Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Five Cat Poems by Anna Sykora

Cat Velvet

Under my chin,
Cat velvet

For a generous,


Old Cats

Old cats know best
How they are blessed:

They sleep, they doze
And then they rest.


When's Dinner?

When’s dinner?
Kitty thinks she knows.
When in doubt she licks her toes,
Rolls herself into a ball
And doesn’t care to think at all.


Rich and round,
Full and fat:
The whirring, gurring purr
Of a cat.


Cat’s Prayer: Let us purr.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Note to Contributors

Note to Contributors as of September 27, 2010.

While paid submissions are closed, I am still accepting pieces that are donated. So if you have something you would like to donate to Hazard Cat, you are free to submit. It helps keep Hazard Cat going.

Also, if your piece has already been accepted and you want to see it posted sooner, you are also welcome to donate to have your poem, story or art posted sooner.


Edited to add: I don't want to put ads on Hazard Cat, so to keep the page up I'm hoping for more donations.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Cat and the Mop by William Ward

The Cat And the Mop
by William Ward

I’m almost certain
my cat sees the mop
again for the first time
each time she sees it.
I can tell by the way
she looks at it
then spring-dances away.

I wonder if she sees
everything like that—-
like she’s seeing it
for the first time.

I wonder if
she could teach me
how to do that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Art and a Poem by Marge Simon

List for Android Cat Sitter
by Marge Simon

Open back door.
Let children out.

Hum “Good Morning To You” softly.
Carry Fluffy into the dining room
with food.
Close door.
Let Pepper out.

Do not speak.
Carry Pepper into the kitchen
with food.
Close door.
Let Fluffy out.

Make ambient sounds.
Carry Fluffy into the living room
with food.
Close door.
Sing lullaby.
Carry Pepper to attic.
Carry Fluffy to basement.
Close both doors.

Open front door.
Let children in.

Marge Ballif Simon freelances as a writerpoetillustrator for genre and mainstream publications such as Strange Horizons, Flashquake, Sniplits, Vestal Review, Flash Me Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Dreams & Nightmares. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter, "Blood & Spades: Poets of the Dark Side." She is the editor of Star*Line, Digest of the SF Poetry Association. In addition to her poetry, she has published two prose collections: _Christina's World_, Sam's Dot Publications, 2008 and Like Birds in the Rain, Sam's Dot, 2007. She won the Bram Stoker for Best Poetry Collection with Charlie Jacob, Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet, Dark Regions Press, 2008. A new collection, Unearthly Delights (self illustrated in color) is forthcoming from Sam's Dot Publications, 2010. Her Website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cool Cats by Suzan L. Wiener

Cool Cats
by Suzan L. Wiener

Cats so cool,
But behind their eyes
Love burns fiercely
With no disguise.
My cat, Mitzi,
Is just that way
Roaming far
Yet she'll always stay.
Chasing a butterfly;
Running after a frog.
She roars at thunder,
But shudders at smog.
A little bit crazy,
Yet so divine.
A cat dearly loved -
A best friend of mine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Purrsonal Story I Can Kilz Boyfriend by Tricia Sutton

I CAN KILZ BOYFRIEND: more mischief from legendary Smokey the Bionic Cat
by Tricia Sutton

For Beth's first car date, she wore a white gypsy shirt, love beads, flowery jeans, and platform shoes. While she was waiting for Steve to arrive, Daddy gave her some dating advice: "Honor your fine family upbringin' and talk proper. Don’t burp or slurp, and use a fork ‘cause it’s dang near impossible to shovel food in your mouth with them two skinny sticks."

"They're called chopsticks, Daddy," she said, peering through the curtains for Steve's arrival.

Steve pulled up in a brand new 1976 El Camino the color of an acorn. Beth ducked back and ran to her bedroom, not to appear eager. I watched from the front door peephole as Steve emerged wearing an outfit that overcompensated for the car's dull color. He wore a bright print polyester button-down shirt tucked neatly into white bellbottoms looking every bit like a multi-flavored sno-cone.

Ut-oh, I thought, Gerber likes bright colors; I wonder where he is. Immediately, our pigeon soared from his perch on the rooftop landing on Steve's stiff from hairspray, perfectly feathered Farrah Fawcett hair. Steve shrieked, looking unsure about what the hell was assaulting his head.

