Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No Better Way To Celebrate the Fourth . . .

. . . but with a small controlled fire.

I was at a Wal-Mart on the north boundary of the city when I took a text from The Girlfriend. She was rushing The Cat to an animal ER. For the past few days, we'd been finding drops of urine dried to the kitchen linoleum. Today, she'd come home to find puddles throughout the house. I didn't even know they had emergency rooms for animals.

I arrived at the ER a couple hours later. (Conflicted, I stuck around to finish shopping. I felt bad about it, though. That's what counts.) I walked in on the vet explaining that the blockage in the Cat's stream could be owed to a number of things. They'd keep The Cat until Thursday, at least. The id reminded me that we were due in Kansas Thursday to kick off the various Fourth of July celebrations that awaited us. If we even got Cat back on Thursday, we'd be responsible for medicines and treatments. I could see The Girlfriend hanging on every word that came out the vet's mouth. The way she nodded. Understanding. It was no question that Kansas would have to wait. We were offered the chance to say goodbye to The Cat.

We were taken beyond the front desk, through the dead of late-night lobby, into the swinging doors that revealed an Emergency Room at work. A streak of blue scrub rushed past with a cat strapped to a gurney. A vet consoled a crying couple who shook over a lump mass that hid under a sheet. A monitor beeped as five attendants stood watch over a surgeon cutting away into an animal.

We left with an empty carrier. Over vindaloo and beer, I acknowledged that I was lost in this world of pet care, admitting that I didn't even know emergency animal clinics existed.

"Didn't you ever have a pet," she asked.

"When I was a kid we had a cocker spaniel puppy. Then the vet said he needed his teeth cleaned, so we had to put him down."

The Cat was retrieved Thursday. He'd shown improvement, and each vet, assistant, attendant never made fail to mention that The Cat is a complete asshole. When The Girlfriend would call to check on his status, the receptionist would punctuate each conversation with a mention of how much The Cat has hated everyone who has tried to care for it. As if we didn't know this.

It all made me start to like The Cat.

The holiday weekend was set to be several days of places to be. Since we were left with no choice but to stay in Chicago, we decided to indulge in indulgence. We were buzzed off black ale by eleven each morning. We ate in new restaurants and left our plates clean. Meals were taken in bed. Breakfast was cheddar and caramel popcorn, and we found a bagel shop in the west burbs that churns it's own cream cheese and was open at two in the morning.

Rain hampered the fourth, leaving us to grill on the fifth. Following dinner that evening, I emptied the ash and cinder that remained into the dumpster in front of our building. The Girlfriend left for her standing date with friends. I opted to shower in preparation for a return to the civilized world that following morning.

We dressed and set out for the morning commute, travel containers of dark coffee in hand. As we rounded the building, the dumpster that usually sits recessed in the front gate's opening was now blocking the sidewalk. It's contents which filled to the brim the previous night were now ash - charred to the inner walls. The black molded plastic that operates as the lid was torn out in the middle. The edges around the void were pulled black taffy, frozen in warp. Like a drinking straw set aflame.

I thought back to the ashes being dumped and the quick flash of ember I thought I glimpsed. Then to the smell of incense that seemed to pour in from outside as I lay for bed.

The Girlfriend said nothing as we stepped around the container. However, I think she was suspect. Anytime anything seemingly stupid or juvenile happens near us, it's assumed that I'm to blame.

I confessed to her via e-mail later in the morning. That I may be up to 80% responsible for the charred mess that was most likely being examined by police as I wrote. We've agreed to blame it on the neighbor's child, or the Filipino kid from up the street who I've created entirely from imagination.

I think that strange boy will be up to a lot of hi-jinks in the near future.


Moaning Myrtle said...

I hope The Cat is okay. I came home and found mine dead on the kitchen floor. It was awful.

A.v.E said...

Um . . . this blog is about me. Not you, Myrtle.