Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A cat murderer

“I’m not gonna be late, Mom,” she practically sang. “Not today. Not ever again. I don’t want to get kicked out of school.” And like a Disney princess, she flitted around and made our entire family smile.
    The thing is that the kid has good grades, she just has something genetic called “lateness”- where late is actually on time.
    This all happened before I got the phone call….
    After I arrived at work, Ruby called, frantic.  “Oh my gosh! It’s dying! It’s dead! It’s dead!”
    “What?  Where are you?”  I thought I could hear tires on pavement. “Are you driving?”
    “Yes, Mom! It’s dead.  Ohhh.” Her words vibrated.  “Wait - it’s,” her voice dropped low, “having a seizure.” Then she screamed like someone had stolen her boyfriend. “It peed on me. And’s dead again!”
    “What in the world is going on.  Pull over!”

    Ruby said she pulled over, and then through sobs, she told me. “I hit,” she cried, “a cat. And I didn’t know what to do, so I picked it up, put it on my lap and started driving to school again because I can’t be late anymore!  And then it died. It died.  I’m a mur-der-er.”  I could barely decipher her words through the crying.
    “Wait!  You’re late to school. You can’t get expelled.  Hurry, Ruby!”
    “Waaaaaaaaa!” she wailed, the cry only a seventeen-year-old girl can produce.
    “Fine. I’ll call the school and see what I can do,” I said.  But when I called, they wouldn’t believe me!
    “Listen, we’ve heard a lot of excuses from your daughter,” the secretary said in a monotone.  She should work at a mortuary, seriously. 
    So I called Ruby back.  “Okay…you have to bring the dead cat…into the school.”
    “Oh - heck no!”
    “Yes, Ruby!  Do you want to get expelled? They won’t believe me. They sure as heck won’t believe you.  But who will they believe? It’s the freakin’ cat that just died on you!”
    “Mom!  There are kids there.  Kids my age. I can’t just walk into the school with a dead cat.” 
    She had a point. After all, “Pet Sematary” just came out. So, in hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the best plan. But it was the only plan we had.
    “Well, it’s your only chance.  Sometimes you have to fight for what you want.”  It was a dumb thing I’d heard off some 80s sports film.
    “This…is the worst week ever.  First I got called into the principal’s office, then I became a murderer, and now I have to walk - through my high school - with the same cat that I murdered.”
    I couldn’t help it and at this point I broke out laughing.
    “Mom, a soul was LOST today!  Lost. I’m holding its dead body. In. My. Arms. And this is funny to you.  Who are you, Mom? Who!”
    She hung up and I could almost imagine her sauntering into that school, maybe colored smoke would billow around her as action music blared like she was saving Private Ryan!

    Anyway, I got a call about 25 minutes later. “I walked right into the principal’s office and the first thing she said was, ‘Is that a dead cat?’ So, I told her, yeah, it was. Then she started going on about how she believed me now and could trust my story. But she said she needed one thing from me; she needed me to stop being hysterical.  And she also doesn’t like dead things in her office.  And even though the cat died and it peed on me and this is the worst day ever, I’m not getting expelled.”
    “That’s great, Ruby.”
     Something else dawned on me.  “But…where’s the cat?”
    “Oh, it’s in my car.”
    “What the - nasty.”
    “I have to do the right thing, Mom. I have to bring it back to its family after school!”  She bawled and bawled again. “Okay,” she sniffled, “everyone is looking at me weird.  People already saw me walking with a dead cat. They don’t need to see me crying in class, too!”
    “Ruby. You’re in class right now?”
    “I’ve gotta go,” she finally whispered as if she hadn’t been keening moments before.
    I hung up the phone and thought that I don’t know how anyone lives through raising teenagers.
    Later that day animal control called and said they had removed the animal from her vehicle.  They also told her they'd discovered it was a stray and had no family.
    "How...exactly did they confirm that?"
    "They have their ways.  I'm just glad it was a stray."
    "Wouldn't that make it worse. The poor cat had no one to love it."
    "That means no one will miss it!"
    Those geniuses at animal control...they sure know what to say.
    But seriously, raising teenagers IS NOT for the faint of heart.  Buckle up, buttercup--its gonna be a long ride.

-from the fall of 2019

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