Monday, September 06, 2004

Lying Down, pt. 4

G.’s an apolitical animal, neither interested in nor much aware of the nation-state. But if he were suddenly inclined to stand on hind legs and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, he’d have no problem at all finding his heart.

It’s beneath the circle of pink skin, the plucked-chicken patch where his fur was shaved away.

At the center of the circle is the spot where G was pierced, his scabby emblem of combat. The vet deciphered the wound like a rune stone, translating the dark purple bruises as throttle and fang scrape.

The vet handed me morphine, baby aspirin, and antibiotics. She wrote up a regimen of warm compresses. And then, as G. buried his head in my armpit, she diagnosed him as “insufficiently aggressive.”

“Do you know what G. is like?” (Do I know what he’s like?) She snapped her clipboard and sighed. “No more outdoors. Clearly, he’s way too gentle a cat.”


Lying on the guest bed with a doped-up G., I press to his heart the cloth meant to coax out infection. My own heart feels suddenly lodged between my ears, making audible microbes multiplying beneath flesh. If the compress doesn’t do its work, the antibiotic will. So why are they still so noisy, these invaders? I think I can hear them marching, swarming, thrumming below skin.

Or else… plaster? Adam appears on the stairs, so I put the question to him. “Is it just me? Or do you hear something in this w—?”

I snatch G. from the bed, having suddenly glimpsed the true source of the invasion.

Bees. A double nest of bees. They’ve claimed the attic, the corner trim, the southern shingles. Although we did not welcome them, the wall by the guest bed is entirely theirs.

The bees die. G. lives. He takes the pills quietly until the day I lose my touch and permit one to melt on his tongue. G. hacks, drools, and gives me a look of reproach. But he lets me push another pill down his gullet later that afternoon.

Life stutters on. Outside, the world pulses and hums. We try to ignore it, but it spills out the kitchen radio and all over the dirty dishes.

I’ll wipe the dishes and my eyes with gloves sufficiently aggressive. Isn’t this the example we should teach? (Beware the wide world, the stranger cat, the dangers that would crawl beneath your skin.)

One pill remaining, babycat. Promise to reject the lesson that bitter makes you safer.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger New Kid on the Hallway said...

What a lovely ending to the story! Thank you for sharing this. I hope G. lives many more happy and healthy years with you. (I have a G. at home, too, although he's actually O.)

At 12:22 PM, Blogger PowerProf said...

I've waited on pins and needles for the final installment. I too have a gentle cat who hides his head in my armpit during visits to the vet (though he's C. not G.) Glad all is well. You're a wonderful storyteller.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger YelloCello said...

Thank you for your generous comments. And all best to O. and C.!


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