28 April, 2003
The Creatures of Darkness are three in number. Their appetites are vast. Woe betide him who comes between them and their prey. Those who dare to open the sacred doors and convey to them the sacrament — the holy fish — the tuna — shall have their ankles stropped, and strident wails shall assail their ears until the Creatures’ appetites are appeased. So mote it be.
And rightly so.
I just flat love cats. Ours are all black. If the suckers really are bad luck, we’re toast. And I speak for both My-Wife-The-Shrink and myself when I say that we don’t care.
Fact is, being black has been mostly bad luck for the cats themselves. Even today it is hard to find a pure black cat. They were so persecuted in the middle ages because of their perceived links to the “devil” that very few survived unless they had at least some vestiges of white. That is why today nearly every black cat will have a few white hairs — usually on its breast. That was the “seal of approval” that allowed their kitty ancestors to survive and continue to breed.
But this is about the Creatures of Darkness.
Mr. Slim is our 19-year-old. He is named for an especially spicy and non-nutritious cocktail sausage, a relative of the Slim Jim®. Slim is the cat who sat on my lap for all those hours in the recliner, back in the ’80’s, while I watched MTV and guzzled whatever beverages happened to be available. He’s one of four of our cats rescued from a terrible fate by M-W-T-S while I was happily ensconced in a drug and alcohol treatment center. He’s my best friend. (I’d like to say, “best cat friend,” but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be accurate. Some bonds are just there, and that’s that.)
Slim appeared on my lap one day back around 1984. We had two black kittens at the time, and I thought nothing of it. Every time I’d sit in the chair — and that was a lot (see above) — that little black cat was back in my lap. About three days into the relationship I happened to look around the living room and realized that we now had three black kittens. We used to leave the lanai doors open so the cats could go in and out, and the little guy knew a good thing when he saw one. A lot of water and other liquids have been over the dam, under the bridge, and otherwise disposed of since then, but the Old Guy’s still happiest when he’s not too far from Dad. And — funny thing — the same thing’s true of Dad.
Along with Mr. Slim, M-W-T-S rescued three other cats: Euphorbia (Eufie), an especially fuzzy long-hair resembling the cactus-like plant of the same name, a deaf and really dumb (but sweet) blue-eyed white fellow named Casper, and a lady tuxedo cat named Miss Sissy. Eufie and Cas went to the big tuna factory in the sky some years ago. Miss Sis made it until the age of 15, and then we had to assist her tuna-ward as well. Mr. Slim was bereft. For a solid month the little black shadow — losing weight rapidly — roamed our apartment day and night, crying piteously. It was clear he was dying of grief.
There was only one thing to do, of course: get him a kitten. Soon our pride numbered four with the addition of Mr. Filbert Frbl. We went to the Humane Society to look around, and Frbie came as close to tearing down the door of a cage as a 1-pound black kitten can. He knew his people when he saw them.
After a day of hissing, Mr. Slim and Frbl were fast friends. They played together, slept together, ate together, tore up the apartment together. You’d have thought we’d installed a turbocharger in the old cat. Talk about a new lease on life! He hadn’t been that vigorous since he was two years old. I’m not sure he was as quick as he was as a young cat (he once snatched a dive-bombing mockingbird out of the air) but he was certainly as frisky.
Unfortunately, (depending on how you look at it,) in about a year the very active “kitten” weighed in at about 11 pounds and Mr. Slim was still his svelte 9. The wear and tear began to show on the old guy, and he took to spending quite a lot of time on top of tall objects that were easily defended. Frbl meant well, I’m sure, but Slim just wasn’t up to dealing with an extremely active playmate who was bigger than him. There was only one thing to do…
Ms. Ebony Ankledancer is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve ever seen. A longhair, she’s mostly black. No lightweight at about 13 pounds, she can hold her own very well with Mr. Frbl, who now weighs 16 or 17. We’re pretty sure she’s part Maine Coon Cat, because of her size and her extremely re-curved claws. Where most cats have to want to claw you, she had to learn not to. Her front feet are deadly weapons. The most striking thing about Ebony (known as e-Bunny, Bunny-honey, Bunny grrrl, and various other disgusting appellations,) is her ruff — mane, if you will. It is a warm cocoa-color, extremely long, and looks amazing against her black body and face. Her eyes are the color of champagne. She and Frb still chase each other all over the apartment at least once a day, he an active — if rather portly — young gentleman of four and she a sedate (mostly) three. Mr. Slim joins in from time to time, but seems to be savoring his second retirement. And so it goes.
The Creatures of Darkness are three in number — at the moment.
Noted later: Mr. Slim left us on 12/12/2003, age 19 years and 11 months. Good rest, Big Guy…Tall grass…Lots of bugs….