Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rest In Peace

She was shot.

She began life in the feral swamp waters of Bladensburg, Maryland; another sister and brother came and went before her, not surviving long in this world. She was a bit more determined to make it, hissing at anyone who would look at her side-ways. She left the world much as she entered it, swiping and clawing and I am looking at the bite marks and scratches to prove it. The streets of Bladensburg can be rough, and she was true to its creed: "live hard, roll free, die young". Though her last bites and scratches were against me, she was a wounded creature in pain, and so all is forgiven.

Grasshopper was a black, female cat. Her name was for the small white fumanchu markings that surrounded her mouth like the moustache. And while some people would look at her occasional hissing and limited temperament for being touched as signs of an unwelcome pet; for Grasshopper it was just part of who she was. Cats have personality and she was born of feral swamp cats and determined not to forget her roots. She was loyal, and often brought us treats and homages for the cans of fancy feast she was fed (shrimp, fish eyeballs, fish and crab was her favorite) in an assortment of voles, mice, birds, squirrels, crickets and even once a rabbit. She always left a little bit for us, usually at the front steps or on the yard sidewalk which required last-minute stepping over to avoid dirtying your dress shoes rushing to the morning train. She liked bath tubs and running water, and would trill in a unique and adoring way when she wanted something. When she was a little kitten she slept in the folds of the bed blankets and kept you warm or maybe even fell asleep on your pillow.

She was six years old, and had lived in this new house for approximately nine months. She was probably still exploring this new area when it happened. I don’t know who, but in my head it went something like this. One of the neighborhood kids, probably no older than 13 or 14 was given a pretty BB gun by his parents one birthday or Christmas. I think I would be assuming too much if I believed the parents had any kind of serious talk about the responsibilities of having a weapon that can kill or injure. I had a BB gun once, and I remember killing a bird with it. Actually, wounding a bird which required my boot-heel to end its suffering and complete witha cigar box burial. So, this kid saw my cat, and being bored and hopefully not really thinking about what he was doing, he aimed, and shot.

I don’t know if I’m sad that this kid will never know the true consequences of his actions, worried he may not care, or if I’m simply ashamed that I didn’t do more to save her. I could have saved her, if I wanted to spend several thousand dollars on surgery. But I didn’t. Instead, I went back to the hospital to retrieve a box with my cat in it. I knew I would have guilt and shame for making this decision, but I am prepared to live with it. I just wish this kid was too.

Goodbye Grasshopper. I love you and am sorry I was so selfish.