Coal to Cat
It’s an odd story really, how she came about. One I feel maybe I should tell. She was tangled within the world I lived in. Yet, she was a survivor.
I lived in a place that wasn’t so special. It was above an adult shop, to be honest, and a little bit of a dive but, I didn’t care. It was close to my friends, close to my work, but more importantly, it was close to my dealer.
I spent my nights tending the bar in one of the local night spots. I had a cat whose name was Sooty and as his name might suggest, he was all black. He was my pal. He didn’t care who I was or what I did. I’d get home at 4am and he’d greet me each time; this pure black thing pouncing on me in the darkened alleyway as I let myself in. I’d have a coffee and a smoke, and maybe watch some television while he sat on my lap sharing whatever I’d brought home. Pizza or kebab; he wasn’t so fussy.
I felt bad leaving Sooty alone each evening as I went to work or saw my friends and decided to get him a companion. Three weeks old; as black as Sooty, and bright blue eyes, Coal came into our life.
The owner of the store I got her from told me he didn’t think she would live. She was the runt of the litter and when she died I could just return the body and get a refund or a replacement.
She wasn’t going to die. I wasn’t going to let her. I took her home and fed her. I kept her with me while Sooty investigated this strange thing that was in his home. She grew, she thrived, and she lived.
One night when I was off work, my dealer came around. Of course, I had a little bit of a debt and he was asking when I would pay him. We got in a slight argument about it, but I promised I was working the next night and could pay him after work. He seemed happy with that. The acquaintance that was with him, of course, did not seem happy.
I watched as Sooty climbed across the top of my cabinets and got himself stuck as always. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Maybe he was going to jump on my dealer’s friend, or maybe he was just going to sit there, I don’t know. But the acquaintance got hold of Sooty and before I knew what happened, slammed him down on the floor. Sooty ran off and my dealer and his thug left.
I found Sooty struggling to breathe. He tried to cry. He lay in my arms and I ran outside desperate to call someone to help me. I had no money. I ran along the street with Sooty in my arms asking anyone if I could borrow a coin so I could call a vet. People ignored me like I was crazy. It was just ten pence. I didn’t have it.
I ran back home wondering if I could find it lying about, but I knew deep down there wasn’t a penny in my home. There wasn’t even food. All my money went in drugs and cigarettes.
I slid down to the kitchen floor and hugged Sooty to me. I cradled him in my arms and felt as his little life slipped away. Sooty died because I couldn’t afford ten pence.
I buried him the next day.
By then, Coal was a few months old. I didn’t want to lose her too. Not like that. Not another victim of my sorry excuse for a life. I did the best thing I could for her. I gave her to the one person who would care the most.
For fifteen years she lived with him. He refused to give her back. Maybe it was the best thing. She stayed with him until two days ago, when she passed away too.