Oh, dear, Smokey is attracted to sudden moves and loud noises, I thought of our mentally unbalanced cat. Steve batted spastically at the winged creature, paying no attention to the fanged one that lurked below. Creeping up, crouched almost to the ground, Smokey roared like a cougar. Steve shrieked again and, with the bird still atop his head, darted to his car. Smokey leaped, latching onto his leg and trying to chew it off as we rushed to Steve's rescue—except for my oldest brother Russ, who'd been leaning against a tree the whole time. He lit a cigarette and blew a plume of smoke in the air.

My other brother Eddie captured Smokey and then Gerber, hauling them into the house. Steve, with his stiff hair pointing in every-which-direction, stood trembling, mumbling, and looking to be in a state of shock. Beth tried to raise his spirits, saying that the bird was overly friendly, and the cat’s roar was louder than his bite. Steve still didn’t want to enter the house, but Beth coaxed him anyway to allow proper introductions, and to prove Smokey was a normal, ordinary cat. Harmless.

Inside, Smokey was on his best behavior, curled up asleep. Gerber occupied himself in my hair. And I noticed Beth’s face relax a little, but not much—more insecure about the uncertainty of our household than of the pets.

Daddy entered the room and introduced himself by extending his hand to Steve's, giving it a vigorous squeeze, which prompted Daddy to fart. What must have sounded like a starting chain saw to Smokey—ready to fell the tree he dreamed he was sleeping in—caused him to startle awake. He hissed and arched his back and looked to Steve as the source of his sleep interruption. Steve scrambled for the door, but not quickly enough to avoid fangs clamping down hard on his rear-end. Russ, no help at all, sat inches away, feet propped up, laughing. Steve escaped with Daddy in tow, chased out of the house by Mama with a broom screeching, "I want a divorce."

Beth plopped down on the dining-room chair. "Shit, piss, damn." Then she unstrapped her platforms and banged her head on the table three times.


I heard a scream so loud I worried it might set off the Emergency Broadcast System. I dashed into the house to find Mama at odds with Smokey again. He learned to open the linen closet, hop onto the shelf her eye-level, and wait. When she opened the door, he popped out like a snake-in-a-can—Mama screamed at those, too (and at the cardboard tube of biscuits that she banged on the counter until the pressure popped the can, sending her into a tizzy each time).

Smokey tore out of the house bushy-tailed, ears back, with Mama trailing close behind, shooting him with his monogrammed squirt gun. Nothing unusual, except Beth finally brought home the new boyfriend she'd been talking about—and dieting for. When she embarked on a specialized diet, she was "in" a relationship; the day she was "off" the relationship, she ate more than my competitive eating brother Eddie did. For three days, Beth had eaten only watermelon and tuna. Giving Smokey the tuna juice, she became his new love interest, expecting her to remain loyal only to him.

Beth dated three Toms—meaning, lots of dieting—which was confusing to say the least, not to mention cheating on Smokey. When a certain Tom called for her on the phone, I'd ask the caller, "Which Tom?"

Unhappy with my screening methods, Beth forbade the question. She herself avoided answering the phone so not to appear too eager, which was beneath her. Yet when the phone rang, she'd be right there panting, waiting. When I'd give her the affirmative nod, she'd whisper, "Boy or girl?"




"Which one?"

"I'll ask."

One of the Toms, I'll call him Bald Tom for obvious reasons, sat with Beth on our brown and rust colored plaid sofa. Intent on keeping up with her fast-paced, rapid-fire lecture, he leaned in, wide-eyed, spellbound, as she explained our brain-damaged bobcat, intrusive pigeon, and any other issue that might need explaining. She gave him the list of perils. "I apologize in advance for: dad farting, brother belching, mother-will-hate-you-but-don't-take-it-personally, feral sister, bird landings, cat…"

Quite lengthy, the speech. I'd heard it a thousand times before. Wiser would've been to hand out a written apology—or a medical release—to all her guests before they entered the carnival funhouse.

Bald Tom, fresh out of the military, met Beth at the Rec Center where she worked after school, in between glee club, swim-meet, volleyball practice, yearbook committee, and church outings—I think she purposely avoided us.

Mama arranged the great room in such a way that the sofa acted as a room divider, vulnerable to sneak attacks from behind. I was wise never to sit there.

