Squeeks was getting old. It broke the Monkey’s heart to see it happen. His once sleek fur was matted, he waddled as he walked, and he had trouble keeping himself clean. The Monkey had lost cats before—to accidents, to misadventure, to better homes. One day they just disappeared, or you found their dead body by the side of the road, or you noticed they were living at a neighbor’s house. But old age was the worst way to lose a cat of all.
Squeeks didn’t think the Monkey would ever get it. He’d purr, stand by the door looking hopeful, follow the demented primate around the house while he meandered between rooms, idiotically picking stuff up in one place and putting it down in another. What was the sense in that?
“Just let me out of the house for a little while,” he’d meow. “That white cat from across the street gets out.” Squeeks would watch him parade through the yard and sashay right up the sidewalk like he owned the place before stopping in front of Squeeks’s window. Squeeks didn’t want much, just a little heart to heart with him.
In the kitchen he noticed the Monkey had left some butter on the counter. He was tempted but there was no way he’d make it all the way up there. Just getting on a chair took work.
At least a snooze in the sunlight still felt good while waiting for dinner.
The Monkey seemed to have forgotten about the deal they’d had. That something was to be left out at all times in case Squeeks got the munchies. Somehow feeding had become a twice a day regime, morning and night. And the Monkey had the gall to wonder why Squeeks sat and watched him for hours every afternoon, like he would a cornered mouse. As hard as Squeeks tried to lead him towards the kitchen he wouldn’t respond, the idiot never seemed to understand. Then suddenly he’d remember, rushing around the kitchen while Squeeks watched intently from right underneath the Monkey’s clumsy feet. You had to encourage him every step of the way or he might forget what he was doing. He’d never done it before but Squeeks couldn’t take the chance. A monkey was capable of anything.
He wasn’t just clueless, he was aggressively clueless.
—Babe Martin after a particularly rough county council meeting.
One spring afternoon Squeeks was sunning himself on the screened porch watching two birds on a line nearby. Only his wayward tail betrayed his interest.
One bird said to the other, “Look at that stupid cat. Don’t he know he can’t get to us?”
“He has such sincere longing in his eyes.”
They made mocking noises in his direction.
“Why don’t you come down here and say that?” Squeeks purred softly.
The two birds eyed each other. “Why not? He can’t get out,” one said to the other. They landed right outside the screen from him.
“What makes you guys so sure of yourselves?” Squeeks asked, feigning disinterest.
“Well, for starters, you’re in there and we’re out here.”
“Sure, you’re safe from me, but the white cat’s out there with you,” Squeeks smiled, looking past them.
“You’re kidding,” one replied, but their heads whipped around anyway.
“Don’t bother looking. You’re not going to see him until it’s too late,” Squeeks laughed. “I’ve seen him operate before.”
“You’re just messing with our heads,” the second bird cheeped.
“Uh huh.” Squeeks’s eyes had a tendency to drift away from the birds but every time they looked around there was nothing to be seen.
It made the first bird angry and it was about to give the cat a piece of its mind when Squeeks suddenly hissed loudly, showing one battered fang that could still bite the head off an unwary bird. Startled, the two took to flight just as a blur of white came bounding up beneath them. Another instant and it would have been too late.
The white cat watched them fly away and then glared in disgust.
Squeeks had a little life in him, yet.