this is an attempt to write sort of 'philosophical' fantasy about domestic cats in urban and suburban environment, guided in each section by meditations on unique sensory portraits cats are gifted with, balance, touch, body, taste, hearing, sight: each section then follows brief cat's experience, under starless sky Searcher comes home, in the rain House weeps, from the penthouse she escapes, snowfall in the city listening to midnight blues, morning by the river and the sea Searcher departs: each brief section woven with longer sections, Summer House, Bridge and Tunnel, Autumn Park, Winter Dreams. it is unclear if this is seven cats or one cat through seven incarnations. I wrote this to encouragement of former undergraduate roommate of my father and his wife, for my nieces Leilani, Maile, Mahina, to 'write fantasy and make billion dollars like Rowling...'? not likely to happen with anything I write but here is this...
Michael K Laidlaw About 54 000 words
#406 3524 31st NW
Calgary, Canada T2L 2A5
City of Cats
to Leilani, Maile, and Mahina
The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city.
- Italo Calvino
balance 250 words
Cats’ inner ears are primarily concerned with her exceptional balance, in similar fashion but far more easily stimulated than those organs of humans. Cats’ sense of balance is dependent on movement of tiny hairs- cilia-attached to nerve endings inside ear canals- cochlea- of three semi-circular hollow tubes shaped to each other at approximately right angles. Oriented at the base of each canal a dilation- ampulla- contains necessary density of cilia and fluid. As cats move side to side or forward and backward, or up and down, fluids in a particular canal move and stimulate cilia in that canal, nerves affected by various directions of pressure. When the cilia moves, a nerve impulse is sent through the vestibular portion of eight cranial nerves to the brain, and cats will then interpret this signal as movement in a particular direction. Two other small structures, encased in bony chambers- the utricle and saccule- are useful in perceiving tilting of the head and fall of the body. Inside these chambers a gel-like material surrounds cilia with tiny calcium carbonate crystals- otoliths- embedded. When the head or body moves these ear stones rub against the cilia and activate certain nerve impulses to the brain. Cats balance, as humans do not.
under starless sky,
Searcher comes home
in the rain,
Bridge and Tunnel
from the penthouse,
snowfall in the City,
listening to midnight blues
morning by the river and the sea,
touch 250 words
Cats’ noses are bare, unique in pattern, as individually identifiable as a human fingerprint. Cats’ noses are densely webbed with sensitive nerves, but the first tentative touch is an experimental test with a forepaw, which, if the cat is unharmed, leads to further batting with one or the other paw. Cats will determine this way that the substance investigated is not burning hot or freezing cold, then extends its nose, smells, extends its tongue, tastes- only then perhaps lapping it as sauce of a meal. Cats sense touch throughout its coat by persistence, direction, and intensity, in movement of surrounding rooted muscles, most notably around whiskers- which in width is a reliable guide to dimensions each cat can pass through- and through thin skin by toes. Other particularly vulnerable areas include the stomach, skin there about 75 times thinner than back, and skin around the eyes, nose, and lips. Cats have many fine hairs rooted back of its forelegs, useful in this way sensing status of captured prey, as struggling or freshly killed. Cats pounce and hold prey for teeth to stab. Without opposable digits, cats cannot grasp, in this way so naturally formed that they intuit truth of time as forever moment lost, before, during, after grasping. Cats feel, what humans do not.
under starless sky,
Searcher comes home 2 500 words
It is past the heart of night, the time of gray shadows, when that moment without name comes to him, as it must to all cats. This is not the end. This is not human story. It is a vague surprise no matter how long anticipated, sensed, expected- running ahead of that pursuing fear...
He is an experienced cat, not old despite streaks of white around amber eyes, quick, agile and a determined fighter. Younger hunters admire his elegant kills, his daring hunts, and his generous spirits- a few are drawn to dangerous lives of a Searcher by he alone. Elders approve of his calmness in crisis, his legendary stealth, and ignore his transgressions of Code- secretive forays into the human theatres, cinemas, and museums adjacent the Park- certain he will never be caught. And so their confidence in dispatching him on this most important Search, and soon rewarding joy in his success...
He is sad. He is very close to the Park. Through varied aura in one, two, three, ten thousand scents of this human city, he can smell wet mulch of the spring flower gardens, the mown lawns, the cool enclaves of giant trees. He can smell the river and the sea. He has a tale to tell and now it will never be heard...
He begins to suspect this Fear is the last one, the nameless one, when crossing a great red-iron bridge at sunset. Opposite his quiet tread cars flow homeward to suburbs, a few also heading into the city. Already he has been rehearsing memories for the Park, such joy in this prophesized discovery, now for certain in this city, this world, rather than worlds of hopes and dreams. That this message will never be delivered, that anything should interrupt his return, has deadened his senses to gathering thunder. Fear usually intersects lives at specific points on continuum of space-time, barriers, obstacles, and geography such as one busy street crossing another. Fear rarely troubles a true cat, a Searcher. He approaches it, sees the other side, crosses, leaves it behind...
It is when he descends from the bridge and faces immense towers of the city that he is certain of a change in quality of Fear. He feels it coming after him, echoing and intensifying, humming in suspension cables, moaning in girders, thrumming in pavements. He senses moments past, senses that it has followed him for long this night- but not all day- and so secret of his discovery remains shrouded, as by fog that swallows stars of city sky. For this he is grateful. He senses the future and sees narrowing pursuit. He will not reach the Park. Fearpursues and he cannot see the other side...
He lopes into shadows, gray and formless in fog, and muses on Death. Fear is always some variation of Fear of Death, long and trusted friend to him asSearcher, as adventurer, as traveler. Death has stalked with him, run, played even, as close friend would. Death, who has always worn the face of friend and brother, has somehow disappeared into this awaiting and pursuing implacable stranger. He has always dreamed of Death as prides of great cats swooping down, killing prey, flying away, calling out their triumphs as if seagulls on the wharves- but here and now, Death is a darkness there no light will illuminate, no smell will taste, no paws will touch, no images will suggest...
He comes to a last alleyway only one block from the Park. He can smell the river and the sea. He hears muted sounds of sleeping city, smells varied odors of the human world, sees colours of all spectrums of light and emotion paint clouded sky. Human apartment towers loom above, solid, impenetrable, even in years past that he might search for escape. Humans are humans. Home is this floor, those windows, that door, which they will replicate wherever they live, as if home is material and not emotion, and so they are too often lost. This is an old part of the city and it is many, many lifetimes since a time when towers were not here. There is no escape through shifting time, as much as any cat would in final desperation, but he now recognizes there is no escape, knows he is meant to end here, soon. There is final congruence of space-time, final place reserved for each of us to shed any physical body, final place when our spirits are freed from material claims. There is no escape through shifting to other times, other places, for the pattern yields to no cat. There is no escape. There is only hope that somehow the message carried will reach the Park...