I paid close attention to Smokey, who seemed intrigued by the bald headed offering before him. He paced behind the couch, contemplating. And I, no stranger to his wicked, wicked ways, kept watching. A tiny voice inside my head told me to alert the victim, but a bigger voice, the one I listened to the most and sounded suspiciously like Russ's—which was Russ's—told me to sit back and enjoy the show.

Smokey, up now on his hind legs, craned for a better look. He scaled the back of the sofa, clinging, unnoticed by the victim whose head to Smokey must've looked like an inflated big toe. He dug his hind claws into the back of the couch for grip, reared back, and grabbed hold of Tom's bald head with his front claws and teeth, simultaneously growling in an unearthly shrill. Baldy leaped to his feet with Kat Kong attached to his head like a furry helmet. Beth and Mama hustled to remove the demonic cat from the head, but Smokey's claws were in good.

"Get it off," he yelped, but he wouldn't stay still long enough to allow anyone to pry off the cat. Mama and Beth stood back out of the line of swinging arms and frantic jerking. Mama left to get Daddy. And Beth, after a half effort of trying one more time with her index finger to poke the cat, ran snickering hand-over-mouth to the kitchen—a momentary hold up when Russ wouldn't move out of the doorway—to retrieve the cat repellent mixture of water and lemon juice. This spray bottle, with Smokey's name written in permanent ink, was usually found in a makeshift holster that Mama wore, but the bottle was drained of ammo on account of an earlier incident involving cat-in-the-closet.

Beth fumbled with screwing the top back on the now-filled spray bottle when Smokey retreated to the kitchen to slay the grunions Eddie brought out of the icebox as a diversion. It worked; grunions always did the trick. Eddie saved the day. Shake a bag of skinny fish and Smokey flew to the source. The scene exceeded all others by a landslide, so much that I hadn't noticed I was laughing … loudly, but not as loud as Russ. Or Beth.

Daddy came in to apologize for what he called "an unfriendly little feller." Bald Tom's building rage caused me to feel a tad guilty. Russ exhibited no such display of guilt and looked to be giving Smokey an extra grunion as a reward.

Bald Tom sat, eyes fixed to the floor, face blood-boiling red while Mama arranged wet paper towels on his head wounds. Beth was on standby, holding the peroxide and bandages trying to look all serious and sympathetic, as if he wouldn't remember her laugh opera. He remembered. His rage gained momentum and with his head mummified in bloody paper towels, he stood up and stormed out the door, but not without a parting comment. "You guys are primitive barbarians … freaks!"

I stood there letting the last word penetrate my senses. I thought of Smokey, pigeons, burps, farts, and a boatload of other setbacks and concluded at that very moment in time, Beth and I may never marry.

The author would like to note that she and her sister did indeed marry … twice each. She would also like to note that names were changed to protect the embarrassed.

Tricia Sutton is a novelist and short story writer. Her stories and articles can be found in The Rambler, Simple Joy, the Short Humour site, and forthcoming in The Shine Journal. A previous story titled The Bionic Cat was published here on Hazard Cat. This story is an excerpt from her unfinished novel. She's still married, has two daughters, four cats, and lives in Fresno, CA. She welcomes visitors to her publications blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Break

Hazard Cat is taking a fall break this week. We should be back next week with more cat goodies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Purrsonal Story "Larry" by Pamela Johnson

by Pamela Johnson

In October of 1996, my first husband and I decided to call it quits. Unlike the four tumultuous years we'd spent together, our last few days together were calm and surprisingly void of screaming and histrionics. I don't remember much about the day he left other than the fact that he looked kind of small and vulnerable amongst the boxes of clothes, tapes and musical equipment that reached the head liner of his electric blue Ford Aspire. Guy left me with pretty much everything we'd accumulated in our years together, including our one bedroom Bernal Heights apartment and the four cats we'd adopted together.

At the ripe old age of 26, I was a divorcee, basically a complete failure in the eyes of the general population. In addition, I was attending college on the ten-year plan and peddling drinks to a smattering of early rising alcoholics at a local dive bar to pay the rent. I knew I'd never be able to find an affordable place to live that also allowed a small menagerie of pets. This was San Francisco during the Internet boom. About to give up hope, my mother informed me that I had a cousin who had recently moved to the Bay Area and was in need of someone to rent the basement apartment in her plush suburban home. I had never met my cousin Becky, but I jumped at the prospect of low rent and animal tolerance on her part. On Halloween
day, I loaded up a U-haul and moved my belongings to her house.

