Thursday, April 15, 2021

Kelsey by Robert Boucheron

My name is Kelsey and I live at the animal shelter. Someday, I hope to meet a thoughtful person such as yourself. Meanwhile, I groom myself and rest. Marianne wrote a description of me and clipped it to the front of my steel-barred unit. You may as well read it.
Kelsey is a sweet, placid, and adorable, a classic calico kitty with splotches of orange, white and chocolate in her fur. She loves to sit in the window and watch the world go by, or sit in your lap and purr, or sit and meditate. So much contemplation has made her wise beyond her years. She is about twelve years old, and she lived with an elderly lady who took loving care of her. Definitely an indoor cat, Kelsey is in excellent health, has had all her shots, and is spayed. She may be a little overweight from lack of exercise, but if you play with her, she will quickly shed those pounds! She loves to romp with a sensitive, gentle adult. Kelsey might not do well with rambunctious children or a household that already has a dog. And she has not lived with other cats, so it is hard to say if she would make friends. She is a furred person singular, as pretty as a picture, and eager to make your acquaintance.
I take issue with “splotches.” My coat is variegated. Marianne writes hundreds of cat bios, and they tend to repeat, so she throws in odd words. They feed us well here, that fancy scientific chow, so it’s possible I gained a pound or two. They keep us in lockdown and give us one exercise period a day, like jailbirds, so that’s another factor. But the part about children and other animals—Marianne nailed that one.
The elderly lady was carried out feet first. Her name was Ruthie or Mrs. Garrison, depending on her mood. I was resting with my eyes closed, when I heard a crash. I yawned, then strolled over to investigate. Ruthie lay crumpled on the floor. She clutched a watering can with a long skinny spout. Maybe she tried to reach the hanging spider plant and lost her balance. Maybe she tripped. The place was littered with throw rugs and carpet remnants, good for digging in your claws but not exactly magazine-style d├ęcor. I lay next to her for a while, then went back to my warm spot.
Fortunately, the home health aide checked on Ruthie once a day. She was still breathing. The aide phoned it in. The emergency guy asked her “What year is this?” and “How many fingers am I holding up?” Then they strapped her on a gurney and took her away. The apartment manager called me “poor thing” and picked up the watering can. Then she called the animal shelter and said she had an arrival. Maybe it was last week, maybe it was months ago. It’s easy to lose track of time in here.
Now that I’ve caught your attention, I’ll make an effort. First, a full-body stretch, then a poised, seated posture. Ears forward, tip of tail vibrates to show interest. You can take me out of the cage and hold me. Ruthie liked to cradle me like a baby and sing hymns. Bizarre, but I got used to it.
If you like, a staff member will escort us to the interview room. Wendell, not Marianne—today’s not her shift. It’s that room with the glass wall facing the lobby. See the rocking chair, the plush carpet, and the climbing contraption? You didn’t hear it from me, but it’s called a “feline environment.”
Easy does it as you lift me. I’m heavier than you expect. Wendell will come back in a few. Take your time. Did he just wink? Yes, you can close the door. I’m okay. Are you okay?
The toys are cute—the fuzzy ball, the string thing, the feathered birdie. The mouse is okay—it squeaks when you bite hard. After kittenhood, I haven’t been big on toys. Maybe later.
Pet me all you want. I won’t break. Yes, that feels good. When I close my eyes and purr that means keep it up. You’ve been around cats, haven’t you? I can tell.
You can call me Kelsey, but it’s not my real name. Marianne makes them up. Hundreds of names, whatever pops into her head. You can call me whatever you want, but don’t expect me to come like a dog. Massage my neck, and I’m all yours.
A little rocking chair time in your lap? Suits me fine. Oops, I didn’t mean to snag your sleeve with my claw. Sometimes it sticks out like that. I don’t say: “Now I will extend my claw and rip that sucker to shreds.” It just happens, okay? You understand about accidents.
Wendell is knocking on the glass. He can be goofy, but he’s a good kid. And he knows cats. Interview time is up, he says. How did it go?
You want to adopt me! For real? Sure, I mean, yes, I mean, that’s cool.
Did you know the animal shelter is running a special today? Two for one or half price. Technically, they don’t sell cats. It’s an adoption fee. You just want one cat. That is totally okay with me. Fill out the paperwork, and pledge to treat me humanely. Sign your name where it says “parent.” Personal check, credit or debit card—they’re all good.
You brought your own pet carrier? Super! But wait, that’s not all. They give you a free bag of cat chow. It must be some promotional deal with the pet food company.
Do I want to say goodbye to Wendell and the gang? They’re okay, but enough is enough. I’m ready to blow this joint and live with you forever. That’s a long time, right?

© Robert Boucheron

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