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The Kitten With Sad Eyes

The Kitten With Sad Eyes

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Published by Douglas Page

Someone had tied a loop of twine around the kitten's throat, perhaps weeks ago, probably when it was new born, then left it to grow into its own noose.

Someone had tied a loop of twine around the kitten's throat, perhaps weeks ago, probably when it was new born, then left it to grow into its own noose.

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Published by: Douglas Page on Jan 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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The Kitten with Sad Eyes
 by Douglas Page
The dusty white kitten peeked around the corner of the garagedoor, leaning in from the sidewalk side, only its head visiblein the doorway. I was seated a few feet to its left, perched ona stool at the workbench cleaning an antique pipe wrench andlistening to a Padre game in the garage of our new house. We hadjust moved from the concrete maze of Redondo Beach to southwestEscondido, close to the edge of the wildlands in San Diego'sNorth County. Unfamiliar critters left strange footprints inmuddy garden soil and morning dew on the decks. At night,shrieks of barn owls and yips of coyotes disturbed the silence.It was September, 1979. Interest rates were at 10 percent. ThePadres were in 5th place, 18 games out of first place.The house had sat empty for a time during the endlessescrow process and the visiting kitten was probably unused toseeing the garage door open with a human occupant inside. Itlooked about three months old, time enough to find braverysufficient to match its curiosity. My kids must have been offsomewhere and the stillness drew an explorer to my door. Thekitten had the rough, unlicked look of an outside cat. Maybe itwas hungry or thirsty."Hello there," I said softly, looking down from my stool.The kitten was about 10 feet way. It didn't flinch or flee whenI moved. Its mouth moved slightly but I couldn't hear its tinyvoice. Probably from a litter belonging to the family next door;feral cats don't usually greet new residents. Maybe this kitten,the color of white chocolate candy, had been dispatched towelcome me.I continued cleaning the tools I'd found left behind by theprevious owners, an elderly couple named Carlson. Mr. Carlsoninformed me they were moving to a condo closer to town and he nolonger had any use for the collection. It was all mine, if Iwanted it.Of course I did. The garage contained a treasure ofmiscellaneous hardware and woodworking tools, garden implements,and drawers full of oily wrenches, clamps, neglected chisels,
 
and coffee cans and mayonnaise jars full of unsorted nails,screws, nuts, and bolts. Carlson had raised his family in thiscustom house and was sad to leave it. But, his children hadmoved on and his wife was ill. He was happy to pass it on to anew family whose three grade-school-age children could now enjoythe bike trails, creek beds, and tire swings that dangled fromancient oaks. It was a perfect house for a young family,secluded behind a wall of towering eucalyptus. Immense graniteboulders the size of tool sheds and bread trucks had been pushedand piled to make room for the sprawling boomerang house thatrested at the end of a driveway that followed a dry creek bed upthe slope. The house sat a steppe a hundred yards from thebottom of a draw that continued to rise miles away to thenortheast. When the spring rains came the creek would awaken aswhite water from above charged past on its way to flood road atthe bottom of the drive on its way to nearby Lake Hodges. Acounty park followed the other side that road a half mile ormore to the north.The kitten paused a few seconds, then popped a step downinto the garage and looked up at me with its head cockedslightly. It looked thin and tearful, yet it wasn't afraid ofme. There was something odd about its appearance.I slid off the stool slowly, knelt down and made a clickingsound with my tongue. I held my hand out. This kitten did notreact like a normal kitten, coiled and eager to pounce and play.This kitten had sad eyes.The kitten’s mouth moved again but produced only thefaintest rasp. When it came forward a step to sniff my hand Igrabbed it gently, cradling it to my chest, and slipped back onthe stool. There’s something incongruous about a sad-eyedkitten. Why wasn’t it chasing sibling tails or stalking bugs intall grass? This tiny, thin baby cat, shivering in my grasp,seemed content, maybe even anxious, to be held.I stroked its coat softly but no purr came. Then I feltsomething like a collar around its neck, but there was nothingvisible in the fur. Collars on kittens? Who bothered withanything like that? As I fluffed under its smoky fur trying tofind the collar the kitten stiffened and looked at me sharply."I'm sorry," I said.Then I found it. A twine knot. Someone had tied a loop oftwine around the kitten's throat, perhaps weeks ago, probably

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