My new in-law apartment, and I'm saying that word generously, was a tiny, one-room studio with a kitchenette, a small bathroom, a wardrobe for a closet, a couple of windows that looked out at the siding of the neighboring house, and a front door, which opened out into the garage/laundry room. After loading in the last of my stuff, my cousin and her roommate Vicky descended the stairs to welcome me. Laughably, they asked if I needed any help. Both women were impeccably dressed in business attire, a bit tipsy, and even if they really wanted to give me a hand, they would have probably broken a nail or tripped on their three-inch Prada heels. I imagined they watched me from an upstairs window, as I wrangled my uncooperative mattress from the truck. After a quick exchange of pleasantries they clacked back up
the stairs, leaving me to survey the motley collection of boxes and bags
that summarized my existence. Lethargic and sad, I flopped onto my queen-sized mattress on the floor. Married life had been less than stellar, but at least there were two people to deal with all the hassles, not to mention stereo and VCR assembly. Now all I had were my cats. Waiting stoically in their carriers, I opened the doors, freeing them into the giant litter box of a home we now all shared. They sniffed the familiar smelling boxes and crouched low to the ground like feline soldiers preparing for battle.

As the days passed, it became glaringly obvious that my affordable rent was a lure to entice me into babysitting Becky's two children. The first few weeks I was more than happy to oblige. The holidays were coming and I wanted to feel part of a family unit. The problem was, I didn't want to be the adult in this family unit. I wanted to be the child: a chain smoking, hard drinking child with a severe dislike for waking before noon. It didn't take me long to grow weary of grilled cheese sandwiches, screaming toddlers, and Disney marathons. I needed the company of an adult, but neither Becky nor Vicky had much interest in spending any time with me.

Becky passed most of her nights with her boyfriend Paulo, a younger man who fancied himself an artist. I guess in fairness, I must acknowledge his prodigious output, which filled every nook and cranny of Becky's house. On the rare occasion that I saw him, he would insist that I come upstairs to check out his latest jester inspired masterpiece. Being a horrible liar, I would respond with a simple "wow," or "interesting," trying hard not to offend him with my actual opinions, which leaned more toward, "Don't quit your day job." Luckily, Paulo was a man of few words, most of which were about himself. He was a handsome guy with stiffly gelled black hair, who wore tight fitting Italian shirts, designer jeans, and shiny black shoes. Becky must have thought she had won the hottie lotto. In exchange for his company, she bought his interestingly bad art, and he got to ride in her black convertible Mercedes. There are worse arrangements.

I rarely saw Vicky, as she spent most of her time at work as a bank manager, or out on dates with her rich boyfriend. When I did see her in the garage or the laundry room, she would offer a quick, snippy "hey" and trot back upstairs to her bedroom, which was situated right above mine. The sound of her heels hitting the hard wood floors reverberated throughout my room.

Once the New Year started, I declared to Becky that my babysitting days were over. This did not go over well, and the alienation that ensued was palpable. I became the horrible hobbit who resided at the bottom of the stairs in a cat-infested hole in the wall. In order to avoid confrontation with Becky, I stayed inside. It was bad enough that I worked at a dead end job while attending classes with students who were almost a decade younger than me, but now my only social companions were four furry cats, who in their confined space began to misbehave.

The naughtiest cat was Larry, an 18 pound orange tabby who was trying to achieve alpha male status by scratching, spraying and fighting with my oldest cat Pooty. I would come home to find the place a wreck and Pooty riddled with battle scars; tufts of his black hair scattered around the room. While I was at work or school, Pooty would spend his days nesting on top of the kitchen cabinets, a permanent scowl affixed to his face.

After doling out hundreds of dollars to treat an abscess on one of Pooty's nastier wounds, I began to take out my frustration on Larry. Whenever he veered towards misbehavior, I screamed at him to assert my authority.

"Larry! Get out of there."

"Larry, Stop it."

"Larry, leave Pooty alone!"


I felt horrible for yelling at the poor animal. He too was in hell. But, I still did it. The once majestic male animal would turn into a cowering, compulsive grooming fool at the sound of my raised, angry voice. I tried to make it up to him by brushing his fur while he rolled around in ecstasy on my bed, or speaking to him in a loud baby voice that would make him drool.

"Larry. Larry. Larry. You know I love you. Come here. Oh, you're a good boy, Larry."

