Hail five and crackerjacks,
Ten for sin, do it again.
We had a visitor last Saturday night. The vet and his buddy from across the street were drinking on our porch with tunes cranking on a SoundPod speaker, laughing and joking and having a good time, when he yelled at me to come quick.
“Do you see that?” He’s pointing to the steps. When I say no, he says, “Don’t you hear it?”
I don’t know if he heard growls, purrs, or meows… I never heard it, but when I put my eye glasses on, sure enough there was a black cat laying in the black shadows cast by the porch light, right on the second step. It ran off as I walked to the edge of the porch, then stopped a few feet away. My nine-year-old granddaughter was right beside me, down on her knees, saying, “Marsy, come here Marsberry.”
That’s not Marsberry. “It could be,” she insisted. “Cat’s have nine lives.”
It sure looked like Marsberry… a younger, thinner, and obviously feral version of my beloved black cat that crossed over last year. I held out my hand and made the clicking noise with my mouth that I always used to summon Marsberry and the feral cat came right to me, pushed up the palm of my hand with his head, the same gesture Marsberry used when he wanted his head rubbed, so I obliged. Then he nudged my leg and wanted rubbed again.
My granddaughter reached to pet him and he darted away, back into the shadows of the night. He was skittish, as feral cats tend to be. I told her to just sit still, clicked again and he came right back to me. She kept saying “that’s Marsberry” and I kept telling her no, he can’t be Marsberry.
The vet started talking about how I shouldn’t let that cat touch me, it hasn’t had any shots, it could have diseases… so, time for us to go back into the house.
A few minutes later, I got summoned again. “Come quick, you got to see this.”
I go to the door and look. The porch is well-lit, tunes still jack, the vet is on the bench, his buddy is in the chair, same spots as always, and there’s that feral cat up there on the porch, laying just like Marsberry would lay when he was on his self-appointed guard duty, glaring at the vet, staring him down, just like Mars use to do. The feral cat looked at me, then turned his eyes right back on the vet.
“Look at that. It’s in the exact same spot where you were standing. The exact same spot. Right there. Look. And it’s staring at me.”
Oh, okay. I see it… roll my eyes and walk away.
A little while later, the vet comes in and sits across from me at the kitchen table, obviously shaken. He looks me dead in the eye and says, “I’m scared. I’m really scared.”
I can’t help but tease… like what? You’re scared of a cat?
He’s serious, which surprised me. Expressing fear is not in his play book. He’s a tough guy, ex-military, comes off as an old G. This is a guy who knocked a mugger out cold with one punch, so it amused me that he would be scared of a little ol’ kitty cat.
But it stares at him, just like Mars did…
Marsberry hated the vet and the feeling was mutual. They barely tolerated each other up until the last week or so of Mar’s life, when the cat went out of his way to make friends with the vet. Even the vet realized that Mars was making peace because he knew he was dying, that he was passing the torch, asking the vet to take care of his human.
He tells me they chased it off the porch and it came around to the side, stood right between the bushes I had just trimmed next to the porch, and kept on staring at him. It won’t go away, so they are going to go across the street to hang out on his buddy’s porch. He won’t be long… he’s hungry and his supper is waiting on the stove.
I told him not to worry about that cat; I’m not going to adopt it. He says, “You might not have a choice. I can see it now. When you sit outside, that cat will be right by your feet. I’m really scared and you know why.”
Oh my… yes, I know why… a couple of days after Mars died, the vet felt an invisible cat brush past his legs. It freaked him out back then, and here is this feral cat that looks like Marsberry, acts like Marsberry, and stares him down just like Marsberry. It can’t be Marsberry as Mars’ ashes are in a tin can. He’s not seeing things, it is not his imagination, as everyone else see it, too. I petted it, and it rubbed my leg… so it can’t be a ghost cat. So, what can it be?
It’s just a cat that looks and acts like Mars, but God works in mysterious ways and that’s what scares the vet. He thinks this cat stares him down because somehow, maybe Mars told him, but somehow, this cat knows that he’s not doing right by me.
A few minutes after the vet walked out the door, my granddaughter noticed the screen door was standing open. She could see it in the arch windows on top of the steel door so I went to investigate. It was the vet. He was just standing there holding the screen door open while he looked out into the darkness of the yard, presumably at that cat. He came in, said, “Babe, I need some money.” I gave him ten, assuming they were sending another neighbor on a beer run, and he left again.
The vet never made it across the street to his buddy’s house. He vanished right off the porch, somehow ended up downtown, and used MY money to buy a fucking rock.
I had him dead to rights, no wiggling out of this one… there was no other reason, no valid excuse to disappear into the night, nothing to justify going downtown at that hour.
I’m losing my man to this drug. I just told him a couple days ago that I feel like he is leaving me in slow motion, that he’ll walk out that door someday and never come back. Of course, that’s all me… I just think too much, there’s nothing going on, he’s not going anywhere.
I sent him a text on Sunday afternoon knowing damn well that it might be the text to end everything: “What’s your poison? Why did you go downtown last night? Rumor has you smoking crack. I love you no matter what, so IF that is what’s going on, no need to tell me, just get a grip.”
No reply. Damn. Hail five and crackerjacks, next time sin on your own damn dime.
A few minutes later, he was yelling “hey” at my open window. The man had found a ride and came straight home. There was no denial, no discussion beyond saying, “I read your little text” when he came in and hugged me.
Well, the cat is out of the bag now.
I don’t know what comes next. He’s trying. All I can do is love him and pray for him, light a candle for him when he wanders. I cannot, will not police or mommy him so it is still his own little war. He’s been to rehab (his daughter told me) so hopefully he can apply some of the things he learned there. If he could will himself to walk again after doctors told him that he would never walk again, he can overcome this addiction.
One thing for damn sure, I will not finance any slips… hell no. If he wants to kill himself, he can do it on his own dime. And, on his own time. It’s not happening here. I cannot control his behavior, just my own, which means saying good-bye if I have to… I don’t want to, but I might not have a choice.
Maybe I shouldn’t write about any of this… it’s too personal, too private, too whatever.