THE NIGHT OF FIVE CATS

11 Oct

pragueatnight

It was the first warm night of Spring in the streets of North Carlton. I love this time and place. Close to midnight and the faint crescent of the early waxing moon had left the sky. I’d been up doing too much coffee, too many cigarettes with someone new and interesting; talked about myself too much. Afterwards I walked home thru the gardens and into the streets north of Alexandra Pde. I could sense this vibration evocative of the supernatural and when the first cat appeared I knew what I was in for.

She came out from between the bars of a wrought-iron gate that needed new paint. Flutter-stepping: pussy-footing. She was a tabby with short hair and a flirtatious tail and she began speaking right away. They talk, cats. They don’t have words, but they articulate their moods and intentions better than we do. I sat down cross-legged and she circled about, inspecting the goods. Marking me with her cheek, her shoulder, her arse. Then she landed in my lap and purred, sticking her rear against my chest. When I left she followed me with the desperate canter of a living being driven to distraction by the urge to mate.

The second one was beautiful. Fluffy-white and graceful; cautious. Mixed memories of humans. She hesitated but was prepared to indulge me if I chose to court her. I did not choose to do so. But I paid my respects; spare gossamer strokes. How different from the outrageous trollop who’d practically tried to rape me before. This one only let me touch her back, the top of her head. The other was all-grinding, face to face. I stroked her fur the wrong way. I know how to do it well. This bouffant princess would never tolerate that.

The third one a large cat with muscular shoulders, built like a soldier. Patches, black and white. He walked like a soldier but he talked like a whining baby. He was interested in me for the five seconds it took him to realize I didn’t belong to him. Then he stared off mournfully down the street waiting for the key that would open the door. The hand that would open the fridge. I sat down with him, longer than the ones before. It was good to be in the company of a cat, just being. No need to pay attention to each other. I said some. Bits. Mostly he ignored me; the tail giving the lightly irritated signal. When I stood up he almost bolted. Chickenshit. But my cat manners are well cultivated. He stood at ease and almost saluted. As gentlemen, we bid each other adieu.

The fourth was fiery orange and leaned into the grass following me with its eyes. Male, female – I don’t know. Tiger-striped, frozen in the grass. The grasslands cat, hunting antelope. I decided to play and circled wide around it. The eyes didn’t leave me ’til they could no longer follow. And except for the head, no movement. I stood still, directly behind. Minutes passed and at the sound of I don’t-know-what, s/he scarpered.

The last one wanted to play. A tabby too, just like the first one. She wants me to chase her, to scare her. Cats like being chickenshit. She wanders into the leaves of an early blooming tree and I rustle them. She splits, stops just out of reach: N’ah N’ah! Further down the path and she shadows me along the fence. I jump into the grass halving the distance between us and she scatters to the other side. Stops next to a tree trunk, looks at me; rubbing her tail against everything. But I just walk. She crosses the path behind me, goes back to the fence-shadow routine. This goes on ’til suddenly I chase her like a wolf, no warning.

She could leap the fence and split but she’s having too much fun. She darts and sprints, escaping 50 metres up the path and waits for me to catch up.

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