Jimmy – One Kewl Katt

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 The manner in which I became acquainted with James T. Cat, having taken place during a ‘working’ holiday in Florida …


One morning, a couple of weeks after our arrival, I opened up the back door to let in some fresh air. Out of the back yard came an enormous black cat, which then strolled up the steps, sauntered casually between my legs and walked into the kitchen. Without so much as a backwards glance, he plopped down on the floor in front of the fridge, looking like he owned the place. Jimmy had arrived. And after his arrival, he never left. I was adopted. For some reason there was never any question if I should keep him or not, or whether he would be going back to Atlanta with us at the end of the summer. After an hour in the house it was as if Jimmy had always been there. It was meant to be. However, there then occurred a decisive incident that was to bring us closer together. Literally.

Despite the fact that Jimmy is the model of calm and gentleness, there was—at first—something spooky about his size, specifically the size of his incisors. He possesses the teeth of a scaled-down saber-tooth tiger. If those wharf rats looked like undersized Scotties, then Jimmy resembled a small jaguar. I have never seen a house cat his size, before or since. My brother Jake, who also lived with us for a while until Wallace drove him completely crazy, is convinced that Jimmy is a pygmy swamp panther. Could be for all I know about cats. Anyhow, Ellen and I were somewhat careful in our socializing with Jimmy those first few days. I could somehow imagine waking up in the middle of the night with Jimmy gnawing happily away at our jugulars. So in the evening we would close our bedroom door, leaving Jimmy in the kitchen.

One night, about a week after Jimmy’s arrival, I was awakened by a terrible ruckus coming from the kitchen. It sounded like a burglary in progress. Burgled of what, I asked myself. I got up, flung open the door and hit the light switch, revealing a scene I won’t soon forget. There, frozen in the pause mode, were three of the biggest fucking rats I’ve ever seen, lined up in front of Jimmy, who lay rolled up in a ball, looking like a hirsute armadillo. They had him trapped in a pocket between the fridge and the stove. It was like a scene out of this monster movie from my childhood, The Killer Shrews, where shrews the size of cows are chasing and eating everybody. The rats recovered their senses, took off across the kitchen in a flash, and disappeared through a missing windowpane in the kitchen door. Jimmy finally unrolled himself and looked up at me with the most sorrowful eyes I’ve ever seen in a cognizant organism. Those rats were going to eat him, that’s for sure. From that night on Jimmy slept by my side, and he still does. He likes to lay tucked into my armpit, with his head sticking out from under the covers. Women may come and go from my bed, but not Jimbo; he’s in for the long haul.

Oddly enough, I never did manage to paint or mend the falling-apart bungalow. That place was jinxed. Every time I’d get up on the ladder with the paint bucket, it would start to rain. In Florida! Every fucking day. Anyway, I was much too busy lying around on the beach soaking up rays—the sun was mysteriously present at those times—or drinking beer in the seemingly endless number of bars and pubs to be bothered by the distractions of work. The house was a rotten piece of junk anyway. I did, however, together with the state trooper, level my benefactor’s garage to the ground one evening. Half the neighborhood had written up a petition claiming that the garage was a local rat convention hall, which it was, and they demanded that something be done about it. The cop (whom I suspected of being the source of the petition) and I donned some heavy-duty work gloves, hooked up his four-wheel drive pickup to the garage’s main bearing post with some serious chains and hit the gas. As the roof fell and the wall folded there was an instantaneous exodus of oversized rodents; there must have been hundreds of them. It was the proverbial rats-deserting-the-sinking-ship thing. God knows where they all went. Probably into the cop’s cellar. Ellen told me afterwards that Jimmy, who was sitting on the kitchen counter watching the whole thing, flipped completely out. His eyes bulged out of his head and his fur stood on end. She said it looked like someone had plugged his tail into a toaster. He hid in the bedroom for the rest of the day. Poor dude, it’s taken him this long to get over it.

 Just like Crazy Bob saying that I’m the least vegetarian vegetarian he’s ever met, Jimmy is the least feline cat I’ve ever encountered. He’s more like a little fur-bearing gentleman with a tail. Sometimes I wonder if he’s some kind of guardian sent to keep an eye on me so I don’t get into too much trouble. If that’s true then he must be logging a lot of overtime.


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