Fear is so close he should smell it- he searches, turns and turns- and now recalls old assertions that wisecats have told him of this impersonal, inevitable, final Fear, You will never know, it is not something you learn in this world, it is a final unknown which compels us into living here and now, for though it is thought only a turn through cycles of death and life, even with your memories of previous lives you cannot know, can only hope, that another life truly awaits past this end. Here and now, a gift unanticipated, he senses memory of solo Block Cat, some times past down the alley, and wonders if his senses are now so imprecise that would call this nameless final Fear. It is times past, it is safe, and so there is perhaps this way to communicate his discovery to the wisecats- if the other will help- so he shifts time, as any true cat can, and it is early evening-
Fear is only vague presentiment now. Sunset darkens glowing orange. City towers rise gray scattered with lights- golden warmth in apartments, silvery cool in offices- in rooms on many floors, describing shape, solidity, presence in fog. Streets are loud and busy with vehicles, with humans walking by on sidewalks, blind to any future times, trapped, oblivious, in that universe of the mere visible spectrum. He allows time to flow over him, searching for that moment the other is to meet him. Rain has swept by moments past, alleyway coursed by long puddles, and of humans come varied complex scents, their shelters, their foods, oppressive over faint memory of shared world. Sadness comes as he gazes to apartment towers, senses within cats and few other pets. It is past suppertime and an aura of contented emotions drifts down. Life of an apartment cat, a housecat, had always seemed too constrained- but at this moment he wonders what he could have learned in that life. There is wisdom in all ways of our brothers’ lives, this is why we all live for many lives, so we should learn what often can only be absorbed through experience, his spirit-guide had whispered to him once, when he had contemplated that life. He had made this choice, this time, years ago. There is no escape from Fear through those memories...
He holds fast in time chosen- not being swept forward by endless, insistent flow to Death- looks down the alley for the other. One, two, three heartbeats he sees no others- then, as he desperately fights turbulence of time, he smells the other. He is lonely black cat in visible spectrum, and ember warm, many reds hungry, frustrated, angry in emotional spectrum. He lets time skip forward until mere lengths buffer shared space. The other does not react, does not notice, so he must begin-
The other leaps away, hissing, back arching to suddenness of his appearance.
Brother, have no fear, he hopes calmness of this strategy will involve the other, but in fierce tension doubt the other responds, Who are you that you should call me Brother.
At one moment he is there, the next translucent, for in resisting time gathering him forward to Fear he seems ghost as haunt any dreams. I am Searcher, I will not be able to deliver great news, delivering true emotions with thoughts and struggling not to show effort- turbulence roiling over his back. He dampens Fear, waiting in an envelope of time neither ahead to impersonal Death, nor back entirely to the other’s time. He is still, radiant, patient with unnerving calm.
This my Block, the other warns, disturbed, this my Block,
I am Searcher, I have news but will not reach home, and the final Fear is upon me-
What is it you want, the other asks, where is this home-
The Park, he senses distrust flare in the other, no, wait, please-
The other senses anguish, realizing he is here alone, not in legion of Park Cat ghosts, and this is an intriguing sense. Curiosity follows his leisurely drift to find an angle that presents solidity- a body he can strike if this strangest meeting should become fight. He sniffs naming glands, forms a pacing circle with the other, tail to nose, nose to tail. He smells Time, nothing more, nothing less. In spectrum of emotional light this stranger who claims privileges of Searcher, is gentle changing blue caught in turbulence of silver netting, an infinite sky, pale sea merging on all horizons- fraying net of prismatic threads, illusions of entire spectrum, holding back darkness of Death. No danger emanates from this Searcher, only a desperate energy as he fights inexorable waves of the sea of time...
I mean you no harm, I need your help-
Help- Park Cats never ask help from cats of the Blocks-
I am Searcher, this news concerns us both, he pauses to discover how much curiosity has the other, now, gliding within striking distance, the one I Searched for is found, he must be guided to the Park- it is too dangerous journey for he alone, I have found him...
The other pauses,
Who, who have you found, comes within touch but this ghostly form does not solidify, tries to gather his scent, to know him as real, but there is only a confusing taste of the human world that persists and declares itself even as he fades in and out, Who- What keeps you from telling them yourself, he allows the truth, Death follows me, Death waits for me, I will never reach the Park, and at this admission time gathers him forward in presence as not ghost from the past but ghost from the future, so fading, fading... I will tell them, Brother, the Block cat says...
It is past heart of the night, the time of gray shadows, when that moment without name comes to him, as it must to all cats. Death comes as prides of great cat-like beings swooping down, killing prey, flying away, calling out their triumphs as if seagulls on the wharves- but here and now, Death is a darkness there no light will illuminate, no smell will taste, no paws will touch, no images will suggest...
Fear is answered by slender hopes that the past Block cat follows his promise.
It is to be you, he wonders in these last moments.
You knew it would be no other, an Un-cat admonishes him. He is confused, slightly afraid with this cat known as an experienced Searcher. Not old despite streaks of white around amber eyes, quick, agile and determined fighter, wondering if these are tactics, if he has already engaged him, if he can summon others from the Park to rescue him. As Un-cat he senses of this kill, as if against a dog, as if he would be more real if viewed statistically, if viewed through human eyes, incorporated in their rigorous ways of intellect. One, two, three, there is no need for more, for cats shifting time, past, present, future. He himself is not a dog. He is most real alone, not loneliness but solitude in complete identification with that coming nameless moment.
I had thought humans would direct this end, he wonders.
They do, the other vibrates as if this is some great end, some great hunt, rather than he and his pride required to end solitary Searcher. Un-cat sort of behaviour, this grouping, this way of being, there are many of them but in this way are lonelier in numbers than he himself would ever be.
Humans have made us, there is misplaced pride in this claim, the Un-cat allows but he can only recognize cold falseness and pity those spirits distorted in agony so constant they have forgotten it.
How is it, another, several, one then none of the Un-cats shiver, How is it you meet your death so calmly.
You will never know this peace only true cats can know, Undead as you are.
He is very close to the Park. He can smell wet mulch of spring flower gardens, growing lawns, cool enclaves of giant trees. He can smell the river and the sea. His spirit will visit that place, his body will not. He tries one last time to see the other side, the other side of this intersection, but only darkness confronts him. Fear is fear of the unknown, it is not something to know in this world... Un-cats hiss in chorus, disturbed by the ease with which he crosses that final intersection. In final defiance he snarls with the power of a hundred cats...
And then he is still.
Old Man in the cardboard box hears final sounds and sees un-cats- clouds of spirit rarely seen by humans- floating away from stiffening body of a gray cat. He scrambles to his feet, terrified, and hammers against warning stripes on the backdoor of a restaurant kitchen, calls desperately for anyone inside. When the door is finally opened a sliver, it is a young waiter, a stranger. Sid not working tonight Old Man, he says in broken human language, a speaker with little sense of all meaning words might carry, subtle, persistent, and golden in emotional spectrum. Nothing tonight, Old Man, They- they’re back, tell Sid... Who back, the youth sniffs the trembling homeless man, who reveals no alcoholic stench, Who back, Ghost Cats, they’re real- Ghost cats, I seen them...
He reaches out, caring, confused, tentative, to help Old Man wavering on his feet- who rejects his solicitude and stumbles away down dark wet alley. Old Man is crying, moaning, mumbling about his visions, but there is nothing the young waiter can do. He is sad, but cannot even pretend to understand Old Man. He is an immigrant, unfamiliar with this language, this lonely city. He offers silent sympathy, prayer, to cold darkness. He closes the door, sighing, trapping light from further questions.
Dark van approaches down the alley. Searching.
