Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dead Cat

Cynthia's blog is just plain fun. If you have not read about Dr. West, you need to heist your hinder over there right away to here what the renowned pioneer in women's health has to say. I've never laughed so hard in my life. Thank goodness he's dead all these many years, or someone would have to do it. Probably some crazed hormonal woman who was darn sick and tired of hearing what he had to say, I'd wager. What a hoot. Anyways, Cynthia posted a Halloween post, and asked for our scary stories. Here's mine. It's replete with a body, and this is a true story which took place when I lived in Midland, Michigan, out on Badour Rd.
Being the mom, of course my home ran like well oiled machinery. This explained why I was throwing on clothes and darting out to the little country grocery store at the end of our road to buy a gallon of milk at 6 AM. As I pulled out of our driveway, I saw, much to my horror, our cat, lying squashed in the road. I did not want the kids to see Mosey, so after I got milk and got them settled with breakfast, I sneaked back out to scrape the carcass off the road. I put him in the garage, and pretended that everything was normal. I figured there would be plenty of time for a really good cry after I got everyone where they needed to be. So that's what I did, and when the house was empty, I had my coffee, and I had my cry, and then I headed out to dig a hole in the back yard.
Now as holes go, this was a work of art, because Mosey was a really good cat. We'd had him since Brianna was 5 and we were living in Baltimore. Mosey had yowled his way from Baltimore to Michigan, nonstop, but seemed to really enjoy country living, despite all his fuss. I was driving the car with the cat, and with a newborn infant, having given birth just a month before. Really, it was a miracle he didn't find his kitty self plunked somewhere along the road half way in between, but really this is a testimony to my fine and noble charactor, I think. We were stuck with each other for the duration of the trip, the other car containing one husband, two children, the dog, two parakeets, and a very large ficus tree. So when a beast is part of your family like Mosey was, without question, you dig a very nice hole for him, and you weep copious tears remembering all the Mosey stories. When the hole was done, I went into the garage, and I wrapped him carefully in an old receiving blanket, crying a little bit more, and when I stepped from the darkness of the garage to the bright outdoors, I almost tripped over Mosey who was licking his bottom in the driveway right outside of the garage. At my stifled shriek, he stopped what he was doing, and stared at me curiously from beneath his hind leg, tongue still extended. I looked at the blanket wrapped bundle in my hands, and I looked at my cat.
Now comparing the two, side by side, there were some obvious differences...the sock on this leg was a little higher, and the patch on his chest was shaped differently, but really, these cats looked a lot alike. Problem was, one was dead and one was not. The live one was mine. I didn't know what to do with the dead one. It didn't seem right to just toss him in the hole in our backyard. I mean, if it were my cat, I'd want to know. It didn't seem like a very nice thing just to put him back where I found him either. Thus began the strangest afternoon of my life.
You cannot just walk up to someone's door with a dead cat in your hand and say, "Hey, I found this on the road. Is it yours?" So I began at one end of the road, and I knocked on doors. I said, "Do you happen to have a cat, a black and white cat, neutered, 4 socks, patch on his chest, well fed?" And actually, a surprising number of them did. But everyone assured me that it wasn't their cat, who had slept on their bed last night, or who had had breakfast with them, or was standing at their side looking through the door at me as we talked. I left a phone number and brief message on the doors of folks that were not home. I hit every single house on our road. And when no one claimed the cat, I buried him in our back yard. The kids were quite helpful in this, and it was a very nice funeral. It wasn't their cat after all, so they could feel quite bad for him with no tears at all. Our cat followed along with the procession, showing no signs of grief, but you know, cats are kind of like that. But 'Cat Doe' was buried on a fine autumn day, with appropriate ceremony, and the funeral was well attended, the mourning well done.
And at the end of that very long day, I was padding through the house in my flannel nightgown, doing the things that moms do at the end of the day, after the kids are tucked in and asleep. The phone rang, and I grabbed it quickly before it woke anyone. A sobbing voice said, "Is this the lady who found the cat?" With a sinking heart, I said, "Yes." I was speaking to the owner of this cat. I was right. He was well loved. He had a family. They wanted him. I stammered, "Well, gees, I buried him in the backyard when nobody claimed him. I didn't know what else to do." Damn. Wouldn't you know? They had a back yard too. They wanted him in it, which explains what I was doing, just minutes later, in the backyard in the dark, in a cold autumn rain, in a flannel nightgown under my coat, and big rubber boots, digging up the cat while a sobbing woman held the flashlight.
Now if this were a great Halloween story, it would wind up with a dirt covered cat yowling at my door a few days later, but it didn't go like that. This is merely a funny Halloween story. The cat had the good grace to stay buried this time.


MuseSwings said...

Debbie - thank you so much for enlightening the world about Dr. West. That was very sweet of you to do. Your Cat Doe story is the funniest (if a poor dead squished cat can be funny) thing I've ever read! It's got everything - tears, trauma, shovels scraping in the night, live dead cats, flannel nightgowns. Perfect and perfect! Thanks for a great true Halloween tale. Still laughing...Cynthia

Anonymous said...

Actually, you also just described my cat. She is alive and well here in Australia, though...

Hal Johnson said...

Funny, funny story.

You remember the five cats born at our place. When they got a couple of months old I did the manly fatherly thing and put my foot down: we were NOT going to keep all five of those cats.

I'm pleased to report that we now only have FOUR of those cats. The one that got adopted lives quite close. Conditions, y'know.

Lavinia said...

Oh dear. What a story. I am relieved the cat was claimed by its rightful owner. You went above and beyond the call of neighbourly duty.

Pencil Writer said...

Great story! Have buried too many loved cats/kittens to not be touched by your experience.

Glad for the 'happy'(?) ending.

Debby said...

PW - yeah, it 'twar a happy ending. Odd, but happy.

Hal - You are right. It is all about putting your foot down. You're the man, alright. LOL!

Rhubarb - Thank goodness your cat is in Australia. Saves me from ever having to bury it.

Museswing: Oh everyone needs to know about Dr. West.

Lavinia - Where's my credit card? And how's Fiji?

jeanie said...

I am sorry, but I laughed out loud at your oddest job of your life.

Lavinia said...

Debby: Fiji fine, ccard maxd ot!

steviewren said...

Thanks for not creeping me out with a story about a ghost cat or something like that!

So do you think of your cat as being on his second life...?

PaintedPromise said...

i thought i was gonna fall out of my chair... the poor kitty and the poor sobbing woman, but really, you and Mikey are the only people i know that this would happen to. not even me!!!