05 April 2009

Flash Comes of Age

בס''ד

Originally published at Desicritics.org on 2 April, 2009
Copyright © R. Kossover, 2009

My youngest son was on the computer, working on the layout of a book I'm editing. His older brother was already asleep, hugging the wall as is his wont. I watched Avi as he manipulated boxes from one end of the page to the other, fitting the text I had edited in them. He was impatient, like his father is, muttering curses in Arabic and Hebrew to vent his frustration.

Flash, our cat, was laying in his bed, a small round piece of fabric with a furry piece of cloth inside. Whenever our kids are home, Flash follows them as though they were demi-gods. You can almost see the anticipation on his face. "What's next, you big hairless cats?", he seems to be asking. And whenever it is evening, and when our kids are in their room, he sleeps in his special bed in the corner. I was looking at him, thinking of how we had dragged him a third of the world away from where he was born to be with us. He is not a pet, he is our friend. Every day, I get, among my other e-mails, e-mails seeking homes for wonderful cats. This will never happen to Flash; he is part of the family.

As I dwelt on that thought, my mind drifted back to St. Paul, to a winter Sunday morning about 12½ years ago.....

Flash came of age this morning.

Flash has been our living-room lion. He is light tan with barely noticeable stripes on his body and rings on his tail. We got him 28 months ago at the county Humane Society when he was 10 weeks old. He purred in my wife's arms like he'd always belonged there.

We brought him home and the little thing ran all over the house as fast as lightning. That's how he got his name. Since then, he has grown to a respectable fifteen pounds and his lightning has slowed a bit.

We were reading the paper in bed when we heard our sons' screams from downstairs. "There's a dead mouse in the dining room! Mommy! Daddy! You gotta come see! Flash killed a mouse!" I didn't quite believe the last part about Flash actually having made the kill.

Just under two years ago, a month after we had him de-clawed, we noticed Flash stalking the kitchen appliances. Our stove, refrigerator and spice cabinet all stand cheek by jowl on one side of the kitchen, with cracks only small enough for a mouse to crawl out of. Flash's attention was focused on the spice rack - two revolving shelves enclosed in a cabinet.

After finally recognizing the feral stillness of a hunter, I opened the cabinet and turned the rack. There was a leap. Fur raced past me. The paprika can was knocked over and Flash had a grey brown mouse in his mouth.

He deposited it on the kitchen linoleum. Then he growled at it, and hissed and spat. When the mouse started to move, he stopped it with his paw, and tested it in his teeth.

Then Flash picked up the mouse, which struggled with its tiny legs, and carried it into the dining room. There he put it down once again, growled at it some more, hissed at it and played with it with his teeth and his paws. Again the mouse tried escape. Flash caught it in his mouth and brought it into the living-room near the phonograph which sits diagonally in the corner of the room. But instead of beginning to feast on his prey, he dropped it on the carpet and walked a foot away to watch. This time, when the mouse ran, he got under the phonograph where Flash's paws couldn't reach. Flash sat by the phonograph, waiting. The mouse made a run for it under the coffee table toward the sofa. Flash leapt at it and missed. The mouse fled toward the other corner of the room and got behind the sofa. I tried moving the sofa, so that Flash could get behind it and chase it down, but Flash just meowed with discouragement at the phonograph. When I picked up Flash and brought him to the sofa, he returned to the phonograph to look for the mouse. He looked so puzzled and disappointed. Meanwhile, the mouse had made its way back to the kitchen and the safety of our fortress of appliances where it disappeared. Later, traps we set caught two mice.

It was then that I concluded that Flash was just a living-room lion, the feline equivalent of a nebbish.

My sons continued to yell about the dead mouse in the dining room. My wife went downstairs to see what the commotion was all about. I was putting on my robe when she returned. The mouse was in a Dixie cup. One arm and one leg was missing. This mouse, with reddish brown fur on top and white fur beneath, looked very dead.

Then my youngest started in about the mouse turds. "The mouse pooped on the carpet, Mommy!" he yelled. "Come and take a look!"

I examined the mouse in the cup while my wife went down to examine my son's claims. She yelled up to me. "It is mouse poop, Ruvy! There's a pile of it and it's soft. Ooh, it stinks! Yecchh! Now, I have to wash the carpet off."

I continued getting dressed, grateful to be upstairs. "How's the cat?" I yelled down.

"He looks very content," my wife answered. She sounded frustrated "He's licking himself and sitting on his chair. Why don't you come down here and help me?"

I'll never know exactly what happened because Flash is too modest to tell me. A walk through the kitchen when I got downstairs revealed the probable tale of events. The trap for the mouse was set inadvertently by my oldest son, who hungrily munched on peanut butter cereal and left a mess on the floor. After leaving the mess, he came upstairs to lay down with us in bed. Then the mouse came out to check the cereal.

Bad move.

Flash caught the mouse, scared it into an upsetting intestinal episode, and gobbled up an arm and a leg.

Flash got more than just the pleasure of his first kill this morning. For a reward, he got some gourmet cat food in a can, which is something he craves.

He is more than just the living-room lion who relaxes on a chair that matches his fur. Now, when he walks, he holds his head up high. He's a mouser who's earned his keep. There is almost a swagger in his step; he has come of age.
Avi stopped manipulating the keys in the computer. Merely sensing that cessation of action ripped my thoughts back to the present. Feeling the vibration of his cell-phone, he answered before it rang, as is his wont. The conversation was in English. It ended with, "I love you, honey."

I worry for Flash. As much as he can, my son wants to be with his girlfriend. I can't blame him - and it sounds serious. Not only that, but Avi will be in the army, home only on weekends - if that. My wife will be worried sick - I'll be lonely for him. But what about the tan ring-tailed cat who views him as a big brother?

When Avi's brother gets a job in a couple of years, who will be Flash's companion then? It will be just my wife and I. We both love him dearly, but it just isn't the same. When the boys aren't home, he wanders the house, lost and lonely. We're not "his big hairless cat-brothers".

Flash came of age 12½ years ago. Now, our sons are coming of age. If Flash doesn't die of loneliness for them, at least it won't be an empty nest altogether.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark Schannon said...

This is very cool, Reuven. So that hard-hearted warrior has a soft spot of furry, little cats? Me too.

05 September, 2009 07:43  
Blogger Ruvy said...

Mark,

Go check the newest post on my plan to nuke Tehran. I even have a soft spot for Persians

05 September, 2009 22:29  

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