Footprints In The Snow

December 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

My buddy, the Mighty Hunter

There they were, Django’s footprints leading from the front door toward the neighbor’s house. He loves hiding under their boat, or perch majestically atop their recycling bin. He’s a smart cat, he’s lived outside most of his 10-12 years. For some reason I found his footprints unsettling. He’s been spending time indoors; the kitchen is like his Florida, he goes there in the winter. He’s a big eater, but his 17-20 pound frame wasn’t totally subsidized by us. I have a feeling he had two or three homes he fed off of.

Lately he’s been moving slower. He can still clear a six-foot fence, even with his girth. The last time I saw him snoozing in the kitchen, he looked like he’d eaten three or four canna-brownies. He was nodding, and was uninterested in me. I found that odd. He’s a macho cat, lovey-dovey in the house, but you best not pet him in the driveway. “That shit is for sissies,” his upturned nose and high tail would say as he moseyed away. “I have an image to upkeep!” But if I pulled up a chair in the yard to play harp or smoke a doobus, PLOP into my lap landed Django. Always the gentleman, his talons were retracted when he climbed aboard. I swear he knows how to read a clock. Almost every night at 1 AM, he’d be waiting at the front door to come in with me. If I were early, he’d sit outside looking for me. If I was late? I would hear about it. “Mrawrr…”

I understand why you’d go indoors, buddy. It was cold last night. I’ve been listening for your knock. (He rattles the screen door when he wants to come in.) I hope you’re curled up in front of the neighbor’s fireplace, staying warm and well-fed until the snow and ice melts. You know you’ll always have a home.

When I got up Xmas morning, my sister was upbeat, yet blue. “Christmas is starting with a bummer.”

Before I could ask if it was Django, she said, “I found Fuzzball in my horsey room, curled up dead. And we haven’t seen Django since midnight.”

“Oh man…” Fuzzball, while not my favorite cat ever, had become quite a character. My brother-in-law has always good-naturedly grumbled about the critters, especially the cats. (“At least the dog barks at the mailman, what the fuck do cats do? Knock over the Christmas tree and turn on the stove! Fucking cats…”) But he’s a big softy at heart, and when he saw Fuzzball sitting abandoned in a cardboard box marked FREE in front of a Plaid Pantry, he stuffed her under his coat and and brought her home. (“What?” “Oh nothing.”)

Fuzz was tiny, and may not have been a kitten. A year later she was the same size. I called her Scaredy Cat. It was like living on the Nostromo when she was up and about. She’d sleep atop (or inside) the kitchen cabinets, and come bursting out like a deranged alien looking for a place to hide.Something had been wrong with her fur, she was hairless on her back-half for a few months, looking like some sort of psychedelic jackrabbit. She had the prettiest blue eyes, like a Scandinavian princess. Over time, her hair grew back, and she wasn’t quite so skittish. She’d adopted my sister, riding around on her shoulder like a parrot. She, however, wasn’t as kind with her claws. I don’t need no cat-scratch-fever.

So long Fuzzball. I will miss you jump-starting my heart on a twice-daily basis, those big blue eyes suspiciously watching my every move. It took you a long time to accept us, but I’m glad you did.

And Django? You can come home any time now.

UPDATE 3:20 AM: Lord Django rolled in about 3:20 AM, and is currently sleeping off his Xmas dinners.

Django Hunter

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