Photo by Bing Han on unspash.com
By popular demand (okay, I had trouble of thinking of something else): here is another story involving a cat. Parts of the story will sound familiar but it is nonetheless true. This tai…I mean, tale, also has something to do with writing, believe it or not. Please bear with me.
In 1984 living I was living in a townhouse apartment, the back of which bordered a small woods. My unit was the sixth in a block of eighteen, nondescript from the others and generally quiet.
I was awakened early on a football Saturday morning by my sons, ages six and three, who insisted that I get up immediately. There was a scary noise, they said, outside at the back door. I came stumbling downstairs. They were right. There was an unusual noise, all right. It was the sound of an animal in panic or pain. Or both. I opened the door and found a small kitten sitting there, making a loud and repetitive cry as it looked up at me. I bent down and saw that it apparently had been dumpster diving for breakfast. A chicken bone had splintered and wedged in its mouth across its canines. I sat down on the stoop, picked the kitten up, and put it on my lap. It continued to cry but displayed no fear of me as I gently opened its mouth and carefully pried the bone off of its teeth.
The kitten, overwhelmed with gratitude, bit me and ran off. I required a series of rabies shots and was sick for several days and never saw it again. But that isn’t what happened. No. It got off of my lap, rubbed figure eights around me, and then promptly ran into my apartment when I went back inside. I gently retrieved the kitten (with the help of my sons and our very jealous beagle) and put it outside. An hour later it presented a dead mouse at the back door. A few hours later a somewhat chewed robin was left at the front door. A series of similar grisly gifts appeared at irregular but frequent intervals over the next couple of days. Fortunately, I had a friend who was looking for a nice kitten. He adopted it. The kitten grew into a cat and lived to the age of nineteen. I would once in awhile stop over to visit. When I did so the cat, upon seeing me, would disappear outside and show up a half hour or so later with tribute in the form of a mouse, chipmunk, or squirrel. It apparently never forgot me. Nor have I forgotten it.
I wondered for a long time why the kitten showed up at my particular door as opposed to someone else’s. There were any number of residences from which to choose. Why mine? I finally came up with a possible answer. About fifteen years ago I started shaving my head. I decided it was time when my hair became engaged in a follicle race to see whether each one would fall out or turn gray first. I discovered that I had a birthmark shaped like a catspaw on the back of my head. Go figure.
What does this have to do with writing? It’s simple. You are the cat. Your mouth is the story. The chicken bone is that story point that you get stuck on and just can’t get past. Find someone — a person to whom you normally go to in order to ask advice who will give you straight, no-nonsense advice in a gentle way — and ask them what to do. Don’t knock on their door early in the morning, screaming in distress. Wait for a decent hour and approach them. If they are of help to you, leave dead mice at their front door. Or, if you are otherwise inclined, mention them by name in your acknowledgements when you get published. They will tell their friends who will in turn buy your book, or at least read it. Your friends want to help you; sometimes they just need to be asked.
That’s all I got. Tell us, if you will and/or can, a cute animal story where you helped a creature in distress. Include what occurred afterward. In the alternative, please tell us a story about how going to a friend who got your story or novel unstuck and on the right track. Thank you.