, I also had personal vermin. The sun shone, and I slept soundly against my cousins and siblings in the noon heat, but if we didn’t get back to the cage once the shadows stretched all the way across the patio, we might face the terrible animals that snuck through holes in the fence and waited on the perimeter of the property, with grinning jaws and a rank stench hard to understand. When a very small kitten, curled up with the others, I listened at night, hearing them howl and even pant --sometimes I felt or heard them come so close to our yard, I could only tremble uncontrollably. I have only glimpsed these creatures, mind you, and those of us who heeded the older cats' rule of heading for the cage at Concetta's warbly voice at dusk were safe, and lived another day of hide and go seek, and long naps in the corners of the dusty yard or on an old couch. Sure, those dog-like creatures with the raging grins and gleaming eyes would try to sneak onto the property at dusk, even, so I made sure to tuck myself away well back into the cage before Concetta called us.
Now the only cage I have is the one I’m taken in (gulp) to the vet’s, a place of cold stainless steel and shiverings, and attempts to burrow hard into SD’s chest as she holds me, and the white-coated woman approaches with something to stick somewhere in my fur, into my skin. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what I did to deserve something like that—the only cage I should ever have is that spontaneous one that happens when my Uprighter swoops down upon me, with arms and legs and bars of hair falling all around me and she forms a shelter with her body where I can purr and hide, and peep out as though I am in a cave (or admittedly, back with my old mother).
Well, perhaps the vet is for things like breaking the glass, or knocking books and pens and things down from the desk, or overturning my water bowl and splashing it all over the floor (I cannot stop this), or cracking open forbidden cabinet ---
--Doors! Right. So when SD opened the door, I was already poised for action, and whooshed by her feet and out into the hall. I sort of hunkered down and began to nose my way on my admittedly clumsy kitten reconnaissance, overpowered by a sudden wash of scents… dog… humans… and other things I could not identify, something like a strange food mixed with cleaning product….but then HARD hands knuckled down and grabbed me up into the air, and a last whiff of something utterly foreign passed over me before the door shut behind us and it was all over. It was my other Uprighter, G., who had swooped in and grabbed me up, and boy was he mad at this poor four-footer! I sat bewildered while they stared at me, yelling “NO!” I was thoroughly miserable and just wanted to go over to one of them to be picked up and held—no one can be mad at me while holding me; this is a proven fact…when I noticed that SD was trying hard to suppress a purr—she ended up giggling, and making much over how I bellied down out in the hall like a soldier elbowing his way through the trenches. ‘Or like a badger,’ said G. Ok, so I wasn’t at my suave feline best! And it really wasn’t much worth it—just another stretch of hallway with ugly carpet blooming unreal flowers. Interesting smells, though.
Well, Stella, I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know me—and a little of what goes on behind that door Uprighters are always disappearing behind for hours and hours—sometimes for dreaded days, when a neighbor comes in to feed me. Now that we know it is nothing but more hallway, the mystery of their attraction to it deepens! Maybe they like to lie down in the corners out there, and it’s always a territorial standoff thing…Do let me know if you ever find out more about what happens when your Two Legs goes behind ‘The Front Door’—I remain, I confess—curious!
Anycat, Stella, if we ever met, I’m sure it would be a social disaster, because I tend to take non-human visitors as a bit of a threat, and rush up my carpeted pole to my ceiling perch, where I feel most comfortable hissing at the unwanted guest. No, it’s best we don’t meet in the fur, but I look forward to reading your stories, which should make all four-footed creatures proud and catapult you to the highest literary perch of all, where many birds wait to fall into your claws!
Ah! Nice dream…time for a quick nap. Ah mm ….mm