Another drippy fall day in Eugene for the guy who writes scifi short stories. I pull my coat tight around my shoulders. Mason – my indoor cat – escaped into the neighborhood last night. Misty fog fills the neighborhood with mystery and danger. My kitty isn’t up for the cold, harsh realities of a post-election day America where school board campaigns run with the delirious intensity of the ’92 Clinton / Bush crusade. Innocent animals don’t thrive under the rabid, tribal violence just as grass does not grow where elephants fight.
“Mason? Mason! Here kittykittykittykitty!”
RoseMarie discreetly disposes of an empty Seagrams 7 bottle – waifish in her ratty, pink housecoat. “Your cat go missing?”
“It’s Mason, the black and white.”
Heavy, molasses-colored glass thuds into the recycling bin. “I saw something black and white last night under my window. Thought it was a skunk.”
Some might say that I should be surprised or angry at RoseMarie’s naive indifference but it’s no different than the casual insouciance surrounding all of us. Compassion gets commoditized, the vulnerable become invisible. Cold comfort compounding into apathy – our new normal is a world where Schoolkids get denied lunch over an unpaid bill, newspapers run articles on ‘using the Israel-Hamas war to fuel your weight loss,’ and elderly employees rack up credit card debt just to eat.
What did I expect? In 2023, we see children slaughtered by cousins for the sins of their grandfathers. Dinner-table dysfunction draws denominations into decimation.
I just want my cat back. Small kindnesses mean everything in a world filled with large losses. My footsteps scuff the pavement for an hour. Time to return home and warm up. The guy who writes scifi short stories must carry on until updates arrive.
I returned home, dejected and despondent. Mason was waiting for me at the front door, eager for food. None the worse for wear – he just wanted to know what the outside world looked like. The guy who writes scifi short stories could now return to his task. Peace was restored to the land.