Summer House 10 000 words
Silver does not remember his mother.
Silver is not ‘silver’ in any of the limited human senses of naming. He is not at that moment dead and thus only his past, he is living, has been, will be. In this persistence through time he is named by each new gesture, even as only a kitten, and there are all the other senses rather than simply a name. In human terms, however, there is identity as naming a constant reflection on that most obvious, lasting, way in which he lives, translated to a color ‘silver’. As his name is conveniently understood in human terms, so his story. This is not human story. He is born careful kitten for whom no barriers should be acknowledged before he measures them...
Silver is young cat, here and now. Silver is wandering, lost, alone, down gravel alley of an old neighborhood that dates so many lifetimes past that houses seem geological as well as geographic formations. For cat there are the usual receptive human senses of the world- balance, touch, taste, smell, hear, see, thought- but also significant feline perceptions as in addition to electromagnetic spectrum he senses in clarity that belies his youth, he perceives emotional spectrum of which humans have only vestigial awareness. He suffers expulsion from warm, wet, protective womb- blind but comforted by purr and cleansing tongue of his mother over his face, his legs, and his torso. Her heart pulses near his nose but he is becoming separate from her caring, protection and love, and for all his lives he will search out any dream of equivalence. His first sense is loss, of her, of his companions in her womb. His first memories are solitude, alone so no one teaches him beyond rudimentary natural ability to shift time, though he will return to this memory often in his life. He is searching for littermates, in sad curiosity motivated to find that field of his birth, never closer than spring showers, dark blue clouds, rumbling, drifting and combining, evening surf of cars on road no more than city block one way, ceaseless flow of shallow river no farther away in the other direction. Silver smells signatures of gasoline, oil, metal and rubber and shies away. Silver smells rushing water, mud, trees and grass, so follows this natural scent though he has never known it before, not now, not ever. He is walking on gravel of small, river-smooth stone polyhedrons, some embedded in mud, some cast by cars to one or the other side alley fence. He avoids long, narrow, shallow puddles of brown water prickling in spitting impact...
He calls. He pauses to hear response but there is none.
He calls. He is alone.
Silver is old cat, here and now. Silver is unafraid. Silver accepts the woman’s hand holding him down, her sad murmuring, his gentle professional tones, then feels the needle prick though his back, feels it deeper as pain in this moment overwhelms the ache of his shattered hip- he feels, he feels, then he feels no more...
Silver is young cat, here and now. As any cat will- even a mere lost kitten- Silver senses the warmth of lives within houses from beyond alley fences, radiation that requires no sunlight, no moonlight, nothing reflected, that emanates from within, characterizing the world with patterns of emotion. Emotions of conflicting waves, of combined turbulence, of placid clarity, in hues of dominant light, were light to be translated in terms even humans would understand. He senses houses, trees, gardens, and lawns, in searching for companions. He is alone, with no other cats outside. Sunset is coming in subtle distinctions of time, of indefinite duration, silent promise in translucent blue fading fading fading to black, and cats attended by humans are inside homes, some already asleep, some playing with human children, with toys and threads or even hunting mice. Silver wonders, in solitude too recent to be understood, what life is like, to have a server. He feels presentiment of melancholy, nostalgia for time not yet past, wish to make that bond, to offer patience, caring, love any cat may cultivate, to server who offers food, shelter, and warmth physical and emotional...
Silver remembers or imagines grass field- memory he later believes only stray, vivid senses of her that gave him birth- and is trying to return, original return, original loss. His memories go no further. He knows only solitude of that first Search which begins at some invisible point between one step and the next, though by this time he must have been before awake, moving, and present before that simple gesture. He will sense of that paradox of being, how can he be, just be, previous to this or that sense. For is not our consciousness always consciousness of something else, is there not value based on our being that comes before, comes when it is just this fact of being. And what he might name First Memory is actually first reflection, first moment of abstraction away from simply being one object among many other objects in material worlds, first way of becoming a subject and so understanding he is not alone- else why would his plaintive cries be so hopeful? There is only a true subject when recognizing and being recognized by thought others as subject is true gift. Silver will judge honesty, authenticity, and intention of that gift whether from another common cat, from occasional dog, transient bird, and rare human, all who implicitly honor him in worship of spiritual values inherent of feline life. Silver may actually have memories of original life on this cycle of life and death, incarnation, being, in other animals or even humans who are perhaps closest in previous lives to cats, despite their difficulty in, disbelief of, or even violent certainty that only shared objective physical world may be changed but not subjective flowing thoughts. He is only a kitten but already sympathizes with lower, confused, inarticulate and consistent failure of humans to sense truths any cat knows from birth. He will learn that rare humans are nearly self-aware of how to express thoughts, emotions, and subjectivity, in particular artworks…
He calls. He is alone.
Silver imagines a pattern he will later sense an individual, intended, discovered world, as if his paw prints were not already there, originally there, before his first spiritual ancestor was born perhaps as a weaving spider, after dies his final descendant perhaps cat of pure rainbows. Silver watches a curtain of rain approaching beneath clouds darkened as sunlight captured by formation of larger water droplets, and a rent suddenly spills unbroken sunlight, light of rainbows, vague, blurred, permanent illusion same as all other rainbow as one circle is all circles. He watches suspended light refracted, though he remains uncertain ever capturing infinite details, any more than there is a thought without content and is as impossible to firmly smell, that forever escapes, though he never expects it is through shared perception with human children it comes closest to translating his modes of thought with theirs. And yet is that gap ever transcended in this world, yes, no, better not to try, only live sad awareness of human deficits, primary among these is to experience of time involves no more than slightest glance and flows one way irresistible, indefinite, and unalterable. Humans are humans…
He calls. He is alone.
Silver is an old cat, here and now. Cat knows when Death is coming. Cat drifts through memories no less real than this moment on a soft tabletop in a room at the veterinarian’s office, so completely lit, with no shadows, that whatever original color the walls seem pale as white. An antiseptic smell fills the air and not even familiar scent of the woman overcomes it. Silver smells it from the man in the white coat, whose voice is pitched low to comfort the woman but is kind even to the gray old cat Silver has become, for what he is asked to do, what he offers, is not distressing or uncommon to a professional. Silver watches him fill a syringe from a small bottle, a clear fluid whose surface tension briefly reflects shards of colored light as beauty wraps darkness so complete it can only be Death...
Silver is young cat, here and now. Silver remembers or imagines a pattern himself will later sense personally induced through this world, as if his paw prints are not already there, originally there, before his first ancestor was born perhaps as a weaving spider, after his final descendant cat of pure rainbows of light dies. Silver sees a curtain of rain drift across the sky and a rent suddenly spilling unbroken sunlight, light of rainbows, vague, blurred, permanent illusion same as all other rainbow as one circle is all circles. He had watches beautiful light refracted, ever uncertain to completely sense it any more than there is a thought without content and is impossible to firmly smell, that forever escapes, and he never expects it is perceptions of human children comes closest to translating thought modes to humans. And yet are final gaps ever transcended in this world, yes, no, better not to ask, it is enough to be sadly, personally, aware of their deficits of thought, primary among deficits is to experience of time as no more than slightest glance only flows by irresistible, indefinite, and unalterable. Humans are humans.
He calls. He is alone.
