Well, this gift didn’t keep giving quite long enough but we hope you enjoyed it and everyone has happy holidays!
“Who asked you to stick around?” Hank asked as they left.
“Nobody,” I said. “But I’m going to anyway.”
“So you can see what they do to me? Like those females?”
“They won’t do it right away,” I said. “They’ll give you your shots and probably trim your mats—they might wait till they put you out to do that though.”
“Put me out? You mean like put me to sleep? Like the long sleep?”
“No. Not kill you. Just help you go to sleep so you don’t feel any pain when they do the snip. It makes your legs not work right for a while and you walk funny, but it’ll be okay. They’re just trying to make you healthy. And really, you don’t need to make any more kittens. You could have stopped with me, as far as I’m concerned.”
“This is so unfair. I am a leader among cats, father of my race, a mighty warrior . . .”
“You’re more a deadbeat dad than anything,” I said, then remembered another part of the seasonal stories I’d been seeing on TV and the internet. “Think of me as the spirit of kittens past. La Toya’s baby is kittens present. And if you keep on doing what you do, before long there will be so many orange kittens and cats, there won’t be any more prey, and wild cats like you will be eating each other to survive. They usually eat the old feeble cats first, I hear.” I was just making that up, but somehow I needed to convince him that changing his ways, however involuntarily, was a good thing—or at least the lesser evil.
“You are awfully damn sure of yourself for a kid,” he said.
“My mother saw to it that we have a safe home with Darcy—my lady who took La Toya. I’ve had a good education. Not all of your kits are going to get that chance.”
“Thank Bast. One of you is enough.”
“Is that so? Then why didn’t you stop at one?”
“Son, my seed spreading is not a character flaw. A tom’s gotta do what a tom’s gotta do.”
“All the more reason to retire, Pop.”
“My clowder won’t respect me anymore.”
“Maybe not, but when they get trapped, you can let them know it’s not the end of the line for them. Like I’m trying to do with you.”
“Why? I thought you hated me.” He had stopped snarling now, and his ears had gone from laid back to kind of flat out to the sides of his head, sad-looking really. His voice was a little whiny, but I figured that was understandable, under the circumstances.
“No, Pop. I don’t even know you, really. But maybe when you get back to the clowder again, we can help each other out sometimes.”
I think I actually put him to sleep telling him about me and Darcy and the vampire, Renfrew, Maddog, the deer and everything. I at least shut up the lady cats, who stopped bawling at him to listen to my story. Eventually I put me to sleep too. But we awoke once, and my old man had put his nose up to mine. He was purring, finally. “You okay, Dad?” I asked him.
He ignored my question, saying, “You ever caught a fish with your paw, Junior? When this is over, come down to the dock, and I’ll show you.”
“It’s a deal,” I said.
I stayed with him till he met Dr. Ginny later that afternoon. Always the ladies’ man, he took a shine to her. “You go home and make sure your little sister’s okay, Spam,” the old man said.
When Ginny put him in her car to go to the clinic for his snip, she gave me a lift home. I was just in time to play with the boxes and the crinkled balls of wrapping paper with my brothers, until I finally fell asleep again in one of the boxes.
Meowy Catmess from Spam, Marigold, La Toya, and Hank as well as Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and K.B. Dundee.