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LAce Posted Monday, December 5th, 2011
Surface Wounds
Miriam N. Kotzin

When Dan’s ex-wife, Lana, sold their house and moved to an apartment in Florida with their four kids, she left him with McIntyre, their longhair cat. Deedee, his youngest, carried McIntyre into Dan’s apartment herself. She cradled him, cooing baby talk while Dan went out to Lana’s car for the cat paraphernalia. “Dad says you’re allergic,” she said without looking at me. She buried her face in McIntyre’s fur.

"I wish I weren’t," I said.

When Dan came in, Deedee set McIntyre down on the green plush sofa. McIntyre dashed into the bedroom.

"I didn’t remember that he had so much stuff," Dan said, dropping most of it on the sofa, but setting the carrier on the floor.

"Mom didn’t send the litter box. She said you could manage that."

Dan winced. We’d bought a litter box and food when we knew McIntyre was going to be moving in.

They wrapped their arms around one another. I put my hand on Deedee’s shoulder.

"Your dad will look after McIntyre," I paused and added, "He’ll miss you." I left it ambiguous, murmured goodbye, and followed McIntyre into the bedroom.

I got on my hands and knees to see if I could spot him under the bed.

"He’ll come out when he’s ready," Dan said. I hadn’t heard Deedee leave.

"Before bedtime, I hope."

"He likes to sleep on the bed," Dan said.

"So do I." I tried not to sound cranky. "Do you think we can keep the bedroom cat-free?" I cleared my throat and coughed.

"I didn’t have a choice," he said. He sat on the bed.

I felt sorry for him, but we all have choices. I got up and washed my hair. When I came out of the bathroom the bedroom door was closed. I knocked.

"I’m in the living room," Dan said. He sat on the sofa, with McIntyre on his lap. He didn’t look up when I came in.

I raised my right eyebrow and said, "I see."

"What did you want me to do?" he asked. McIntyre jumped off his lap, rubbed once against my wet legs, and headed off to his food dish.

What I wanted was unreasonable, so I didn’t tell him.

"We can keep the bedroom door closed," he said. "And I’ll vacuum before we go to bed."

I smiled, but it was forced. How often would he have to vacuum so I wouldn’t feel as though I had a hairball in my throat and a cat sleeping in my chest?

We’d just finished dinner when McIntyre came into the room. He stank.

Dan picked him up and held him at arm’s length. "Diarrhea again," he said as he carried him to the kitchen sink, which was empty of dishes.

"I need your help," he said.

McIntyre wriggled as Dan lowered him towards the sink.

"If we don’t clean him off, he’ll get it on everything," Dan said.

Dan had done this before. And he hadn’t warned me. No wonder Lana didn’t want him with her.

I grabbed the dish drainer and lifted it to get it away from the sink, from McIntyre.

"I told you I needed your help," Dan snapped. "Put that back."

I set the drainer on the counter across the kitchen.

"I need help with McIntyre, not with housekeeping."

McIntyre yowled. I know how you feel, buddy, I thought.

Dan stepped back without letting go. McIntyre’s paws were in the air. He was clawing, wild.

Dan lowered McIntyre further into the sink. McIntyre’s claws scrabbled against the metal.

"Hold him," Dan said. "Hold him steady."

I reached towards his body. His forelegs flew up and grabbed at my arm. A claw hooked into my arm and I pulled back, leaving a long deep scratch.

"I told you—careful," Dan said.

I looked at my bleeding arm.

"Come on," Dan said, "this isn’t going to get easier."

I can believe that, I thought. "You have to move back so I can reach him. My arms aren’t as long as yours."

Dan stepped back without letting go. "Now," he said.

"How often does this happen?" I wasn’t sure what answer to expect.

"I said grab him!"

"I’m trying," I answered. I tried to hold McIntyre’s body, without being in reach of his claws.

McIntyre twisted first one way and then another, paws out, but I got both hands on him.

As long as Dan held him too, it was all right.

"Hold him. He’s not going to like this!" Dan let go of McIntyre and reached for the sink’s hose.

The cold water poured over my hands onto McIntyre’s torso. He yowled and twisted, paws clawing the air, frantic. But I held on and tried to keep him from scratching me again.

Dan put soap on his hand, then squirted and sudsed McIntyre’s rear. Before Dan could rinse him, McIntyre twisted free, gouged my arm again, and vaulted up and out of the sink, across the cleared drain board to freedom.

"Look what you’ve done now! I can’t count on you at all!" Dan screamed. "We’ve got to get him back up here and rinsed off."

"Or?" I said.

I heard McIntyre scratching in the kitty-litter.

"Or the whole thing will have been for nothing," Dan said.

"Useless," he hissed, looking straight at me, '"hopeless."

I rinsed and washed my scratched arm in the sink. It stung, but the scratches healed. Nothing that happened that night or in the weeks that followed left a mark that anyone can see.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Margot Miller on Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 11:18 PM
Mir, I love this...

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