It was a constant struggle to keep the peace at my house. Larry was high maintenance. Every day, I had to shower the gargantuan, red-headed maniac with a verbal combination of undying love and top of my lung screaming. It got to the point that I was communicating with Larry more than real adult people. He loved the attention, even the yelling, but I was slowly losing my mind.

As my isolation grew, my self-esteem began to plummet, and I fell into a weird sort of hibernation, confined within the four tiny walls of my studio. If I heard footsteps coming down the stairs, I would wait and listen until the garage door was closed before I attempted my exit. Larry could sense that something was up, and would try to gain my attention with more mischief and destruction. The yelling continued, as the other cats cowered under the bed.

"Larry, STOP IT!!!"

"Larry, Larry, Laaaaaarrrrrryyyyyy!!!"

"No, no, no!"

Within minutes, we would make up. I would coo like the crazy cat lady while he basked in the glow of my adulation. On the rare occasions that I encountered my housemates, they would look at me with strange disapproval, especially Vicky, who regarded me with an evil eye that was unmistakably pointed at my lifestyle. I couldn't understand her cold demeanor. I had never been anything but nice to her.

But one night, it all came to a head. I heard loud, stomping footsteps descending the stairs and then an assertive knock on my door. My heart raced. I was overwhelmed with a sense of impending doom. I had rarely seen Becky in the past month and now she was standing outside my door. I figured she was going to kick my ass to the curb, as my rent was late and my babysitting days were over. I opened the door with great hesitation. Becky eyed me with a stern, serious expression. I could tell that she was about to let me have it. Her forehead wrinkles were in full on crinkle mode and her skinny arms were folded tightly across her barely existent chest.

"Hey," I said as friendly as I could muster.

"Can I come in?"


I stepped back and offered her the uncomfortable wicker chair. I sat cautiously on my unmade bed. The cats scattered under the frame, afraid of the Obsession-wearing intruder.

"We need to talk." She paused and looked at me with an expression that could melt a glacier.

"This is really difficult," she continued.

Oh, shit, here it comes. I grabbed a pillow and placed it on my lap as some sort of softening for the ensuing blow.

"This is really none of my business, but Vicky can hear you."

I sat there silent and confused, unsure of what to say. Can hear what? Loud music? Late night TV?

Becky uncrossed her legs and leaned towards me. She whispered.

"You and your boyfriend."

"Huh?" I replied.

I was at a loss. I didn't have a boyfriend. In the months that I'd lived there I hadn't ever brought a single person into that apartment, it was too fucking small.

"She can hear you and Larry. Her room is right above yours and she says it gets pretty loud."

"Larry? My boyfriend Larry?"

I burst out laughing and rolled back onto the bed. Becky stared at me like I was mad or drunk or both. I couldn't contain myself, as this was the most hilarious thing I had ever heard. I imagined Vicky pressing her ear to the floor as I yelled at my boyfriend to "Leave Pooty alone," and then cooing that I loved him in a weird baby voice. She must have thought I was a very strange and abusive girlfriend to a poor mute man named Larry. No wonder she avoided me.

"Larry," I called out in my sweetest come-hither voice. Larry poked his head out from under the bed.

"Come here, Larry." Larry jumped onto my lap. I scratched his chin as reassurance that everything was okay.

"Becky, I want you to meet Larry. My boyfriend."

A smile lifted Becky's face with the wacky realization that things weren't as they seemed. The tension broke and we laughed with abandon in that smelly apartment until tears streamed down our faces. In the days that followed, I ventured out into the garage, but I never bonded with Becky or Vicky. Six months later, I left the suburbs and moved into a spacious, renovated crack house in the Bay View with a man who would later become my second husband. I was crazy about him. Thankfully, so were my cats.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Inside/Out by Jim Gordon


by Jim Gordon

She wants
When out
She craves
Back in.

Those doors
Are less than
They Keep
Her where
She's been.

She needs
To leave
Her scent
On all
That's out
There, then

She wants
Back in
To rest
Till it's
Time to
Go again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Comic Strip Spellbound and Senseless by Michelle Nielsen

Michelle Nielsen has created a comic about two cat witch familiars. Click here to read Spellbound and Senseless.

