9/14/05

Sleeping In

"And in further news, rescue crews say they expect to find hundreds if not thousands of bodies floating in the flooded streets of New Orleans. Damages are projected in the tens of billions..."

I sit stunned on the sofa, the television flickering grief and disaster across my morning coffee. My jaw hangs open, back hunched in resignation. On the floor by the fireplace, my cat Noah naps on a corner of the rug.

"How can you just lie there like that?" I ask, taking a hesitant sip from the mug. Still too hot to drink. "Don't you know there are people suffering right now?" He rolls over onto his back, eyes still closed.

"Widespread looting is exacerbating the already bleak situation, as police do their best to prevent armed marauders from..."

"My God!" I blurt, rippling the surface of the coffee poised at my lips. "What's the world coming to? Man...you're lucky you don't understand English, Noah."

Noah opens his eyes, rolls over and looks up at me. "Actually," he says with a sigh, "I can hear everything they're saying."

"Holy shit! You can talk?" I'm choking on my coffee.

"Sure." He yawns deeply and stretches his paws out on the hearth.

"Well, I... uh... (holy shit!) well, then, I guess, what are your thoughts on Hurricane Katrina?"

"I don't get it."

"What don't you get? How the emergency response system could have failed so tragically? Why greater aid wasn't available to these people sooner and a whole city was left to suffer?

"No, I mean I just don't really understand the whole *concept*. A hurricane... that's like a strong rainstorm, right? Like the ones we have outside the house in the springtime?"

"Kind of, yes."

"And a city... I'm assuming that's, like, a group of houses like this one?"

"In a way."

"Well, then I'm sorry for all the cats who live in those houses. I hate storms. I always go hide beneath the basement steps until it's over, and they're saying this "hurricane" has gone on for days."

"Noah, I don't think you're really grasping the full-"

"...But while I wish all those cats the best, and hope someone comes to feed them soon, there's really nothing I can do about it, and even though I don't like the thought of those poor cats under the soggy staircases, I don't think they'd want *all* cats to suffer along with them. I know I wouldn't. I think if I were going through an awful storm, I'd prefer to know that elsewhere, in other houses and "cities," other cats like me were having nice afternoon naps. So that's what I'm planning on doing - having myself a nice afternoon nap. Okay?"

"Noah, it's cool that you can talk and all, but you kind of sound like a big fat jerk."

"Look - I know I'm probably not comprehending the magnitude of this disaster. I don't get out much. I just think, maybe, once we've done all we can (I've personally been hoarding the cat treats you give me for a week now, and I plan to mail them all down South in a couple days) that it's time to rest. Not because we deserve it, not because we've 'done our share,' whatever that means... just because we have to. Maybe it's not our job to suffer alongside the misfortunate. Maybe it's presumptuous to even think that. Maybe what we're supposed to do is help as much as we can, and to sympathize with them as fellow beings, these soggy cats, but also to get on with our lives. Maybe that's what they'd want."

"I don't think they're giving too much thought to what we're doing, man."

"Me neither. That's why I said what they would want, if they were to really think about it. I had a friend, once - back when I was stray. Used to share puddles with me, taught me to catch chipmunks. Guy only had three legs."

"Really? You never told me any of this."

"I know. But this cat, he got around pretty well for only having three legs... still, though, he wasn't a hundred percent. I used to tell him, 'Hey, it's okay. That's terrible about your leg; I don't mind waiting for you. I'll slow up.'"

"Well, see, now, that's nice. You didn't used to be a jerk."

"Let me finish. You know what he said to me, when I offered him that?"

"What?"

"He said, 'No, you go on. I'll get there. You slowing up doesn't make my walking any easier, or faster.'"

"Really?"

"...And then he said, 'Tell you what. You run up ahead, as fast as you can. You catch that chipmunk. That way, when I get there, I don't have to be tired and hungry. You catch him, Noah, and share with me. Then, I might be limping, but at least I'm going somewhere."

*****

I sat silent for a few moments, mulling over what my cat had told me. After a while, I thought of some questions I'd like to ask him, but it was too late. He was already fast asleep on his back, a streak of sunlight warming the fur on his belly.

2 comments:

Katrina said...

I loved reading this. I always wish Jack could talk to me. I talk to him all the time.

marizka said...

Noah is such a cool name for a cat !