Silver drifts through time, forward, backward, wandering the alley with no intent. Silver’s body is tied to placement forever now, to fencing behind one recently renovated house, old red brick, as brick begins the next block towards the river. New window frames, newly painted, and new green asphalt leaves over roof slopes, are changes that carry residual emotional charges. Whoever has done this work, are owners and live within. Of the walls, of the fences, red brick and white pickets, there is little that is changed recently. Separate garage is newly painted, siding subtly warped, and rather than roll up two wide doors rise on a single hinge, slide horizontal into the building, an operation he sees on the arrival of a tall, distracted man within whom golden warmth conflicts with silvery reflecting particular human abstraction which promises to follow and explain most complicated ideas of what is on borders of rainbows. He does not notice the gray kitten observing him. He would not pause no matter what call received, he is only thinking thinking thinking- if he had, well he is a farm boy and would dismiss appeal to his love, would think of cat to hunt mice, rats, and gophers infesting a barn. Humans are humans.
Silver drifts through time, certain, doubtful, then both at once that he is in an appropriate space, fertile time, and patience soon rewarded in sensing adjacent future ahead. In pleasant surprise life’s pattern delivers two human boys, eight and nine, brothers both visibly darker than the man, foreheads tensed in thought in silver embrace of thoughts shared between, but it is golden warmth of closeness which names them brothers in whichever spectrum viewed. Silver emits an urgent, emotional appeal- loud not aggressive, brief not abrupt, dual not singular- for he requires dignity in possibilities of unconditional love, and he does not know which will answer, whether such privilege will become a matter of dispute, whether the brother who reacts first will be possessive, the other envious. He is cat. He can accept love from both, equally. He is unconcerned but as cat is confident here resides correct values, correct following of their human roles, will be effected in offering him food, shelter, litter, and love. Humans are humans.
He is cat.
A cat, says the elder of the brothers, Never seen this cat before,
Doesn’t look like the George’s, says the younger is pausing, crouching, extending a hesitant cupped palm,
Doesn’t look like the Grant’s either, she is too small, just a kitten,
Here kitty, come on kitty- she has no collar,
Careful, she might have rabies or something,
Here kitty, the younger ignores the warning, caresses wet forehead and gazes into amber eyes,
Come on, we have to get home for supper,
Will Mom and Dad let us keep her,
Maybe, if she follows us home- come on,
Here kitty, here kitty, wonder where she is from- must be lonely, here kitty...
He follows the two boys to stairs, back door, of that same house where the man had arrived. He recognizes their shared heritage, but his decisive impression is on meeting the woman their mother. She is as much dominant emotion, open, giving freely, and in the spectrum of emotion she is obviously their mother as Silver would have her, a human, be his. He follows the boys in, gingerly, afraid, not yet secure here.
If your father agrees, if you will feed her, clean her litter box, she says.
Father, the boys ask together with slight fear but he does not answer, he is looking at a sheaf of papers that have come out of an envelope and in his abstractions, his thinking, he is far away from here and now, and there is some doubt if he hears them-
Bill, the mother says,
A cat, her husband murmurs in question, a cat- well if you take care of her, if you boys are responsible,
Here, she says from a chopping board, eviscerating, cleaning carcass, emptying insides of a chicken, and offering moist, soft organ meat to the elder boy, give her the giblets,
What do we call her- she needs a name-
Wait, she says, we have to see if she and the dog will get along- you do not want to be forced to choose between the two, well, both are young so should easily adjust, let the dog in the stoop to find out,
Already, without examining and corrected by anatomy, this family has named him a her- minor distraction, mistaken nickname which characterizes the larger animal, the dog, as is true- He. In fact, as they will become greater friends the dog seems sometimes to follow human misapprehension rather than his own nose, stands over him as Silver looks away, does not move, and humps the air behind his upraised tail. Silver suffers this in silence. He is not so proud, rather patient, sympathetic, wonders why the humans do not mate him, for he is beautiful dog, purebred that at first the father would use as bird dog, becomesdisappointed at how he returns bodies pierced by teeth, mangled and bloody. Farm boy, his first instinct had been to put the dog to work, after that obvious failure, he finds that he can now only use him as show dog, entering that strange world of obsessive dog owners who have too much time on their hands. A woman is hired to teach him Obedience- something no cat would agree to, but discipline the dog willingly appreciates, sit, come, heel, roll over, absurd absurd absurd. This woman is younger than the mother, closer in visual spectrum to the father, blonde, pale, freckled with blue eyes as speak her vague disorientation in her life, her projects unformed, herself perhaps recognizing values she drills into client dogs. Silver is able to perceive in the briefest glance, even at his age, even at his unfamiliarity or unable recollection, that she is a woman easily under the cumulative influences of men in her life- but the father is not distracted, not interested in directing her this way or that and so assuming such role. He is strong in human terms, strong in ways of altering his physical environment, not so strong, so self involved, so self-aware of his place in time. These judgments Silver comes to even if this is through the dog- only pup- who so willingly strives to be one of his pack, to do as told, to receive caresses, to ask for some essential love from one he calls Master. Silver watches this extreme humility with no understanding at first, then recognition of that wide gulf in the way of cats and dogs and humans.
Wait, the mother says, we have to see if she and the dog will get along.
Silver is not worried, he senses how simple dominance will be easily established, how both he and the dog are young and will adjust to create some fifth part of the family, after the two parents, the two boys- the two animals as one. At this time the cat and dog will find companionship, playfulness, ability to pass long periods in shifting time, sharing sort of protectiveness of each other. Silver will defend the dog to cruel judgment of other cats who presume to assess that which they do not know, perhaps only envious of their friendship, O, well he may not be too intelligent but he is learning, he is kind, he is friendly whereas you are neither one to us both, one, two, three- O, well you do not know this respect and kindness, you will likely never learn how to be less a singular other no humans nor dogs may love, may protect, may love and feed. Silver explains this to other cats. His eyes flash messages in his glance- often then breaking off without waiting for acceptance or reply, to demonstrate how little meaning or worth of feline judgments, to emphasize how little means fellow cats’ thoughts and of course one does not bother to be open and argumentative, in this way terms of dispute are washed away as tears in the rain.
Silver is an old cat, here and now. His memories are disorienting, dizzying, dark as he watches through eyes blurred by cataracts, listens with deafness of age to the woman and the veterinarian, a heavy wash of emotions cascading from her in voice of tears. The vet is listening with patient caring as she tries again to describe what has happened, though himself as cat knows it does not matter, knows this final act of love will bring him to that intersection no cat may ever see beyond. She is caressing the cat asking forgiveness, voice trembling, and Silver wishes to give all she asks, she should not be sad, she should not be hurt, this time comes to him as it does to all cats and there is here no fault and but no escape.
We are- we are used to her running out the garage door as we back out the car, she explains,
Yes, the vet encourages her recount,
She usually leaves this way- she goes outside when we leave, she comes inside when we come home,
Yes, well with these cataracts no cat could see well enough to get out of the way,
We are- we are so used to it and- and she never- never- we are so used to it,
Yes, well this looks like a broken hip, he is an old cat, here and now,
Will she recover- will she- will she be all right,
Well, the bones are broken- shattered really- and it is probably better to simply put him to sleep.
