This sucks. A friend of mine called and wanted me to go knock down a few beers in Valdosta and I told her I couldn’t because the Loki Mutt had eaten my wallet. |I’ll buy!” she laughed at me. “This is going to be great!” No thanks. I’m not overfond of bars, and I certainly do not want to be the center of attention as the man without funds. I do some writing instead, and look for my wallet, and finally get stir crazy. I have fuel enough to get to and from work for a few days, and there’s a branch of my bank near work so I can cash a check. But right now I have about three dollars and a half on me.
There’s some quarters I used as laundry mat fodder when I wash the mutt blankets, and so I scrape together enough for a five dollar sub. It’s going to be weird paying with twenty-one quarters and a dime, but these people know me. It’s not like I’m going to look like one of those homeless people who pay for everything with change. Can you tell this is annoying the hell out of me? I want to slip a card through a reader and not speak to the people at the counter unless I have to do so. I remember a homeless guy paying for a twelve pack of beer in Valdosta with change and how the clerk (and I) was annoyed the man was taking up so much time counting out pennies and nickels.
Thankfully, the place is empty where I get there, but none of the people I know are working there. Dammit! Worse, just as soon as things get started a crowd comes in. Great! The better part of a dozen people will see me pay for food with change. Oh the humanity! (Did you see that guy with all the change? How desperate is that? He looked drunk to me! I bet he’s homeless and has verb confusion). These people are apparently two chaperones and some group of tweens who have been taking white sugar and meth intravenously until they arrived. They’re like a school of fish in as much as one of them will see something fascinating which causes all of them, en masse, to converge upon whatever point of attraction that has appeared. I’m plugged into my MP3 player, have on sunglasses and a hat, so I ignore them. They all rush to the window squee-ing about a cat, and just for an instant I thumb down the volume. Please don’t tell me someone hit a cat in the parking lot. Nope, stray cat, or says the manager, two of the tweens go to rescue the cat and are immediately recalled.
It’s like a herd of Boxxy clones. They’re all speaking at once and nonstop. They rush around like minnows, to the window to see the cat, to the counter to all talk at once to the clerk about the food, back to the window, back to the food, back to the window, and all the while, the poor minimum wage drone is thinking quite seriously about going outside and burning one until all this goes away. By the time my food is ready I’ve got all the money laid out in groups. Five groups of four quarters, and a quarter and a dime off by themselves and that’s my life’s savings right now. It’s like I’m the quarter, with a dime’s worth of sanity, and I’m surrounded by five bucks worth of madness. I like the analogy.
I have to stop when I get outside. There’s a cat. The cat. This cat.
I want a cat. I miss cats. I want to live with a cat, and have cat things again.
“Are you going to take her with you?” A tween has escaped her charges and has come to negotiate for the cat’s survival. She’s thirteen, fourteen, hell, I can’t tell, everyone under twenty-five looks the same most of the damn time. “I’ll help you catch her.” The Tween says this as if she can catch the cat, I have to take the cat. She gets down on her knees and coos. The cat washes her foot, with one eye on Tween. “Kitty kitty kitty kitty” coos Tween.
“I can’t have a cat.” I say. “I have Sam.”
“Sam?” The Tween stands up. This one is fearless. By sheer force of will, and by right of the Universe as to what ought to be, she has taken up The Cause.
“Kelly get in here NOW!” The male chaperone has come to rescue me from the Tween.
“We’re trying to get the cat!” Kelly isn’t moving. The man advances on us as if he’s going to physically carry her back. Lo! He picks her up at her waist and she squeals. “We have to get the cat! Get the cat! Get the cat!” He tickles her and she screams with laughter, her mission forgotten.
With three dogs, and the Loki Mutt as amped as those young ones in there, no, I cannot, really, it would be just short of murder. No, actually not short of, it would be. Sam with a young puppy to train, no, that’s criminal.
If she lets me get near her. The cats dissolves into invisibility, the way only cats can do as I approach. The Tweens AWWWWWW in unison from within. “Go get her!” Kelly yells at me through the window. I shake my head. “Sam.” I say back.
I get onto my truck and leave.