Spellbound and Senseless - switcheroo


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Sleepy People (And One Wide-Awake Cat) by Lorna M. Kaine

Two Sleepy People
(And One Wide-Awake Cat)

by Lorna M. Kaine

Cats are not dumb animals. They listen in to phone conversations, they read calendars. They will even snoop in your mailbox. Avoiding a trip to the vet is kittens' play to them. All a cat has to do is find a brand new hiding place. Humans, being creatures of habit, will look for the cat in the places he normally hangs out. As soon as the cat hears the phone call to the vet canceling the appointment, he will magically appear from his latest secret hiding place.

Having been the victim of our cat, Ninja's, superior intellect a few times, I quickly hid the reminder from the vet which came in the mail. Before I called for an appointment, I put the cat out. Something new had been added to the vet's services since my last appointment. He now had what were euphemistically called "evening appointments".

"Fine," I said to the girl. "How about seven or eight o'clock?"

"Evening appointments don't start till ten o'clock," she said, her voice icy. "The next vacancy is eleven o'clock tonight."

Before I said no, I called to my husband, Gene. "Do you want to take the cat to the vet at eleven o'clock tonight?"

The dirty rat said, "Yeah, might as well get it over with."

"That's past my bedtime," I protested. "I turn into a pumpkin before then."

"That's okay, you can sleep late."

I returned to the telephone. "We'll be there at eleven," I said.

The cat, having read the calendar, knowing that his immunizations were due, disappeared for the remainder of the day. However, he thought it was safe to come in for supper. After which, thinking the vet's office was closed for the day, he crawled beneath the coffee table for his evening nap.

At ten forty-five, Ninja blissfully chased mice in his dreams. At ten forty-five and one second, I approached, holding his collar. He awoke and shot across the living room like a bottle rocket. Gene cornered him in the kitchen. Once we had outfitted the cat with his traveling clothes – a collar and leash – Gene handed him to me and went to get the car.

Ninja is a Russian Blue stray. He thinks he is Russian royalty. This is good because he feels it is beneath him to use his claws in any sort of combat. His eyes were full of disgust and fear, but he accepted the inevitable and didn't try to escape. We arrived at the vet's office promptly at eleven o'clock.

The place was bedlam. All sorts of emergencies arrived, from a pet rat with a hole in its stomach to a puppy with bleeding ears. Ninja sat on my lap, his ears laid back, eyes wide open, taking it all in. As usual when I take him there, passers-by remarked on his good looks. After a while I could see his ego was bolstered by the compliments. He relaxed, his ears came forward, he even purred a bit.

Time was passing, however. I looked at my watch, eleven-thirty. I glanced at Gene. His eyes were closed. Mr. "you can sleep late" was asleep. Eleven forty-five, a diabetic cat wrapped in a blanket was rushed into the examining room. Ninja eyed a Sharpei being led through the office. The dog paid no attention to him, but his owner, a young woman, asked if she might pet the "pretty kitty." Ninja, who hates to be touched by strangers, said nothing as she patted his head, but I could feel him tremble.

Finally, at midnight, we were admitted to the examining room. The vet read over Ninja's chart. "What's wrong with him?"

"Nothing," we said. "He's here for his shots."

The doc breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank heavens, a healthy animal." Still there were things to be done, a search for ear mites, a black-light scan of the cat's coat for signs of a fungus infection, and a check of his teeth. Finally the injections were given and Ninja was officially healthy for another year. At the last moment, the vet checked Ninja's record for his age. "Hmm," he said, "better give him some vitamins." So one more injection into the cat's hip.

By the time we paid the bill, I was so sleepy all I could see were a pair of sulfurous eyes in the cat's grey face. Gene, operating on some type of sonar, barely missed the door frame as he walked out.

It was one o'clock in the morning when we arrived home. Ninja's vitamins had kicked in. He frisked out of the car and disappeared into the night. Gene and I stumbled off to bed. As usual I awoke before six o'clock next morning. I opened the kitchen door to let in the cat. He was in fine fettle, purring like a chain saw. I fed him and, unable to stand his cheerful demeanor, dangled his collar in front of him. I opened the door and watched the furry bottle rocket disappear into the shrubbery.

I thought about looking for my newspaper, a morning ritual that involves searching through an azalea thicket and inspecting my neighbors’ drives. Instead I looked toward the eastern sky to see a waning moon, Venus and Jupiter all in a row. This was enough of a heavenly omen for me. I crawled back to bed to await a more auspicious awakening to my morning.