Your Cat's Dead
A car zipped by, tossing her stringy auburn hair across her face as she stared at the road. For some reason she thought of how much she needed a shower but, since that morning, continued to feel too lazy. Another engine, another breeze. Her eyes were an unusual shade of hazel, not quite brown, not quite green; just this undecided mix. Standing on the curb in her bare feet she continued to stare. She wasn't quite sure of what she saw, and she figured that, rather than risk possible injury by darting onto the busy road to confirm it all, she would stand there with conjecture.
There along the center line of the sticky hot asphalt marked a gory sight. A black mottled mess of guts and fur, smeared on the road and attracting a caravan of flies. She could see at least five buzzing giddily around the carcass and it made her feel a slight inclination towards the shower she'd been putting off. There was no mistaking what the dead thing was, though: it was definitely a cat. A very dead black cat, his whiskers jaggedly poking through the muggy air, his tail flattened against the pavement.
She'd never been fond of cats in general, but he'd somehow convinced her. He'd named him Hunter S. Thompson, after the writer. As another car swished by she remembered the day he'd brought Hunter home, that stupid cat. Hunter had been deaf and half-blind, with crooked whiskers and a distinct – read: very distinct – voice. He purred like a diesel engine and he spoke in a low growl-y meow that was never to be missed, especially when he was hungry. She wondered how he ever caught any birds with the amount of noise that he made, but somehow he always managed to leave his kill on her bed, splayed out in a pretentious fashion. After he'd left, had packed his things and vacated her tiny room, she would wake to a diesel engine on top of her head. That damn cat.
It was Hunter squished into the road. She was pretty sure. That meant she would have to call him. She was…less sure. Were there any other black cats in the neighborhood? She couldn't remember seeing any. He would want to know, it being his cat and all. She sighed, displeased with the prospect.
Shifting on bare feet she pulled out her cell phone and contemplated it for a moment. A text message would have done the job, but perhaps it was too heartless, too unfeeling and cold. It would have definitely saved some of her phone minutes. Your cat is dead, come scrape him off the road. Hm, it did sound a bit harsh. Her fingers dialed the familiar numbers and she waited with a stirring of butterflies as it rang.
"Hello?" he answered, sounding distracted.
"I think Hunter's dead." She informed matter-of-factly, still watching the lifeless roadkill.
"Actually, I'm almost pretty sure that he's dead – on the road. I think a car ran him over."
Silence. Then, "You're sure?"
"Yes." She could hear the sadness and disbelief in his voice. He really loved that silly old cat. "Can you come over and…take care of it?"
He sighed and she imagined him running his fingers through his dark waves. "Yeah. I'll be there in a bit."
She slipped the phone back into the pocket of her rolled up jeans and stood there, waiting. Quite a few more cars passed in the time that she waited for him to arrive. They all swerved to avoid the cat smear. The light of the afternoon was slowly fading into a sunset which she figured was rather appropriate for the death of something, cat or otherwise. Her stomach twisted in knots at the thought of him – seeing him, speaking to him, being in the same space. Ironically it had been the cat that had driven them apart; now he was making his peace by bringing them back together in death. Irritating to the very end, she thought bitterly.
The old familiar rumble of his Honda Civic went by about twenty minutes after the call had been made. He parked in the driveway of her house, only a couple houses down, and sauntered to where she stood staring sadly.
"Oh man…" he sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.
"He probably didn't hear or see it coming," was the only thing she could seem to mention.
"Yeah," his half-smile was rueful.
He braved the lessening traffic to quickly grab what was left of Hunter, using gloves to gently place him in a box they found in the shed. She sat on the porch and watched him dig a grave near the cherry tree in the back yard. He'd made it clear that he hadn't wanted her help. A glass of cheap red wine helped to ease the sting of his words.
When all was said and done she stood staring down at the small mound of dirt. A sense of loss and…even sadness stirred within her, but she wasn't sure if it was because of the young man standing next to her or the cat buried below. The sun began to sink, splaying oranges and pinks across the sky, casting golden light on the fresh grave.
He sighed and his shoulders slumped as he too stared down at the dirt. "Hunter, you were a comfort in life. You were the best listener, good with conversation, and…and you'll be missed very very dearly." After a long moment of silence he turned to her. "Do you want to say a few words?"
She bit her lip but said nothing.
"Come on. Anything." He was trying to make her feel guilty for not showing more emotion, but frankly she didn't care.
Finally her brows drew together. "Hunter S. Thompson, I hated you. Actually I still hate you. You were always hungry, you wanted attention at the most inconvenient times, you had to be in everyone's business all the time, and you left five fucking birds on my bed! I can't say I even remotely liked you at all and now that you're dead…." She sighed, feeling a little release. "Now that you're dead, I'm glad because now I can sleep past six in the goddamn morning."
Quickly she crossed herself, feeling that that was the most religious way to end a funeral service, and marched across the lawn back to the porch to reclaim her wine.
"If you hated him so much then why did you keep him?" his voice carried to her ears and halted her steps.