Silver is not listening closely, human voices meaningful only in emotion carried rather than what one says to the other, but recognizes restrained tears of the woman. She agrees with the vet. She does not wish to pronounce Death, so nods instead. Silver is not afraid, not even worried this life will be his last, no- is certain further and farther experiences await his spirit. He will return, unaware of his great fortune to be once well-tended, healthy, loved cat, does not realize how rare this has been...
Silver is young cat, here and now. Silver meets the already present dog, clumsy and still growing, and his reticence contrary to the dog’s honest joy. Dogs are not best to be alone, canines of all sorts, domestic or wild, enjoy establishing pack hierarchy, and so from the first polite sniff, the first growl, the first fighting stance, they measure each other. The dog has no memory before this human family, no memory of his mother, and in puppy way refuses thoughts that he will never again see her, or his common litter. He is immediately ready to be one of Silver’s pack- as if dog can ever be cat, as if cat can ever be in a pack- so when he comes in with the elder boy his first, slobbering, joyous approach is more as to another human with no reasonable patience. Silver looks to the dog’s eyes but there is only vivid and unquestioning joy, sadness perhaps in shape of his eyes, a wet, soft tongue quickly washing Silver’s forehead, his forepaws trapping, pulling him in, and so Silver shifts time. Silver will become friends with this dog. He can sense that one day in the field as a grown-up dog, he will charge at another free dog who threatens him- rescue details shrouded in probabilities, and even if that incidence is not in their current world there is no doubt this is sincere. His tongue wraps around, splashing, heavy with saliva, and so his fur accepts this even as Silver feels rough texture of the dog’s tongue- until now, this moment, when he raises gentle paw and bats the dog’s jaw and twists out then behind the younger boy.
Looks like they get along, he laughs,
Sit boy, sit- no, back in the stoop, the man orders and the dog retreats,
What shall we call her,
Wait, we have to see if she will stay here- she might come from another family,
If she doesn’t, Dad,
You want cat and dog, both, well,
We’ll feed her, we’ll use the paper-route money,
No, no, you want a cat we can afford it- but no more animals, I want to see you two caring for her,
We will, says the elder boy, Michael will feed him and I’ll feed the dog one week then we’ll switch,
David, ask your brother before you say that,
O, sure I’ll split with him.
What will we call her...
Silver is an old cat, here and now. Memories, to cat, moments past as moments future are as real as indefinite duration of that moment present. As any cat, shifting time, he returns to those pleasurable instances past. He shifts time to the future, so knows the length of his life in the way of the breadth, knows when, knows how, he will cross that final unknowable intersection- but this does not free him from nameless fear, this fear of death, however convinced cats must have many lives. One life is all lives, he knows the sensual world permeates mortal flesh, knows even in these final moments resting under the vet’s hand this is more than he knows of spirit life. He realizes his fear cannot be allayed, avoided, and that this is truth- it is not enough spirit learns living, spirit learns dying as well. He feels the ache of his hip- broken or rather shattered- and from here and now, his spirit focuses on how he has come to that sense of finality, how it rises in his eyes as featureless brightness as if snowdrift the boys had played in, built snow forts, waged snowball wars with other kids, but this snowdrift is rising faster or his mind slower. White sparkling under an unbroken blue sky, as cold as it is, the humans have layered themselves in coats, sweaters, toques, gloves and boots. Rather than, sensibly, staying inside by the fire. Playing as the winter afternoon passes, playing in that brief, lost few hours before the sun begins to decline into blue evening. Snow outside, clear sky, puffs of hot breaths rise from the boys eight and nine as larger trails rise from the houses, from the automobiles, and he watches, trying to understand that human joy in altering the physical world- building, playing, with snow there is this possibility no other weather allows elsewhere in the world. Silver watches, desire to understanding battling with his natural sense of any cat, here and now. Silver watches the dog romping beside the boys, leaping up to the younger, paws to his shoulders, tongue lapping his face, he laughs, he pushes the dog away even now that the dog is longer than he is tall. This moment is captured by human technology, by a camera, by the father. This moment is lost. This moment will be forgotten until, years later, under distress, the mother comes across the photograph and tears of pain and loss erupt- she does not sense the future, does not know the boy as a young man will survive that sleep so near to death, that coma, so her tears are uninformed. Silver would explain this, if human and so shared way of communicating, instead can only knead her lap and give her his love.
Silver drifts through time, aware of futility of escape even as he moves, as he turns to flee. It is this way, for cats. Death prompting all recollection of times past, now there is no sense of the future. White, cold, clarity beyond usual perception in the visual spectrum against darkness so dark it can only be Death, in the emotional spectrum. He knows that, now, there is so much more Life he would experience- there is such certain unfairness that we should die, for in those final moments there is always one more gesture, even if it is only to take one more breath. He can only return to meditate on moments past, as any cat experiences when apparently sleeping, no matter how shallow and in that way easily roused to slightest danger. Any cat appears to spend about sixty-percent of its life in sleeping, but this is only human measurement, this false tendency to count all moments in counting as if exactly the same duration no matter what happens, an unreal time only in recent years having come to understand time in correct feline way. Any cat is in fact shifting time. Each breath, each heartbeat, each sound or flickering sight is best counted according to that quality of moment.
Silver is living, faint desperation in holding this place against time that would sweep him forward to that time in which the world outside his mind, out of his control, continues inexorably in that one usual direction. He knows that he should not fear Death. It is this way, for cat. It is not that animals have no sense of impending Death, it is that an animal lives in the indefinite and eternal present. Future comes too quickly, past too soon lost in replacement with the moment now, so when else does spirit live.
Silver watches the ghost of his image held in the cold glass as the sun goes down, as the world turns away from its warmth, that white blankness now blue night, now the deep gully from the comfort of the new house, the living room sofa in that other house. This is place resonates with emotions, as it was designed, built, lived in by the father of those two boys- the elder of whom is downstairs, studying, while the younger sits here, not moving underneath the cat as he reads and listens to captured music. He is not listening to the music, he does not hear the noise in each note, each instrument, as Silver does. There is therapeutic quality offered to the boy- who is now fifteen years, who is now reading, now drawing, now trying to escape flow of time, now not visibly occupied but his mind, intellect and emotions, is being carefully compartmentalized into several streams. One steam is that which drifts over the moment now, so brief, so shallow, so fast flowing that the boy Michael seems unaware of how fortunate he is to live so well. One stream is underneath this, promising escape, which he follows through the printed black webbing of marks in one of those shards of histories called novels, they are worlds in this work of art, worlds whose emotional reality are more supplied by the boy, reflected, refracted, by the book. One stream is further deeper, is darkness not even recklessly brave cat would dare investigate, for even as it refers to a time now past even before Silver had come to live with them, time before the city house, even so it traps the boy Michael in a recurrent horror, traps that child he was. Humans are humans. He does not recall this on his surface life and so see those are moments past, moments that do not determine anything here and now.
