Jack and I kept watch while Jasmine slept, trading jokes with Hunter, trying tokeep his spirits up. I gave him his first sip of alcohol. Strangely enough, he likedwhiskey the best out of all the booze I had. I applauded his good taste and had a bitmyself. All of us a little tipsy, Jack started telling his kid some of the most hair-raising jokes he knew. Even I blushed a bit at some of the jokes he was telling his own son! Be-ing a preteen boy though, Hunter was in stitches the entire time. When everythingcalmed down a bit, Hunter asked “What was my father like on the streets? Tell me thefunniest story you know about him.”I look at Jack, he looks a bit apprehensive, but gives me a thumbs up. Thiscracks me up, since just an hour ago he was telling this kid the one about the guy andthe sheep! “Ok, so we all know your dad was a heroin addict, right?” they nod. “Well,one time your old man found a kitten in a box somewhere, just a little stray. Somehow,even though he didn’t even know where he was half the time, he managed to keep thedamn thing alive!” Hunter chuckled at that. “ So, a year later the thing is a full-grown cat.Not too big mind you, but not the starving thing it was when he found it. Some time, Idon’t know when, he trained the thing to sit on his head! He would wear a beanie andthe cat would sink its claws in, anchoring itself on there while he walked down the streetwith a cup in his hands, asking for donations for ‘Mister Whiskers, Lord of the Universe’.He was dead serious too. Built a little shrine for the thing and became the pope of the“Church of Whiskerism”. I never had a bigger laugh in my life!” Both Hunter and Jackwere in tears at this point they were laughing so hard.“What happened to the cat?” Hunter asked, seeming a bit glassy-eyed“That’s the thing. He just disappeared one day. I figure he was killed.” Then Isaid in a somber tone. “Your old man insisted that Ol’ Whiskers ascended to the heav-ens in preparation for the apocalypse.”Jack butted in at this point. “And I was right! Do you see cats being affected bythis virus? Hell no. There are so many around this damn city now you can’t walk 5 feetwithout tripping over one.” It was true. There were so many feral cats around this citythese days that cat meat is the most common form of meat we have. One guy evenwrote a cat cook book! Some resisted at first, but a man’s gotta eat and cat tastesGOOD!“May the lurrd whishkersh blesh ush.” Jack and I traded a look. Second stage,slurring words, eyes glazing over. He doesn’t have much time. We woke up Jasmine,she cried a bit when we explained what was happening, but put on a brave face for herbrother. When we all gathered around Hunter, even in his befuddled state, knew whatwas going on. A few hours later, the raving started.