short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
Bear is Bear but Bear is not a bear. Bear is a cat. Bear, having been a feral cat, prefers being bare. Bear, no longer being feral, staying with people, is required to wear a collar. He doesn’t like his collar, not one bit. I have no idea how he does, he manages to throw his collar. Sometimes we find the collar in the yard. Mostly, we don’t.
Bear has two sister cats, Racal and Gray. He’s the big brother.
One night, as I watched out the door, I saw Bear walking two foot off the stockade fence. About a foot in front of him, as if minding his own business, Opossum waddled along, not is any kind of hurry. I wanted to think Bear was chasing Opossum off. The dance looked more like an escort.
I kept an eye out. Over the months, I caught Bear and Opossum doing the same march. Opossum concerned me. I know opossums can be mean, a cat not standing a chance in a fight, fair or otherwise.
One morning, on the far side of our property, there in the road, lie Opossum, dead. Vehicular homicide. Feeling all life has value and worthy of respect, I got my garden gloves and shovel, dug a hole and buried Opossum. I might have said something corny, too, some words directed toward the opossum god, with a curse for careless drivers.
The next morning, when Bear came to breakfast, he’d slipped his collar. I scolded Bear for being a bad Bear, which I’m sure he understood. Later that day, I found his slipped collar.
The collar sat on Opossum’s grave.