She didn't look back - couldn't look at him as the truth escaped. "Because…Because he was the only thing that reminded me of you."
He didn't respond which she was a little glad for. Instead he sauntered over to the porch steps and sat down. "Can I have some wine?"
"Yeah, sure." She murmured quickly, thankful for the escape to her kitchen. Her heart still pounded at the admission. Stupid cat. Stupid cat. The relationship had ended months ago, and yet she couldn't seem to stop…feeling. He believed she was incapable of such a thing, of any real emotion at all. Instead he'd poured his frustrations out to a blind and deaf cat. And now that cat was dead.
She handed him the glass, hoping he wouldn't notice her trembling fingers, and sat a safe distance away three steps up. Her wine glass occupied her thoughts to fill the space of silence in the light of dusk. She should have showered that morning.
Suddenly he stood and moved up the three steps to where she sat, settling down beside her with a sigh. She could smell the scent of his cologne when he moved and took a large gulp of wine to curb her thoughts. They weren't together anymore. Period.
"Did you mean it?" he asked quietly.
There was a pause, one that made her shift a little nervously. "What you said about Hunter – that you hated him."
She frowned and hesitated. While she didn't want to hurt his feelings – he'd obviously held great attachment to the stupid feline – she couldn't lie. "I meant every word."
It was his turn to frown, dark hair waving across his forehead and into his deep brown eyes. "But you were always talking to him, always feeding him. I thought…I thought you loved that cat."
The times she spoke to Hunter had been an experiment. He had always been talking to him, she figured there had to be something to it. Sure, the thing had listened, but his response had been to knead her thigh and call for more attention. Some advice. "I only fed him so he would stop annoying the shit out of me. And I talked to him because you were always doing it."
He took a large gulp of his wine and looked to her with an amused smile. "I only talked to him because you said you read an article that cats were less talkative if you had conversations with them."
She blinked, remembering vaguely remarking on the topic. At the time she'd been at her wits end trying to deal with the overly chatty feline. "Wait. Are you saying you hated Hunter too?"
He seemed to look over to the cherry tree plot and shrugged. "I didn't hate him, but I didn't really like him. I mean, he got most of your attention so…I guess I was just jealous."
"Is that why you broke up with me?" she queried, immediately filling her mouth with the rest of the wine to keep from meeting his gaze.
There was a long silence. Then, "Yeah." he managed to capture her eyes anyway. "I'm sorry, Vee."
"Well," she shrugged, feigning nonchalance, as if his words hadn't felt just a little soothing. "If we'd known how much we'd both hated that stupid cat… I mean, I just thought…" words trailed as she felt his fingers entangle with hers.
There was an inevitability in the air, passing over the evening breeze and sweeping through her auburn hair. Her strange hazel eyes fell to her lap, then up to meet his eyes again. She wasn't sure who kissed who, but in seconds she felt her lips on his as her fingers ran through his dark locks. He pulled her closer and nipped her bottom lip, something he knew drove her crazy. Heart thudding, passion burning, the past buried under a cherry tree, the night grew heated and steamy.
In the morning she thought she might have regretted her decision, but she felt no remorse. Truthfully, she was in love with the boy sleeping soundly next to her, even with the slight trace of drool accumulating in the corner of his mouth. She smirked endearingly and gently rubbed the back of her crooked finger to remove it. Slowly he inhaled deeply and his eyes came to stare at her with a sleepy kind of observation. A smile came to his lips as his fingers entangled with her hair.
"Hi." He greeted quietly.
"Hi." They simply stared and smiled and stared some more, each of them silently thanking the car that had taken their cat's life. Who knew one could feel so much relief in the death of a cat?
"Vee?" his eyes suddenly blinked, head twisting slightly. "Do you hear that?"
She listened, strained to hear what it was he was hearing. Then she did hear it, heard it distinctly. "But he's…" before she could say 'dead' a tail poked through the crack in the door, pushing it open. Claws clicked noisily on the hardwood, and then they heard it clearly: the engine. His meow was unmistakable; it was definitely Hunter S. Thompson.
The feline immediately hopped up onto the bed, and, with clumsy alacrity only a deaf and blind cat could conjure, crawled over the two of them until he sat near their heads. As he plopped down between them with little grace, he let out a meow of command it seemed; he wished to be attended.
"I thought you said he was dead." He accused ruefully, though with mild amusement glittering in his eyes.
She sighed grudgingly, pushing Hunter's face away from hers so he would be less able to lick her cheek with his sandpaper tongue. "He was!"
Suddenly he laughed and leaned over the cat to kiss her soundly. "It would appear this one has nine lives, then."
It appeared he did.
Author's Note: I'm alive! And with more renewed vigor thanks once again to the powers of technology. Recently I received all of my writing which I had thought to be lost to the depths of an old pc. This is exciting because it means that you can expect continuations on most of the projects I've had on the go! Excitement!
Thanks for reading and please feel free to critique in any way you so choose :)