This little gray kitten is all eyes. It is frail because of troubled digestion and mucus-clogged nose. Its sister is black with a white streak, more robust and less active. It has crusty eyes, infected. Nevertheless, their day is always punctuated with cat rodeos around the house, thumping and skidding. They do not meow. I do not know why.
For a moment this little creature is curled on my fleece bosom after hooking her way up my disreputable nightgown, because my habit is to rise at dawn and write while still in in nightclothes. This is probably a moral failing or at least unaesthetic, but it gets a lot of writing done.
These kittens are the third generation of previously feral cats. Their grandmother pushed her way into the house, following a tomcat, Finnegan, that arrived in the neighborhood half-grown and not welcome. It had “bengal cat” blood — that is, long legs and bad attitude. This is not a sweet story.
When my mother died twenty years ago, I bet on my future by buying a house in a little town I already knew next to the Blackfeet reservation where I lived in my Twenties. I would write — first about my axis mundi, Bob Scriver, who died just as I prepared to move. He was in his eighties. He did not have a pleasant old age, partly because he was indignant about corruption in Western art so the boosters shunned him, and partly because he kept everything the same except the wives.
The first of these kittens to grow up in the house was Blue Bunny who was the daughter of Smudge, the runt of the litter that arrived with the Granny Mamacat. Bunny only existed because when I cleared out the kittens from shelter I had provided in the back shed (an old dog house), she was somehow lost in the rags. Smudge raised her under a big pile of firewood, actually downfall from my many poplar trees. Blue Bunny had her kittens in my bed, alongside me, and I drowned all but one which I left to grow up, thinking one more would not upset everything. By then I had run off Finnegan for destroying and contaminating the house.
I did what what I had planned. For the first ten years I worked on my house and yard. Then things began to go wrong. Publishing degenerated and was revealed as only benefiting a business by making money. Writers were only there to provide an excuse and some cover for greed based on what would sell, namely whatever was violent, shocking, and cynical. The town infrastructure, 100 years old, began to be a problem which made some people very angry. My neighbors went rogue.
These current two kittens, from Bunny’s kittens, Tuxedo and Douxie, are curled on a fleece in the window now, having given up tearing out each other’s throats (it’s just a mock) and needing to replenish. Their lives revolve around each other. They eschew litter boxes.
The national politics began to curdle. The town’s two sexual predators aged out and died, along with a madman who claimed to see black helicopters rise out of the lake. But an FBI honeypot caught a business man who was willing to pay hundreds of dollars to fuck a pre-teen girl, luckily imaginary. Trump began to be extraordinarily erratic and offensive, but most of the local people still admired him. They are much persuaded by fame and fortune.
An assortment of cats began to gather on my property, mostly in the back shed, some owned and others not even feral, wild from the beginning. A few were old kittens, returned home as adults, kittens I didn’t find and drown. I heard rumors that someone during this forty-below deep-snow winter was providing warming boxes. That was me.
Finally governmental safeguard bodies and behind-the-scenes figures began to create and operate the machinery meant to cull bad people from important jobs. It is very slow and so secret that we wonder if anything is happening at all. Simultaneously we elected a sheriff, a coarse narcissistic joker, who was finally accused of family abuse which took him out. In the meantime he had fired the effective, attractive officers, accusing them of sexual misbehavior.
Recently I burned the stinking warming boxes because the temp is above freezing even at night and the snow is melted. I drowned another batch of kittens, which caused the “queen” (technical term for a female cat) to go back into heat. Not only were feline inseminators invading my yard and garage, but they fought each other, such big aggressive cats that I called them “bull tomcats.” Screaming, wailing, tearing, strewing. Douxie, who was born with one “ball,” tried to be an effective tomcat and got tore up. I took him to the vet for removal from the struggle. $50.
No one wanted to be a “leader” of the town. They were called up by angry people late at night, they had to comply with state laws invented by people who immigrated from back East, and the weather was violently extreme. One city worker was hired for a better job. The other badly hurt his back. Rumors and resentments rule the day. Grizzlies walked into town. Everyone was angry that Fish and Game “allowed” this. Town businesses closed. No one attended town meetings.
With Douxie out of the way, Tuxie (she’s colored like a tuxedo) took over part of his personality — the demands, the need to go out/in/out/in, the tearing up of furniture, the noise. Thimble (gray) and Thread (black) found this wonderful. Bunny and Tuxie shared the kitten-raising though only Tux had milk. She also developed a Bat-woman aspect, rushing outside with her front claws raised for combat, striding on back feet like Tyrannosaurus, which put the run on all bull-tomcats.
Blogging was a revelation. I consider it as legitimate as writing books, but no one else does. I contacted my childhood playmate who took it as proof that I was a loser, emotionally a mess, economically just a sucker, never reliable or an achiever, overdramatic, afraid to use my real name. But I had talent. If I would just learn to write more like Michener (white, patronizing, male) I might make myself something. Oops. People who had just read a blog post of mine for the first time instructed me to “keep writing,” as though if they didn’t command me, I wouldn’t do it. They think it’s a compliment and the convention is that writers are all aspiring to something that will make them famous and rich, so they considered themselves supportive. They did not send money.
The fantasy is that all kittens are cuddly, loving, and cute. It’s no more accurate than assumptions about writers. I live somewhere between the two sets of beliefs, neither of them accurate, and wonder what to do with my previous high regard for the leaders of the country and the safety of small towns. I still like cats and am too tolerant. Hemingway had a lot of cats. He should have kept writing. If he could have stayed alive.