short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
I was never one for pets. In my youth, I was sure they’d die on me, breaking my heart and later in life, I realized the creature would outlive me, becoming an orphan. Many years ago, I was doing freelance repair work and got a job to fix the bath and other maintenance in a three family rental. The people in the rental were poor, common folk. They also had a black cat, scrawny, almost a kitten. They not only neglected the cat but abused the cat, too.
Cats are not toys for children.
One of the jobs was to remove a basketball backboard and hoop from the garage – which I did, easily. At the time, I was living in a rental, a house, on what was said to be the wrong side of town. I was the only white person in the neighborhood, which didn’t bother me or seem to bother anyone else.
Directly across the street from my front door was a garage. On the front peak, someone had nailed up a wooden fruit basket. The neighborhood children played basketball. Each day, when I got home from work, they would call me over to, “Take a shot.” I would.
I took their basket down and installed the almost-new basket and backboard. They liked it very much.
The next week, as I was wrapping up my work, the cat hopped onto my front seat. I didn’t bother to look around or think. We had our great escape. I named him Tat for short – Puddy Tat. He was small, mostly black and pleased to come live with me. Each day, he would meet me at the door when I came home from work.
I came home and no Tat. I filled his bowl anyway and went about my business until a knock, a soft tapping came on the door. A young round black face looked up at me, guilty but innocent, maybe scared, as Adam might have looked up at God, not truly understanding his crime or what the punishment might be. I raised my left eyebrow.
“Better go to the tracks.” He looked behind him at the garage with the backboard and hoop. “They didn’t mean to.”
I went, to the railroad tracks less than a block to the west. There I found Tat, tied to the rail with a slip of leather, dead, in a pile of stones.