On Percy

After eleven days Percy’s come home.

On the morning of the sixteenth there was a loud, fierce cat fight outside the house. A feral grey cat had moved into the neighborhood, and at times I’d see him at the edge of the woods or in the housing construction further down the street.

I didn’t see Percy at breakfast. When I got home from work that night, still no sign of Percy.

Friday became Saturday. Saturday became Sunday. No Percy.

No sign of the grey cat, either. Woody, however, returned–he, too, had been gone since Friday. And Woody looked much the worse for wear.

I often call Woody the “Jack Dempsey of cats.” Woody has always been a sociable cat–he likes to play, even with strangers. When Woody was much younger, he would mistake the wild cats for playmates, and he’d come home beaten and battered. While he never learned a lesson from this, neither did he go out and instigate anything–Woody, despite being only three, acts like a much older cat, one that would rather lie around on the porch in the sun.

Woody came back rough, far worse than I’d seen in a long time. If Woody looked like that, I could only fear the worst for Percy, a cat that had never shown any aptitude for survival skills.

The week wore on. I’d scoured the neighborhood, I’d gone into the housing developments on either side, looking for Percy. Nothing.

A pack of wild cats makes its home at the top of the hill, in the curve by the Orthodox Church. I studied them–perhaps Percy had fallen in with them? Again, nothing.

Torrential rains fell. Day after day after day.

I never lost hope, though. Percy was too beautiful, Percy was too gentle, Percy was too friendly, for anything truly bad to befall him.

I blamed myself. He’d wanted to go out that Thursday night. I’d let him out. If I hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have been run off by that grey cat.

I vowed to do terrible things to the grey cat, if only I could catch it. I’d see the grey cat, back at the edge of the woods, and an anger, not at all irrational, would fill me. And then I would feel a great sadness, because Percy was still gone.

He came home last night.

Some of his long hair had fallen out. He’d lost some weight. His tail, always so bright and poofy, drooped somewhat.

He ate. He ate some more. He was afraid to go some places, like the kitchen. I put a bowl of food for him in the bathroom.

He was needy. He wanted to get in bed with me. I didn’t mind. He probably slept well. I slept fitfully.

Percy’s come home. I wonder where he’s been for eleven days. But he’s home now, and that’s all that really matters.

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