Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Good Day

Got up this morning feeling really great because it was Saturday and all I had to do was fruit and vegetable shopping, some yardwork, and watch The Guru which Netflix sent yesterday.

John was sleeping in so I went downstairs to make us some coffee. I stood looking out the back door window drinking from the little chipped yellow cup that I always use. I scanned the garden, thanking God that the scheduled high would only be 83 degrees today. My eye stopped at a long black lump lying in the middle of the yard. The lump didn’t move. The only motion I could detect were a few flies buzzing around the lump.

At first I thought it was the neighbor cat from across the street who likes to slink along the ground and make ridiculous attempts at catching the birds in our yard (silly city cats), but something didn’t look right—the lump was too flat, and what might have been fur was wet and wet cats and “still” don’t go together.

I thought about actually going outside to get a closer look at the lump, but that would obligate me to act upon whatever I found. This would not be a problem if the lump turned out to be a piece of plastic or cloth blown into the yard by last night’s storm. But if the lump happened to be a lump of something dead, well, I don’t really do "dead." I feel that "dead" is John’s job. That’s what he gets for never flinching at all of those Discovery Channel medical shows where someone is having their eyeball sewn shut or open, or whatever it is they do with eyeballs on the Discovery Channel. I wouldn’t know because I stumble from the room with my hands over my eyes at the first sight of a sharp object approaching skin. I half-heartedly dissected my frog in high school and held my breath through the dissection of my shark in college. My skin-poking cup runneth over to this day. I know all of the arguments for making TV a more educational media outlet, but I’ll happily sit through a rerun of Andy Griffith I’ve seen 40 times before I watch skin being sliced. Obviously, someone with my delicate sensibilities was never meant to deal with the possibility of a dead something lying in the yard. I took a sip of coffee from my obligation-free perch and waited a little longer to see if the lump would move. It didn’t.

So I fixed a bowl of Grapenuts and headed to the front porch, away from the lump, to wait for John to get up. Eventually John came downstairs. I had a nice cup of coffee and a nonchalant “there seems to be a long black lump in the middle of the back yard” waiting for him. He also got a serving of “No, I thought you’d bet better suited to move something like that” when he came back inside from looking at it.

Turns out the lump was a cat after all. A stray we think, and it was indeed dead. I congratulated myself on my earlier decision not to investigate. “No signs of a fight,” John said. How nice, I thought. The cat went through all the trouble of staggering from wherever it was and up a hill just so he could die in the middle of our back yard. What an over-achiever. John thinks his dying words might have been "Must...pee...on...Spruce..."

Feeling a little guilty-- about my less than helpful attitude, not about my irritation with the cat for dying in our yard--I helped John rig the trash bag coffin—double-bagged grocery sacks surrounded by two double-ply garbage bags. I watched from inside the back door as John struggled to get the now stiff cat into the grocery sacks with a pitchfork, the cat’s paws sticking out at just the right angles to make entry into the bag impossible. “Even when they’re dead cats won’t go anywhere they don’t want to,” I thought as I finished my cup of coffee.

My guilt getting the best of me I hollered out to John, “Need help?”


“Damn,” I thought. “Okay, I’ll get my shoes,” I yelled. But by the time I got outside the cat was in all of the bags and tied up. We started thinking about dumpsters we could drop it in. In an effort to recover my valor I volunteered to put the bag in a box and find a dumpster. I drove to our church, which has a very nice one. I ran into my friends Mark and Mike who were doing yard work on the church grounds.

“Come to help?” Mark asked.

“No, a cat died in our yard and I thought I’d put it in the church dumpster.”

“Oh, well drop this pile of grass and leaves on it when you do and you can say you buried it,” and that is just what I did with my friends watching. All things considered, the cat made a pretty good end of life decision. He died in a decent yard, got a high-quality bag casket and a same-day church burial. Even though his funeral director didn’t have the best attitude, I like to believe that this cat, as all cats do, got his way in the end.


Blogger Goddard said...

I guess at least you didn't have to disect the cat???? When you get a chance - you should ask Jennie and Julie about the classroom rabbit ...

Had a GREAT time at Fryday...

Hope all is well.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous jennie said...

Wow, although this wasn't a pleasant topic for a story, you told it beautifully.

No comment on the classroom rabbit. :(

6:36 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

I'll be expecting a blog entry on the classroom rabbit Jennie.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Citizen D said...

I love this story Troy. Stories of daily life are the kind of thing that I often look for on a blog. I think it's great how you casually informed John that, on what should have been a lazy Saturday morning, there was a black lump awaiting him.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

i am crying at you and the dead cat! I bout fell out when I had a frigging RAT die in my back yard.
Got a shovel and threw that sucker in the neighbors yard! Probably her rat anyway.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

I'm glad to see others found some humor in this story. I thought maybe it was morbid that I cracked up at the idea of you trying to decide whether to "investigate" or not and then just deciding to eat your grapenuts on the front porch. I think it's because I can picture Marc and I BOTH standing there drinking our coffee trying to figure out who we could call to check out the lump. Hilarious!

10:32 AM  
Blogger sirrom said...

Troy ... My similar experience was a "brown lump". David's chocolate lab, Dutch, came to live with us after David moved to LR. One day I noticed her "sleeping" in the flower bed. Snout on crossed front legs. I was irritated that she was digging in the flower bed, but knew she was looking for a cool place. About 30 mins. later I walked by and she was in the same position. On the third pass, I finally realized something was wrong. Yep. Deader than a doorknob. I hauled her to the barn, loaded her in the front end loader and buried her beneath the twin pine trees (where Chuck's Class of '87 time capsule is buried). No big ceremony. I thought about saying something like the line from Lonesome Dove --- "...from the green grass to the packing house, from eternity to eternity ..." but opted to just remember what a fine dog she was.

9:34 AM  

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