May 1, 2012
Freight Train ???? – 2012
I met Freight Train back when he was a freewheeling hobo hippie cat. We took him in, had most of his rotted teeth pulled, snipped off his ass dreads, and found he already had good house manners. He’d obviously lived with people before. But where? Had he been cast out? Lost? Was his old family massacred? Survival of the streets had not been entirely unkind: everyone on the block had their own nickname and meal plan for FT. When we met, he clocked in at 17 pounds. Picking him up was like lifting a small toddler.
By the time he finally died, yesterday afternoon, of prolonged kidney failure, he weighed less than my shoe. I returned from the first half of my book tour and realized just how small he’d gotten over the last two years of special foods and subcutaneous fluids. He’d taken up the new and unnerving habit of standing just beyond a door frame and peering into the next room, already a ghost.
Years ago, one of our other cats fell hard for Freight Train. For a half decade, FT had his own faithful boy servant, a groomer and sidekick and sleepmate. After he got sick, I wondered how many millions or billions of times this scenario had replayed itself throughout history, a younger animal befriending an older animal, only to have the elder grow sick and die. After one goes, how does the other react? (Today, the answer seems to be: waiting.)
He loved the ladies. By ladies I mean blankets, or any other soft, defenseless bedding or textile he made the object of his amorous desires. Someone had fixed him back in his old life, but it didn’t really take. His confused couplings were often amusing, until they grew unseemly. We had to be careful what fabrics we left out.
We buried him in his favorite blanket. It was both a shroud and the first member of what will hopefully be a vast harem, somewhere far away. Farewell, buddy.