Monday, May 23, 2011

Random act of kindness

“Okay, that’s enough,” I said as I scooped Cleo into my arms. “You’re coming with me.” I knew she’d be back, but at least Bear could spend five minutes not drowning in cat.

The second I knelt down in front of Bear to stretch out her legs and scratch her back, Cleo was there, two-stepping under Bear’s chin, chirping and mewing, trying to brush up against my arms, Bear’s face, anything that brought us all into contact with each other.

Shoving her away didn’t work. She only came back more determined each time. I deflected her with my elbows and knees when she returned to us as if fired from a slingshot from the outer edges of Bear’s blanket. Finally, I decided to remove Cleo from the entryway completely.

At the best of times Cleo is not big on being held, she doesn’t melt into your arms like Chestnut does, but stiffens up, splaying her legs out in all directions; it’s kind of like hugging a fat starfish.

As I carried her rather unceremoniously towards the stairs, clamped awkwardly to my chest with her mountainous white belly stuck out in front and her paws spread wide at the ends of her rigid legs, she twisted sideways and a searing pain exploded on the surface of my arm. I froze, rendered speechless for a moment, as a needlepoint claw that should have been cut a week ago, pierced my sweatshirt and hooked itself into the sensitive skin of my upper arm. I was stunned that something so small and simple could hurt so much.

It felt as though her toenail was barbed in five different directions. It was stuck fast in my arm and there was no way I could pull it out, moving even slightly made the pain intensify as the claw dug deeper and twisted sadistically. The best I could do was suck air noisily through my teeth and choke out a few sounds that vaguely resembled speech. “Aaargh! Cleo! Aaaargh!”

Murdoch came clattering out of his kennel to see what all the fuss was about, eyes inky black pools, always eager to help when a cat is getting in trouble, “Want me to take care of that little problem for you?”

“Murdoch, in kennel!” Morgan commanded as he appeared at the top of the stairs. All the excitement was too much for Cleo who ripped her claw from my skin and thumped to the ground, disappearing at a run. “Aaargh!” I cried again with that final flare of pain.

“In kennel Murdoch,” Morgan said again, focusing on Murdoch’s blatant disobedience now that the Cleo crisis was over. He passed me on the stairs as I climbed to the kitchen, the relief of a dull ache settling over that pinpoint of skin.

Murdoch backed in to his kennel as Morgan stood beside him. I looked over the railing in the kitchen as I rubbed at the tiny bruise that was appearing on my arm. Murdoch wouldn’t take his eyes off me. His face peered up at me from under the edge of his kennel, every bit of excitement gone from his brown eyes, replaced with something akin to concern.


“I think he wants to know if you’re okay,” Morgan said. I hung over the railing and made eye contact. “I’m okay Murds,” I said. “It’s fine.” But he didn’t move.

“No, I think you have to come down here and see him,” Morgan said. I couldn’t help but smile a little as I returned to the entryway. “Come here Murds,” I said when I reached the bottom step. He bolted from his kennel with great purpose and screeched to a halt in front of me.

I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t melt a little bit then for that egomaniac. Displays of selflessness are so rare with him I revel in them. I hugged him around the neck as he rested the top of his head just below my chin. “Good boy Murds,” I said and kissed his ear.

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