A cat warehouse sounds like an incredibly stressful place to live. Never mind that it’s hot. Still a job is a job in this economy, right? I wonder what did send the narrator back to Texas. I like to think that it was homesickness after all and not the cats. Though it could well have been monotony.
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Texas Summers by Marisha Hicks
I lose a cat. I live in a warehouse, on the wrong side of San Francisco, full of cats. We have different priced cages, but the cat owners who want one of the nice carpeted cages pay 400 dollars a week. We’re not supposed to call them cages. I pay 1,000 dollars a month for my room that, for some reason, gets hotter than a Texas summer. I’m supposed to call it a good deal. I share a kitchen with the cats.
The cat I lose is cute and cuddly, but bigger than a cat. He has a partner with long hair who is still in the cage. I look under my bed, under the front desk, behind plants, in other cages, in the toilet. I yell the cat’s name down the street. “Ringo . . .Ringo . . . Ringo . . . Ringo . . . Ringo. . . here kitty, kitty, kitty.” His name bounces off the warehouses. I stop yelling in fear that someone out there knows him.
I have to go into the bad side of the wrong side. If the cat’s not there, I’ll be moving back to real Texas summers. I walk behind the cat warehouse and I crawl though a hole in a chain linked fence under the freeway. I’m at the mouth of a pocket of the bad side of the wrong side. But it feels like a new city. I see blankets and trash. I see piles of ragged, dirt caked clothes.
I see people standing still and buzzing at the same time. They see me and dirty faces of all ages and colors look at me, but no cat faces. I quickly slip back through the hole in the fence.
I look in every cage and every toilet of the cat warehouse. I can stay with Alison in Arizona on my way back to Texas. I look in every cage. I look behind every toilet. I check behind the desk. She has an extra bedroom. I look in every cage, in every hole, under the desk. I slowly open the dryer door with my face scrunched. I wait a few seconds and then force myself to look inside. No cat, thank God.
I look in every cage. “Ringo?” I look behind every plant. “Ringo?” I look behind every toilet. “Ringo?!” I look under the desk. My hands shake. I look in every cage. I tell myself, “You’ve looked in every cage.” My hands shake even more. I sit on the cold concrete floor.
I hear scratching on a wall. I grab a chair and peer into a hole. A hole too tall and too small for a cat. A hole that I looked in too many times today. I look in the hole and cat eyes stare back at me.
This is not how I move back to Texas.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative
, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com
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