Silver watches the ghost of his image fading darker- the boy Michael gestures beside a lamp rising on glass tube and an artificial sun blossoms beside them and he can continue reading. Humans are human, humans need more light to live, to see that work of art he hides in, escapes in. Michael is reading and so living in another time, another place, truly he cannot imagine his mother’s assertion that once he refused to learn to read because his elder brother could. He reads all the time, now. He is reading what proves to be translation- humans all have so many, many languages not all understood in voice or writing, and perhaps in this way escaping as well. He is another, who lives in another country he imaginesmistakenly much like his mother’s home, as where they had lived- without Silver- this previous year, place where it never snows, place they had visited every year when Michael was child. He lives in that country in his mind such that the symbols that he knows as road is that particular road of the sort he knows, that the trees are this way, that the rivers this way, that indeed he summons images he will much later know as mistaken. Though as with any true work of art, it is not necessarily the road in his mind nor the mind of the author, nothing so specific, but rather the idea somewhere between them at middle way intangible, unreachable, that humans are pleased to call illusion. Michael is reading of a world on truly the other side of the world, so far south that seasons are reversed and this landscape is inverted, and the way of humans living there is so different- truthful, yes, but different. Michael is character who is friendly, who is befriended by several other men as they each struggle with various women- himself with this magical, lovely, child-like girl not yet woman- and the betrayal that matters is not of her alone but rather with close male friend whose affair with her sunders enduring masculine friendship. Michael senses in reading, even then, that here is some conflict- that this friend whose exploits bedding women is source of pride and jest among that group, is now so denigrated when he does so with this particular woman whom is so beloved. Michael is confused. Michael pauses to sense of it, wonders how she is so different than other women, how those others may have been as meaningful to another man- and then, worse, his character beats the woman in sad anger. Silver watches the boy Michael read that passage, read again, and can sense the distress he feels at the mere thought. Michael will argue with himself What else could the man do, How else can he punish her infidelity, these are his thoughts. He no longer loves this book.
Silver watches the sunset through falling snow, purrs contentedly, and kneads his comfortable lap. He is cat. He is never so affected, as humans may be, by stories of people who do not exist, of plots that never happen. Humans are humans.
Silver is young cat, here and now. And so this is how Silver enters the family, the first family he recalls, and in his particular fortune has little if any idea of how lucky he is- dismissing the dog’s assertion that They are the best, They are kind, They never beat me, They always feed me, They let me run free in the field and let me play in the river- well these are ideas which any dog may applaud of any Master. He has never run away, his memories of previous incarnations are cursory at best and the ways in which life, here and now, is so laudable does not have great experience to measure it against. Indeed, those gifts of the mother, the father, the two boys are as often defined in negative terms- what they do not do- as those other things they do, which is no less, no more, as humans should do if they accept and care for any pets. Silver is cat. Silver knows how to hunt if necessary to feed himself. Silver knows how to hunt alone. Silver is born in minimal expectations from humans, how they must serve him, how they must care for him, he might leave or might withhold particular feline sense of love. Humans are humans. He knows instinctively that of course they are in this particular world to serve cats and when they fall away from such pattern they are refusing to follow correct behavior. He shifts time. He shifts time when comfortably fed, when warm and comfortable near a heating vent or on the soft embrace of the dog’s warm body on his side, sleeping, and this position is more than once captured on cameras by humans. Humans have limited sensory recall, so often replicate images for posterity on flat cards on which colors, shadow, definition of visual world but there is neither depth, texture, scent nor sound from those cards. Humans collect these cards, store them together in boxes or books which only after a few years begin to smell though by this time it is aging vinyl, aging adhesives or glues, yellowing photographs with blue tint- even older, some cards are only black and white and all those uncounted grays. Dogs are limited to that palette of subtly changing gray, but this limitation is as impossible to imagine as human inability to shift time...
Silver does not expect to follow that human nature of abstract thoughts- how one must imagine, enforce, a kind of separation of self, person, spirit from that physical world of which we are part- humans can do this only by lack of emotional perceptions as at least as powerful as the mere visual. Silver reads empathy and continual assertions of the worth of the humans in this family from the dog, which seems to be as much beyond reproach, so certain, and often posed as questions to dispute If and Why. Challenging this way, the dog is distressed his own perception of value is not immediately agreed by him, cat, yes a domestic cat, a housecat- can you suggest you are anything else than so, can you argue motives, well we see their greatness in each moment of our lives, in this way replicating arguments some humans use against other humans about the existence of one or the other or many gods. He is a dog, therefore less independent, less intelligent, perhaps, though there are great numbers of cats even unable to follow thoughts of a wisecat and it is unfair to characterize our brethren sentient animals as less in any ways when the most to say is They are different, They are such and such other animals, They have some sense that I lack or I one they lack, They might be wrong but then I might be wrong. Only when judging humans can any other animal, particularly cat, come to an unshakable decision, for do not their various actions threaten entire lives of our shared world, is it possible they are evil or ignorant or deluded or otherwise prompted by so large a brain yet so few and limited senses…
Silver is an old cat, here and now. Silver did not expect to follow the humans but against his will, surprising, grows some empathy for the urgent mental exercise the father finds on his papers. He often comes home late, for a silent supper, then follows his distracted thoughts to his desk and there opens a case which spills forth black weed-like symbols of thought, a sort of ensnaring web as if of a spider and he a human fly caught. Silver comes these days to sit on the rug beneath the table this human uses as a desk, listens to the occasional muttered curses, senses his entire physical body has become still, cold, not thought of any more than as a dead body- but the pencils scratch, pause, scratch again. Silver can smell that impossible scent of captured thoughts, as though such notation ever can communicate past, far way, exact and true thoughts, as though one human is all humans so others can share this as he shares other thoughts. He is a farm boy but the way in which he feeds his family, feeds himself and those physical needs which only slightly answers emotional needs, well, there is no farming, no other animals, in any way involved. Humans are humans. He is caught, wrestling, and embracing thoughts not in fear or distrust but with all his golden emotional life entwined, braided with pervasive silver emanations. None of this, of course, is visible to his wife or his boys- they know with uneducated senses that he is not to be disturbed, not to be asked for a fifth of his attention, not to expect either decisions or arguments for he is now very far away. Silver finds this hollowed presence somehow most comforting. Silver realizes how the man alternates between awareness in which intuition thoughts battle abstract thoughts- not that himself would ever say so to other humans or even to himself. His mind is trending towards wholeness of cat.
As in rare cases, the father allows his thoughts to led him towards entirely abstract, un-sensed thoughts in their furthest extension to that blurred, equivocal, constantly drifting border between material and physical, and realms of immaterial thoughts. He is honored by human society, admired, well supported because his mind can translate, play, follow such extremities of shared worlds. His mind, however, remains human and so unconscious of it then forms radical interpretations of what is considered law on human scale and law on a vanishing miniscule scale and law of an incomprehensibly large level. He has been born to understand, to further, and to help others to understand beautiful coherence. He is not cat He rarely admits this is always a sensual appreciation of aesthetic value, yes, no, better not to know- that leads him to believe one or the other offered conceptions, that fits best with data from experiments on that way of sensing. He is skeptical in the best manner of inference to best explanation, he cannot see his own dense mind in operation, as if in that way he could arrive at a shorter path, a more consistent, identical paths to each solution. He is in fact learning more from errors past than from provisional suggestions contemporary, looking in that particularly human way for any circumstance that is a failure or contradicts ideas promoted. He is annoyed, this particular evening, with recollection of discussion with one or the other of his sisters- both artists- who would claim all evidence, all his interpretations, were in fact nothing more than metaphors, ideas only from within his work and that of fellow scientists and therefore of course never identical with reality. Metaphors in an ideal system of so many interconnections, metaphors which explain now or shall eventually explain everything of their world, metaphors admitted of perhaps infinite utility, metaphors which all might agree now inviolable in construction- but finally, absolutely, nothing more than metaphors. He responds perhaps in more force, vehemence, disdain than ever when sharing welcome social interactions with fellow scientists Do you believe in UFOs then Do you believe in ghosts, well, there is nothing more to say and the phone handset is replaced heavier than needed.
