Old man and cat talk while the country sickens and dies
The radio station where I work part time has 12 parking spaces in the lot, though there are seldom more than seven cars parked between the yellow lines. There is a cemetery at one edge of the lot, a cemetery from the 1700s because this is Massachusetts. Inside the cemetery, broken gravestones are piled up on the ground. Others are worn down like the stumps of broken teeth.
Through the old stones, on many mornings, there walks a cat.
She is feral and has no name, though she is very pretty. Her main shelter is the fenced-in back yard of a nearby house owned by a police officer and his wife. They leave food and water out for her and, when the weather is bad, she sleeps under their deck.
She is mostly white, with big, irregularly distributed splotches of a color I describe as "caramel." It is my favorite color on a cat.
I can't touch her, not even if I try to make those high-pitched smoochy noises with which my wife can draw cats from the next county. My own whiskey tenor voice does not impress the cat.
But treats do.
"I'll get you a bag of treats to keep in your car," my wife said when I told her about the pretty cat. "She should have treats."
She'll come within four feet of me, no closer, and I'll lob her the treats underhanded and then back away while she comes forward to eat.
And I watch her.
In my hunting days, I shot and ate animals smaller than her. Sometimes, I only wounded them, and they made awful noises before I finished them off. I was not bothered. I was young, and the world was there for me to conquer, to kill. A young man is a terrible thing, which is why we send them to fight the increasingly purposeless wars we lose.