Let’s just call him The Writer, or TW for short. Over the next way little while, episodes from TW’s life back in the day will appear each Wednesday.
One Saturday afternoon TW was out and about. During his out and about, he stopped in at Costco for a short run inside. When he returned to his car, a group had gathered around it.
“What did I do?” he asked, feeling as if he had done something wrong. Not knowing what it was sent dread through his body.
He approached his Ford. “What’s going on?” he asked the woman at the edge of the group.
“There’s a cat inside the engine.”
The group turned to him as if he were guilty of something. He wasn’t but they sure made him feel that way.
“What am I going to do?” he asked himself. Then he realized they wanted him to pop the hood open. “Of course,” he said, now knowing what to do.
He opened his car door and pulled the lever, releasing the hood.
One of the men, a tall blond fellow in his early twenties, propped the hood up. A teenager twisted his hand inside the engine. Soon he pulled a small gray kitten out. It continued protesting, its squalling heard across the parking.
The teenager placed the gray kitten inside a small box. He handed TW the box.
“She’s claiming you,” the woman said to TW.
“But I don’t need a cat.”
“The question isn’t whether you need a cat. The answer is that she needs you.”
“But I’ve never had a cat. Besides I’ve always wanted a dog.”
The man who had propped the hood open didn’t have any patience with TW. “Well now you have a cat.”
The group dispersed.
TW looked at the box; the squalling cat looked at him. It was a pathetic needy look. There was a tendency in him to take the cat over to the grass on the other side of the parking lot and let her out of her box. But people were watching.
He crawled into his car and sat the box with its occupant on the passenger seat. He started his car and listened to the engine hum to the beat of the cat’s squalling. It was like cat and engine were singing a choral piece in a concert. A concert that had given him a headache.
With one hand on the cat’s head to keep her in the box, the other hand steered the car out of the parking lot and onto the highway. From time to time he’d look over at the small creature and think, “What kind of mess have I gotten myself into?”
As he closed in toward home, he pulled into a pet store parking lot. He glanced over at the animal and saw how helpless the creature was. It didn’t seem right in the universe’s scheme of things that such a helpless being should be forced to fend for itself. But what did he know about caring for a kitten? Nada. Nothing.
Maybe somebody in the pet store would take the kitten off his hands.
A store clerk greeted him at the door. She saw the box in TW’s hand. “Can I?” she asked.
“Of course,” he said and passed the box over to the clerk. Maybe, just maybe.
She stroked the squalling kitten as she led him around the store. She stopped and picked up some formula and poured it into a bottle. Then she slipped the bottle’s nipple into the kitten’s mouth. The kitten took the nipple, its squalling over. The woman looked up at TW. She had a “can I keep her” look on her face.
“Not on your life,” TW said as he reached over and took the kitten.
When he left the pet store, his wallet was fifty dollars short.