Sunday, May 10, 2009

Memories of a Cat

I had a pretty good business mowing the lawns in Suebelle's neighborhood. Whenever Lawrence and Almeda went on vacation, I was paid to mow the grass. I can't blame them for taking vacations, but what did they do with Suebelle? Did she go with them or did she just sit there in her chair, oozing bodily functions until the inebriated return of her parents. Or maybe they trucked her off to "Revival" (Hall-lay-LOU- yah!) where they would pray for a miracle healing (or a merciful death). I don't know, and really can't stomach dwelling on that subject. All I know is that I would mow the grass, and when I was done I would go across the street and mow the grass of the neighbor lady Mrs. Hole.

What a dreadful name.

but at the same time, what a fitting name. I can't remember much about her appearance. I'm sure it is better that way really. Somewhere in the deep recess of my cognition, I think she wore black as if in mourning. Always in black. I don't think she had a face at all . Just a black dress, baggy skin, snaggly teeth, and a wallet full of five dollar bills to pay for the mowing. I was never invited in to the house( thank god for small favors).When I would finish mowing she would be there with the cash. She was always watching me as I mowed her tiny patch of weeds and swept the broken stairs that led to her dwelling. She had cats. lots of cats. There was a small broken, filthy window that led to her cellar. On a warm day, I could smell the dirt floor, oily rags, and mothballs wafting through the broken glass. Sometimes as I mowed near the house a mangy, matted cat would jump out of the cellar and scare the crap out of me. Did it live there? Could she possibly 'care' for these feral, diseased animals?
One week while I mowed, a single cat lay next to the walk, gasping out its last breathe. I nudged it with my foot as I picked up sticks preparing to mow. It didn't move. It's eyes were glassed over and it was heavy with death. I mowed the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street. The cat didn't move. I mowed up to the walk. The cat laid there in the tall grass surrounded by the stink of gathering death. I mowed a tidy circle right around the cat . Grass clippings covered its fur and stuck to its eyes. I couldn't believe I just mowed around this creature, but didn't know what else to do. I couldn't possibly touch it, let alone move it. I finished the lawn, and as I was sweeping the walk, prodded the cat one more time. It then bolted from it's deathbed, hissed out a raspy breathe, and slithered away, dragging its helpless hind legs behind it. I felt like screaming. It lurched through the broken window and into the darkness of the cellar. Where it had been laying, the grass was yellow and wet. A knot of maggots frantically squirmed, having been abruptly ripped away from their meal and home.

Sweat poured out of my body as I reeled from what I had just seen. I wanted to leave right then...I didn't care about money after what I had just witnessed. I turned, and there was Mrs. Hole with a wadded and slightly wet five dollar bill . I think she was grinning. All I could see was an oval of yellow matted grass and those hideous teeth. My hand shook as I reached out for the bill, not wanting to come any closer to her than I had to, only wanting to leave on my bicycle as quickly as I could manage.

The next week, the grass where the cat had been was dry and dead. A tall circle of unmowed grass told the story.


  1. Sad, moved, a bit creeped out. That is how it made me feel reading that story. Life is based on your perspective isn't it? :)

    Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the comment Frog Queen.

  3. Whoa. That's intense. Felt like I was there. I've had a few experiences like that myself. They stick with you don't they?

  4. Yes. Yes they do.

    And every now and then one comes bubbling to the surface. I have found it very useful to deal with some of the old demons by writing about them.

  5. So, first you mow around an obviously suffering animal, then you just take your money and walk away. You're an ASSHOLE.

  6. Anonymous,
    I never said I was proud of these actions, but was rather recalling an extremely vivid memory from my youth. I was most likely 10 to 12 yrs old at the time, putting the incident in my past by 30 years. I have always been horrified at the way some people treat thier animals, and this is probably the worst encounter I have ever had with a neglected pet in my life. The most merciful thing that could have happened for this poor creature was if its owner had taken it to be euthanized. I understand your horror and repulsion, but please do not put the blame on a mere child.