Odiferous Bastage

The year is 1989.

I was a young man, just out of high school, I lived in the Plum Street House. It had aluminum siding, pale green on the top and white on the bottom. In the front yard were two sixty-foot Oregon pines overlooking a gravel driveway. The porch was a tremendous slab of concrete. It had three bedrooms and one bath. It was in (what I later found out to be) the equivalent of the "Medford Ghetto". To me it seemed normal. And beautiful.

Rent was $250 split three ways with my two room-mates, Korey and Mark. My share: $83.33.

Getting home after work was a dark time, though, and I often felt a yawning chasm of coldness in my heart.

One day I opened the back door to find a dead calico cat on the back porch. In a senseless act of macabre fascination I reached down to poke the cadaver with my finger. The corpse kitty shook to life and stumbled to its feet, letting out a pitiful "Bleh!" noise.

I took the poor creature in, combed the burrs out of her fur, and nursed her back to health. She had a crooked tail (where I presume it may have been slammed in a door). She was missing claws and most of her teeth, the longest of which was a single canine that hung out over her bottom lip. Life had heaped misery on this scrawny stray, the worst of which were the mites that had eaten out her ears including her semi-circular canals. For this reason she was deaf and had not a sense of balance, often stumbling into the door frame or falling over.

She could not "meow" as other cats, but rather a long zombie-esque exclamation of "Bleh!".

I named her O.B. "Off Balance".

My roommate jokingly called her "Odiferous Bastage".

It may seem that she needed me, but it was I who needed to serve her. Taking care of this forlorn animal gave me a flickering light.

One morning I awoke to hear her piteous cries just outside my window. I whipped on my bathrobe and saw through the window that two dogs had her pinned in the alleyway. I grabbed my baseball bat and flew out the screen door and leaped over the back fence. I chased after the mutts, yelling obscenities and causing at least one woman to get in her car and lock the doors. When I returned I found O.B. mashed into the rain-soaked ground, unable to even stand. I took her in and tended to her hurts.

A few days later, while we were watching a movie, I had her in my lap curled up on a towel and sleeping peacefully, gently combing out her mangy hair. Her purring was broken and gravelly. As the end credits rolled I noticed that she had stopped purring. She had passed away.

I buried her out in the back yard.

O.B. was a cat-angel who filled some divine purpose to humanize my soul. She made me softer inside.



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