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With so much activity going on lately—an ongoing credit card dispute, some car trouble, an overseas trip to plan, papers to grade and used baggies to wash and obsessive dwelling on how to obtain medical marijuana when it becomes available—I haven’t been the best alpha cat lately. I wasn’t home to lead Group Play for the past two mornings, and stale kitty treats have replaced fresh turkey because the old turkey went bad. In response to these changes in routine, Sara has been digging in the plants and dragging her smelly butt across my bedspread. Instead of trotting happily down the hall at bedtime, Lucy hides her bad self in dark corners, making me poke at her with rolls of Christmas wrap I have yet to put away. In fact I have to chase both of them into their bedroom at night, when it wasn’t long ago that they skipped in there all by themselves.
They finally decided to stage a rebellion last night after lights out when I was just drifting off. Sara tried to open their bedroom door from the inside, pulling down on the lever with her front paws and letting it thwack back into place over and over again. When this didn’t work, she started yowling and Lucy started meeping and Sara began to throw herself against the door. I finally jumped out of bed and stormed into their room as I’m sure many mothers have done in the past. “NO!” I bellowed. “NO! NO! NO!” I shut my mouth for a moment to meet their startled gazes, and then screamed, “STOPPIIIIT!!!” That did the trick and I returned to my own room to greet a sleepless night, which I deserved for losing my temper.
This morning we were all awake at 5 a.m., me lying in bed feeling old and grizzled, them making the same kind of racket they were making the night before, still very out of character. I got up and let them out; we trudged into the dark morning together, Starsky and Yoda and Hutch.
At eight a.m. a painter knocked on my door, right on time, here to give me a bid on the exterior of my house. We walked around outside looking at my rotting fascia, the hundreds of nails and screws sticking out of my house like some kind of junkie, and then I spotted it: a mourning dove lying on the ground outside Sara and Lucy’s bedroom wall, under a tree. She was perfect except that she was dead. The painter seemed fine with this and carried on, but I could only focus on the dove and the immediacy of death. I thought back to Sara and Lucy last night, so upset. What had they seen? What had they heard? Had the dove been murdered? There wasn’t a mark on her. Was it a heart attack? Had Sara and Lucy understood what the dove was saying; had they heard her last words? Was it a friend of theirs from the feeder?
“Everybody’s time comes,” the painter said, trying to get me to acknowledge a drywall repair. He pointed out another dove sitting on my roof. “Look,” he said. “Its mate.” He walked back to his truck to write up an estimate as I stood in place, watching the widowed dove shuffle around on the shingles.
I told this story to Man Friend later on, and the first thing he said was, “The painter didn’t get rid of that dove for you? He didn’t throw it out? What a bum.” At first I thought Man Friend had missed the point entirely, but then I realized that actually, the penalty was on me. I remembered that most people don’t think like I do—a boon for men and women everywhere, for America itself, and the few people who suffer my friendship. I would have to make it up to Sara and Lucy, eye witnesses to my own crimes and more.