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Ok, here's a real story for you, and it's sort of a horror story but I promise you it has a good ending. Please keep in mind that those involved were young and it happened a very long time ago when people viewed animals much differently than we do today, meaning vet care was minimal, if at all and only if the animal had some intrinsic value.

It was summer and my parents were out of town, likely on one of their semi-annual trips to Reno. We were teenagers, so we didn't need a babysitter, and my older brother was left in charge, even though he was a notorious partier and leaving him in charge was like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house. I would have been a much better choice since I was a sober and very responsible teenager, but that's another story...: )

My brother comes home one night, blasted and runs over a cat in his orange VW bug. Now I don't recall this cat much before the night he met his fate. We had cats then, and my mother fed strays so he might have been one of those she fed. Well, he came in and told me that he had run over a cat and killed it, but he did not tell me the whole story until much later because he knew I would have become hysterical if I had known what he did. So I went out to check that the cat was dead and to see if I recognized it, and determing that it was dead and not one of our pets, I placed it in a box to be buried the next day by my brother.

The next morning I got up and my brother had pulled a disappearing act and I was faced with what to do with this dead cat. To this day I will swear to you that the cat was as dead as any cat I have ever seen. He was stiff as a board that morning and his eyes were glazed over in death. The ground was very hard and not being able to bury it myself, I placed the misfortunate creature in a plastic garbage bag and tied the top off so the smell would not escape and placed it out beside the trash cans. It was several days until the garbage truck would come.

A few nights later my sister and her friend were sitting out in a car smoking a doobie when they came running into the house scared out of their minds to tell me they saw the garbage bag moving. I didn't want to be bothered. You're stoned, I scoffed. But they kept after me, insisting that they had really seen it and I had to go out and check the bag. Feeling very put out by it all, I finally walked out to go look at the garbage bag with the two of them clinging to me like Stephen King's cat (what was the name of that book?)was going to come leaping out at them at any moment. I saw no movement inside the bag but just to shut them up, I untied the bag and oh my God, the smell almost gagged me. It was the smell of death boiling under the summer sun for several days. But when I heard a pitiful whisper of a mewl, I tore it the rest of the way open and found the cat was alive! Just barely, but there was no doubt it was alive! I scooped it up and carried it into the house and the first thing I did, and I don't know why now except he smelled so awful and it was the only thing I could think to do, was give him a warm bath to get the crusted blood off him. The bath seemed to have revived him even more. I put him on his feet to see if he could walk, but he would just flop over. So I set him up in a box and nursed him as best I could, thinking when my parents came home we could take him to the Vet and have the poor thing put to sleep.

My stoner brother finally comes home, goes into the bathroom where the box is and he comes out very pale and asks where the cat came from. I told him the story and he said no way, that cat was dead, it must be another cat. So then he tells me the rest of the story. Since the cat was still alive after being hit, and my brother, being the soul of compassion that he was, decided that the kindest thing to do would be to put it out of its misery and kindly hit it in the head with a shovel. More than once. I know how you're feeling at this point. Believe me, I was horrified then and horrified to think of it now.

Well, we didn't put him to sleep. At some point he began to eat and regain his strength and proved to us that he was a survivor. We named him 'Lucky' though I'm not so sure that he was, but it seemed appropriate at the time. He had a perpetual tilt to his head and walked crooked but he lived a very, very long life without any vet care that I can recall. My father was not a cat person, but this cat bonded with him and only him for whatever reason. My father was the only one who could do anything with this cat. He would sit on his lap and allow my father to clean his ears, which for some reason were always crusty, and Lucky would let him trim his nails and brush his fur. When my father was dying of cancer, this cat seldom left his side, a duty that he shared with the dog. One of the last pictures we have of my father shows Lucky curled up on the hospital bed with him.

Lucky died not long after my father, as did his dog. When this cat died I refused to bury him for several days just to make sure that he really was dead this time. Every one thought I was crazy but when we did bury him, he was buried with honor and love for he was a very special cat.

Lucky in better days at my father's feet.
 

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