Entertainingly Evil

The Rescue by Olli Crusoe

I’d wanted a pet for a while. I’d thought a lot about it, about the changes it would make in my life. There were days where all my thoughts centered on it. Would  I able to take care of it? Was I the right type of person for a pet? Did I have the right personality? Would I find the right one for me?
     My friends told me not to worry. “It’ll be fine,” they said. “They take care of themselves. You have all the time in the world to learn how to care for it.”
     It wasn’t like I had anything to do since the incident—apart from eating, napping, exercise, a social call or two a day, and sleeping. I slept a lot back then.
     I listened, and they were right. I made up my mind to take that step and changed my life, though not immediately. I couldn’t just rush it and get the next one that made small, inarticulate noises at me in some adorable manner. It took weeks to decide.
      Every weekend at the same time the shelter was full. The parade, we called it, but there was no helping it. One inspection after another. Nervous glances were exchanged. Small attempts at communication. Hands were sniffed, sometimes ears got scratched. Some days on both sides. Those were the bad days.
     When we finally met, I’d almost given up again. But there he was. The brownish fur in disarray, a little patchy around the cheeks. Tired eyes. Tired but somehow… sweet.
     They opened the door of the cage and stood aside. We approached each other, cautiously. A questioning noise, deep from within his throat. A response. A soft paw slowly touching the back of a hand. A gentle headbutt and loud purrs. And that was it.
     That same night we went home together. The paperwork was quickly done away with and all the shots were up to date anyway.
     It was an interesting first couple of days. Lots of exploring, first indoors. The bathroom, the living room, the bedroom. Not the kitchen though. Never. That’s a thing I’d learned before.
     We ate together, usually twice a day. When I say together, I mean at the same time. Not at the same place or from the same plate. Or the same stuff. That probably would’ve ended badly. Both of us had special needs, but sometimes we did share a piece of sausage. Even a tiny bit of cake, one time. Those were exceptions, though. Usually we each had our own food. One a bowl of water and kibble, the other… well, the usual stuff.
     The rest of the time we usually stayed close together in those first, grand days. At the desk, working. Watching TV and lounging around on the couch. Or rolling around on the floor, roughhousing, but never hurting each other.
     I tried giving him a name. Several names, actually, but after a while I realized he’d only come or listen when he felt like it, so I stuck to “Button.” Yes, I know. A dumb name, but I’d found out the pitch of my voice made more of a difference than what I’d actually say. It’s not like they can understand us. Or even talk. Even though it sometimes seems like the noises they make have a meaning.
     So I adapted. High pitched squeaks for playtime, a grumbling sound when I wanted to be left alone, sometimes whiny mewling to attract attention, just to see if anything was happening at all. Or a firm, annoyed tone or hiss to show my displeasure. Though that wasn’t really necessary often. Once, maybe twice.
     After maybe a week we expanded our activities beyond the walls of our home. Our home. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
     The garden was exciting: a  few trees, a bench to climb on, a table to nap on when the sun was shining, thick hedges all around, to take shelter in when it rained. Or to rough up some mice and birds in.
     After a couple of days, he started leaving the house. For half a day first. I was anxious, but he always came back in the early afternoon. His absences gradually lengthened, and after a while I realized that was how it was going to be on most days. We had breakfast together, maybe played a little or snuggled up on the couch, then he left. Sometimes he’d pop in around noon, as if to check on me, but most times he’d come back in the evening, just in time for dinner and playtime or watching TV.
     Some days he stayed in. All day. Slept. Ate. Played a little. Sometimes he’d even stay in for two days in a row. Why? Beats me. I enjoyed it though. Those were the best days.
     Once I’d grown used to his routine I started leaving the house for extended periods myself. Well, hours at a time, that is. And not every day. One thing I always made sure of: I took care to always be back at the same time. Dinnertime. Heh.
     Well, not always. There was this time I stayed away overnight, but seeing how worried my housemate (yes, that’s what I call him, silly, I know) looked, when I came back… no.
     Never again.
     The day after was weird, too. He stayed in all day, not leaving my side. I nearly flipped, but we quickly got back into our usual routine. Being alone was occasionally sad, but the welcome when we were reunited again was always glorious.
     It didn’t last long, though. Just long enough so I’d forgotten how it was to be alone. But, after a couple of months of living together, he didn’t come back in the evening. I was worried sick. “Did he find another place to be?” and “He’ll be back tomorrow. The day after, latest!” were the best thoughts I had. Darker ones included “What if he’d been hit by a car?”
     I cried my heart out. I was torn between going out to find him or staying in so I’d be there when he came back. After three days my waiting was over. Yes, you guessed it. They came to get me. It’s kinda obvious, dummy. Would I be back at the shelter if they hadn’t? Would I? No, I don’t know what happened to Button. I hope he’s in a better place, though.
     “Hey, look…” Nelly, the new intern pointed to a clowder of cats arranged in a loose half circle around the old tree stump, where the grey tabby sat upright, making almost conversational noises. “It looks like the new one’s telling stories.”
     “Yup.” Jimmy sighed. “Sometimes I think he’s telling them of the outside world. We’ve had him here before. He got taken home by someone about half a year ago. It was cat love at first sight, but it didn’t last. His new owner died in an accident at work.”

When Olli Crusoe doesn’t work at his desk job (and sometimes when he does) he tweets haiku, bite-sized German lessons and filterless nonsense at @OlliCrusoe. The rest of his time is divided into travelling and meeting internet people worldwide, playing the Tuba and posting on his blog www.ollicrusoe.net. This story was previously posted on www.ollicrusoe.net.

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