It's 10 o'clock at night October 30, and the gray-and-white semi-feral cat who hangs around the condo building is scratching at the window. He ordinarily doesn't come up to the top floor, but he's out there, silently meowing, claws sticking into the screen's mesh. His eyes fully dilated, pupils blacker than a limousine.
The college kids downstairs have been feeding him for the past few weeks, but they're apparently gone. I go to the cabinet, pull out a can of sardines and empty it onto a paper plate. I eat a filet myself while stepping to the front door. Outside on the balcony overlooking the neighborhood of apartment buildings and houses, I set the plate down, and he stops meowing and begins eating eagerly.
I'm in boxers and a t-shirt standing barefoot outside in a cold wind waiting for this cat to finish chowing down. This could be the first time he's filled his belly all day. How did he survive before the kids downstairs started feeding him? I imagine he waited and pounced on grounded birds and paused rodents. It's not safe down there. Two years ago a yuppie got shot chasing a kid who stole his backpack off the side of a basketball court at the nearby park. Cars are routinely raided for coins, poorly installed stereos and expensive GPS systems that merely restate what windshields display for free.
My new friend is completely focused now on his plate of fish. I'm slightly worried I may startle the Japanese chick next door should she poke her head out her front door or window while I'm standing in my underwear waiting to bus the cat's table. I don't want to leave a dirty paper plate on our landing.
Meanwhile, a cold wind steadily blows in from the west. Down there beyond the wrought iron, many street lamps mark lonely vigils lighting silent, still cars. TVs flicker from assorted windows. In the moonless night, east Long Beach flattens from Signal Hill to Alamitos Bay and the bright lights of harbor cranes to the west. Mexican ranchera accordions and trumpets from a distant radio provide a faint soundtrack. I can't understand every lyric, but I know the man singing is trying to sound sad about once-promising love.
Above it all, a hungry cat who's not wild anymore satiates his returning hunger. I wish I could lose weight quickly.
I haven't written a damn thing in this blog for more than a month. I originally wanted to use it as a forum to write about my political views.
There's an election Tuesday.
But tonight I am honored that the cat came up to see me when he got hungry and there was no one downstairs. It makes me feel like I was a viable option for him, and now his choice is successful. That's better than Meg Whitman or Jerry Brown. The economy is fine for one homeless cat. At least for tonight.