As a scientist he can feel right in demolishing their claims through associating them with further and further shared ridiculousness, as a brother, well, not so proud and it is this shame he covers here and now, by tending direction of his anger to that scientific paper which he reads, rereads, tries to recapture whatever it was he meant to here sustain or promote.
Silver had listened to this end of the argument, watched the emotional turbulence, the childish resentment and requisite sarcasm, barked laughter, sneers and pompous agreements. Silver senses that this is never how he means to say, but his elder sister forever provokes him. She is five years older and so in some ways he is rendered no more than a little boy. He has great pride, eventually, in this sister who is later well regarded and widely given flattery and acclaim even from those other places he knows only, as cat, as the other side of the world. At this time she is only his elder sister, flighty, dramatic, better at languages than himself had ever been, but at the moment only a housewife who writes- and in this incorporating shared memories of a life he would rather forget. And, certainly, she suffers particular blind spots in assessing human males, she is true sometimes, she is wrong other times. He must admit that he never has the words to proffer this judgment and, after all, he is only a brother, only a man.
Silver purrs, touching one-foot slipper, and senses how deeply that part of the scientist’s life is buried. He is at that time only a scientist, a chemical physicist, whose theoretical work might never have use except in some ways associated with devices humans create, in ways un-thought, unnamed, which others might call Magic. Eventually, Silver senses, the father will accept such general idea when he must take their automobile to a computer to discover how it is ailing, then remembering that in his childhood they had no automobile, using a horse-drawn sleigh to enter town in winter. Later, Silver will recall how any reasonably dexterous, skilled, thoughtful man could diagnose and cure automobiles. He knows now these men are called Automobile Mechanics- a kind of title equivalent with the Quantum Mechanics the man knows- and yet convinced all such human physical alterations may be classified as applied Sciences.
Distracted, in this way perhaps unconsciously honest, he allows a hand to pet Silver’s back. Silver offers a purr of contentment, not now, not ever, certain offered love is communicated in this absence of words. He knows the claims of the dog, the reckless, scattered but continuous gifts of love he offers the man. It is that way, with dogs. Himself cat, well, emotions shared are calculated- in a feline intuition not numbers or thoughts as become somehow more real for humans when scratched symbols on his papers- and given in certain comforting gestures, movements, sounds. Cat will commune with a human spirit in this way, with no need for recognition, no need to discover if love has been absorbed. Silver is cat and does not attempt to climb, to leap, any station elevated from walking ground if the first ascent proves unreachable. Such physical judgments are the same in realms of all emotions- as with a killed bird or mouse given to these humans. It is taken, or rejected, or ignored, this does not matter. Humans are humans...
Silver is a young cat, here and now. Silver is stalking in the long prairie grass of the field opposite the house in the city, following the two boys, eight and nine, as they play with the dog- well, there is such play with a dog, such joy, but does this not seem a bit undignified, he wonders. In forming these memories, or in later recollection, vast territory it is almost always summer or, in the weather typical of midwinter here, when gusting warm wind comes to the city and it seems almost summer though too many melting islands of snow survive the melting and there are deep puddles on streets. Prairie grass is yellow, dry, crackling and hissing, as stems rub against neighbouring grass in the constant wind. This respite from winter will only last today, tomorrow, so this will not prompt new growth. Spring is only ever truly here when comes a heavy snowfall as a surprise, when humans are annoyed, when the next day, the next, the next again is sunny or merely raining and snow will not return until fall. Summer is a pleasurable sense, so intense, varied, complex that even with his senses wide open and alert- even as sensitive as a kitten to whom all the world is new and so wonderful that the occasional spike of pain is usually no more than a learning experience.
In this summer the boys are eight and nine, are nine and ten, are ten and eleven, are eleven and twelve- there is yet some buried, unspoken, typically human trauma that colours his perception of the world for the younger and mystified, confused, caring for his brother in the elder. Silver is a young cat, not yet reconciled to this nature of humans. Humans are humans. A pain, well, why does the boy not tell his parents about it, what holds him back, what is this disease called Paranoia. A pain, well, why does the boy not tell himself about it, does he fear himself, and does he believe in that typical human way that he has now separated from that place in space and that this will then not continue to haunt him in time. For this is the nature of human minds, of such divorce of sense, emotion and intellect. The further Michael places away his mind, the more diminished, the more his intellect is freed from that place and time and that human who once so hurt him- the more he tries to forget, the stronger his buried emotions echo throughout his life. Pain, horror, misplaced guilt, is combined with translucent human mind to a constant, so displaced in this way means greatly increased in this other way.
Silver plays with the boys and tries to summon the senseless gaiety of the dog, who, also, is of course aware of Michael’s pains- as a dog would do anything, everything, to alleviate his symptoms. But that human who once hurt his young Master is a friend of the family, a friend of the father, and no one can see the true evil under his falsity. Humans are humans. Dogs always follow humans even when troubled by animal intuition. Humans often discount even glimmering of intuitions, easily led astray though pride of the intellect, for this is yet further proof that a capacious, sharp, quick mind is no compensation for having such a limited sense of the world. Humans such as the father, here and now, are too confident that others who shed the same intellectual radiance as him are always as necessarily true. Silver, even a kitten when first meeting this human, is never under such false impression. Silver is here too immediately aware of the distorted spirit of this other human, so obvious, though of course this is because he can sense that human from multiple perspectives and is not affected by intellectual camouflage.
Silver is a young cat, here and now, and recognizes how limited the gifts he can offer the younger Michael, who is here eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve- but when that human who hurt him at seven visits, well, no humans seem to sense his false nature. That human visits, even stays in their house, even bears gifts for the boys. Michael does not himself allow his deeply buried fear or so carefully drowned memories, intuitions, affect his more usual perceptions of this human whom his father will say more than once is more intelligent than himself.
Silver sits in that human’s lap, once, and follows trail of his growth and heritage- but there is something so strange, so clear when he goes deeper into the past of this evil spirit, there is a sense that he is not a mature human as might be easily seen in visual spectrum, no, he is, was, will forever be a wounded child. Silver recognizes that he had only hurt the child Michael because he had been himself so hurt, but his mind so twisted that recollection into an intensely pleasurable experience, so tries to recreate that- but these are thoughts that would aid the boy, who, now, is only so confused in refusal to reclaim such memories, who is haunted by his own confused desires-
Silver is a young cat, here and now, but recognizes already how a human might then descend to relativism- and in this way search for escape from personal responsibility, for, though to have such thoughts is Sick, well, to act them out is Evil.
