I was a street urchin, and a purveyor of advanced mathematics. I spent much of my time wandering at night so as to keep the cops from waking me up in a violent manner. You could almost call me a loner, except that there was this cat that liked to follow me around. He didn’t have a name. I just referred to him as “the cat”. Everyone assumed it was somehow my cat.. but I didn’t even like the cat.. because I’m a dog guy. … You see, cats think they’re god and dogs think they’re human, and I can identify with the dog because I think I’m human too. 

The cat’s not mine.. I had seen him around town.. he always tried to tail me as if I wouldn’t notice. The first time I caught him, I only noticed him because he looked like very big rodent except with patches of fur falling out in large chunks. You can never trust city cats.. besides, this one always had a strange faraway look in his eyes. I slammed my foot on the concrete to scare it away, but it lacked the mental faculty to take flight. it just sat there licking its stomach, utterly unconcerned. BEAT IT! I said.. the cat just gives me a judgmental stare as if IT were sitting on the decision making side of a job interview. This went on for years. A silent battle. A secret war only the cat and I shared. 

He’s survived this long because he’s a skeptic… and I’m pretty sure he’s a racist too. It wasn’t until one night, i was out on the town, and I seen an animal dead in a puddle on the side of the street. Rigor mortis had already set in. But I recognized its bald spots, and I took pity. This cat that bothered me for so long was finally literally dead in the gutter. It’s tounge was sticking out.. It looked so pathetic that I felt a sense of moral obligation to give it a proper burial in a nearby dumpster. As I’m bending over to pick it up, the wind hits in just the right spot and it almost looked as if there were life in one of the remaining whiskers. So i poked the cat in the stomach… and it farted… and full of energy, it gets up and prances off. It occurred to me later that the cat had likely bought street drugs, and was out whoring around. ..a cat’s gotta eat. …but I am a man of principle. It wouldn’t be right if I left the cat in this mental state without seeing to his well being, just this once. So like any decent person, I used my spare change that I earned from panhandling to buy the cat a good meal. …because If I had given the cat my spare change, I’d have found him back in the puddle on the side of the street again, all willy nilly. Since then, I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a small amount of camaraderie between us.

One of the few traits of the cat that I was highly appreciative of was its reluctance to crap in public places. And I am a man cut from the same cloth.

I remember one day where I had spent the whole day in the sun, unable to sleep because of the crowded streets.. That was on Halloween. At night it got worse. I was dehydrated pretty bad from laying around in the sun, and from walking at night, it got worse. So I decided to go to a friend’s camp behind a high school. Being considerate to my friend, I told the cat to get lost.. It’s never appropriate to bring stray animals to another man’s home. … it looks at me as if I had stopped him on a sidewalk in a shady neighborhood, dressed up as a pirate, and asked him to guess under which of the three teacups I’ve hidden the silver coin. I try to leave, but the cat follows watchfully at my heels as if sensing that I’m going to do something it hasn’t been informed of.

Finally, I arrive at my friend’s camp, with the cat, but to my surprise, nobody is home. All I want is some water… soda.. whatever. My lips are sticking to my teeth, and I’m light headed. So I decide to wait for my friend to return. I begin to pace.. It sits on the ground while I do my thing and looks as if it’s trying to figure out a magic trick.. I tell the cat to leave. I don’t know if the cat considers my order, because now it looks as if it’s trying to figure out the theory behind complex function analysis. …five minutes later the cat falls, rolls over, and starts snoring with and open mouth. 

After what seems to be an eternity, I look around for something to drink and lo and behold, the stars have aligned! There’s an ice cold bottle of Minute Maid apple juice sitting inside his manufactured home of cardboard boxes. ..and I can tell it’s cold because of the beads of condensation around the bottle. I feel like waiting for my friend is the right thing to do, but really, this has become a survival situation. I think on it.. My friend will understand. Another five minutes, and I could possibly die. So I crack it open and I chug. …and vomit… and swear. And then I vomit some more. Because the contents of the bottle was not juice.. Had I kept my hands to myself and waited until he got back, I would have learned that it was his piss bottle.

You see, one of the few traits of my friend that I was highly appreciative of was his reluctance to piss in his own backyard. And I am a man cut from the same cloth.
More to come… 

Christopher Havens