Silver leaps off this man’s lap before he allows himself to flex his claws to inflict whatever pain a mere house cat may. It is too clear this false human is a child, hurt, sick- Evil even- and only his own spirit can torture himself. He knows he is wrong, he knows he is corrupting, and no matter how far he goes to separate from what he did, in space or time, his acts will follow and stain his spirit- will he reincarnate in a thousand lifetimes as an insect, yes, no, better not to know...
Silver is woken by an unexpected shadow passing lower windows, stopping outside that of Michael, and a man raps his knuckles on the glass- voice unheard until the boy half-asleep cranks open the window, a burning red fear competing with his dominant hue of blue and silver, in emotional spectra. The man outside is a neighbor, his visit seems a surprise,
Your dad phoned, he wants you to phone him back,
Thanks Mr. Rancher- yeah I just unplugged it for some sleep,
Well, phone your dad,
English Final is on Wednesday, Michael says in a blurred sigh- then tiredness evaporates,
Wednesday, he repeats,
Wednesday- yes, today is Wednesday, I’ll take the truck, and jerky as a puppet with tangled strings he finds his clothes and dresses in a hurry. Silver watches the boy Michael with a quiet sense that this mistake indicates a deeper effacement of memory, a recollection of that childhood trauma but this will not be known for years yet.
Silver is an old cat, here and now. He is patiently, curiously, waiting for the woman to decide whether to take him to a vet. He wonders how bad his eyesight must be, to not see that wheel close enough- though his hearing is going and it was perhaps this he usually gauged closeness with. An error, then, of his hearing. She picks him up, sniffling, after some short telephone conversation with her husband, and so will take him in. Outside, now, the brilliant white of new fallen snow rises as if snowdrifts to cover him. Snowdrifts recall now not the city house but here, the estate, several years previous.
Silver is lying in the window at the south end of the Loft- actually an office where the father and mother work on their desks, where, when the house was yet unfinished, the boys had slept. Silver is waiting, shifting time as any apparently sleeping cat may, and the full force of sunlight keeps him warm parallel to the winter-cold glass. Outside, it is an unbroken blue sky and fields and fields under blinding whiteness. His eyes are nearly completely closed- to a narrow slit- and as it is midday the house is empty, the parents at work, the boys at the University. On occasion, to no identifiable stimulus, Silver leaps down into the square of light on the carpet and runs across the Loft, runs down the half-flight stairwell to the main floor, past dining room, kitchen, entry lobby, turns then to the hall leading along tall windows- past guestroom, the other stairwell, master bathroom and then to the tall windows of the bedroom, finally stopping at the farthest window of that wing. All this flight, this play, is then immediately forgotten and he sits on the window seat as still as stone-
Silver returns to the Loft window at the same pace, not long after, for that window is too soon shadowed by the main wing of the house- he is most comfortable in the sunlight never shadowed, where he relives his memories to no discernable pattern- and does, sometimes, actually sleep. But today, his meditation on whether it is now the moment to chase sunlight is interrupted, as he sees one of the family cars approach. It is the car Michael drives, now that his brother uses his own, but as the car comes down the driveway Silver sees it is not he alone, sees that car approach, hears the garage door rise automatically, hears the car come in below the floor of the Loft-
Silver is troubled and expectant- realizes this memory is neither the first nor the last time-
Silver hears the door open and shared laughter loud enough to wake draws him curious to the entry stairwell, and so he descends the half-flight to the main floor, where he watches Michael and her- truly the body of a girl, tall, so thin, with no breasts as attract most men, pale blonde, blue eyes- quickly unlayering coats, gloves, boots, which they carry with them. He follows, willing to forgive inattention of the boy now young man for he recognizes even in a human and even himself being neutered, that thoughtless focus of sexual desire. The dog, who would probably be more insistent in his ignorance, might misinterpret avoidance, worry in typical canine way that he had somehow displeased this Master, is in his insulated hut outside, possibly only now returning from the false alert of the car’s arrival and whining thrust of his nose through gaps of fence and hesitant pausing, start, dejected pause of wagging tail.
Silver follows down the stairs to the basement which opens on the hillside, though he know even this first sense that they are not going outside- they disappear into the bedroom, shedding clothes, smiling, touching each other eagerly. Silver is afraid, for somehow in joyous intermingling of desire in emotional senses, in musk sharp and penetrating of sex, in silence about the rest of the house, there is a dark current of mental imbalance that suggests the darkest stream further deeper, a darkness not even a recklessly brave cat would dare investigate, for even as it refers to a time now past even before Silver had come to live with them, a time before the city house, even so it traps the boy Michael in a recurrent horror, traps that child he was and humans are humans- he does not recall this on his surface life and so see those are moments past, moments that do not determine anything here and now-
Michael stands before her sitting on the bed, hands caressing her blonde hair and in the emotional spectrum Silver sees how he is trying to recreate moments past, moments lost, and in his human way has stripped the walls of the room, the curtains, the closet doors, in order to better characterize this place with that time-
Your cat, she says after a glance but enough to make him gaze back.
She is just a cat, says the boy now a man only in visible light,
Close the door- I want to concentrate on us, the female says.
Silver hears him sigh, and then he reaches out and closes the door.
Silver is a young cat, here and now. It is always summer in his memories, whether they are living in the city house or the Estate- whether the boys are eight and nine constantly available, always playfully wrestling with the dog or jerking the target string from his pounce, or are twenty and twenty-one, no longer living at home. It is summer to which he returns in senses. It is every summer, all summers, one summer. It is gusty, dry, warm breezes that travels to this city from distant moments he can only imagine are the end of the world. He can feel the air pressure dropping, sucking that higher pressure atmosphere- rather than, as falsely believed by humans without such delicate senses, the wind actually blowing as if breaths of gods. Sky above is unbroken blue, now marked by high, dissolving furrows of a roaring human device for flying, a noise from far away, a noise which interrupts then is disregarded so cat may meditate or sleep. Land below, hills, valleys, small forests of leafy trees are lucent green fading to gold by dark unchanging evergreens, in the undeveloped gully beside the Estate, the boys would down this way take the dog to the river, and other dogs of other Estates play unbound. Silver has lived in these beautiful places his entire life, in places where all the immediate landscape and house are infused by emotional values to the father, the mother, the boys now here becoming men.
Silver is an old cat, here and now. Humans are humans. Silver wonders at efficacy of his memories- worth of natural feline ability to shift time, when he cannot even in recall imagine how he could help the boy Michael. He feels a sort of guilt, a responsibility, though those times Michael was abused by that other human were before Silver came to the household. It has echoed through time and were it not simply trauma of the acts but rather secrecy, paranoia, conviction of his worthlessness have occurred since then- mostly when he was maturing and on the outside becoming a grown up man if on the inside remaining a wounded child. He is trying to recreate that place, that time, only through faulty intuitions in human ways. He is disturbed that he should be so attracted to this woman, who is as if that child of his unspoken memories, who is so tall as he, who has the body of a girl before pubescence. He is full of self-hate that perhaps the dog can comfort him and say He is hurt, he is hurt, he is hurt- tell me there is anything else we can offer but our love. Silver has no answers. Silver is an old cat, here and now. Silver is unafraid. Silver accepts the woman’s hand holding him down, her murmuring, his gentle tones, then feels the needle prick though his back, feels it deeper for the pain in this moment overwhelms the ache of his broken hip- he feels, he feels, then he feels no more.