Rodentia Rides the Burro

by Caliban

And so it comes to pass.
Sleep you sound, little cat, little cat.


Dreams of My Honored Dead (Rodentia)

Today tastes like white linen, caliche, and pine.

I dreamed of Rodentia last night.

I’m afraid I broke the cardinal rule—never tell your visitor they’re dead, or recall their death while dreaming. It’s unutterably rude. They broke the rules to come back and see you while your waking, rational mind is out of their way. The least you can do is meet them halfway and respect their efforts.

We were first in the vet’s office, and the vet was asking if she’d bitten anyone in the last two weeks. I found this funny in the dream for some reason, and thought, “Wait till I tell the Dinch about this one.” And then I remembered, and looked down at the table, and she looked back up at me with stricken eyes, and I woke up.

Woke up angry at myself for opening my big mouth, with a fleeting impression of Rodentia—all her fur grown back, at her healthy adult weight. Realizing that this was a dream, one of those precious dreams of the fallen. I apologized to her, whispering in the night that I meant it when I said she was welcome anytime, that I was willing to try again if she’d forgive me for taking that steaming dump on the dinner table.

So I slept again, and she was back.

We went places a cat would find interesting—to my folk’s house in Albuquerque with a wild front lawn that went on for acres, full of plants and birds. It smelled wonderful to my nose, green and wild and blooming. She sat on the front porch glider with me, and I stroked her fur.

Her fur was silky, like human hair, and I could run my fingers through it like my own, all the way from skin to tip without tangle or mat. She twisted about to groom herself, limber as a rubber band. It was clear grooming was about the pleasure of bending more than about arranging her fur. It gleamed with health.

She sat beside me in a way she never had in life, half on her side with her hips on the ground, half sitting up on her forelegs. “Hips,” she said, with gloating satisfaction, and I could see she was no longer in any pain from the arthritis that crabbed her walk up on tiptoe. She flowed like water again.

She held up a front paw, showing me her claws were back, needle-sharp and translucent white. Pearly like the moon in crescent. She caught a sparrow easily, plucking it from a plant like an ear of corn. Her teeth were strong and white. She offered me half, which I declined, and she shrugged and ate the whole thing herself, leaving a pair of angel wings on the path.

Then we were in Greer, sitting on the back deck of the cabin, watching the birds and squirrels and rabbits. Just sitting in the sun, with soft breezes blowing. She rolled on her back on the deck, showing me her belly fur — creamy off-white and shiny. No growth, no tumor, just healthy muscle and a small layer of fat. I stroked her ribs and belly the way she liked when she was in heat.

At the crest of the La Luz trail, there was a stone bench overlooking the city where we sat and watched the sun set. She hopped up next to me with a silver comb in her mouth. “Brush, monkey,” she said, and I took the comb to her fur. No tangles, no mats, no bits of stuff to pull. Just strands parting easily under the teeth. We sat there, she and I, as I brushed her and brushed her and brushed her while the moon rose.

One of the last things we said to her was to come back and visit whenever she could. It’s good to see her again, even for just a little while in the still quiet of the night.

Sleep you sound, little cat, little cat.


Not Dead, But Dreaming

I dreamed I was a superheroine of the Batman variety. No superpowers per se, just a very very fit body, with the commensurate mens sana and a gazillion teensy-weensy gadgets. And an obsession with law and order.

So there I was, working away at Hopalong’s office, earning the daily bread, when the phone rang and it was the Commissioner calling to report an alert. Archnemesis was plotting a crime and had phoned in the details, but no one could stop him except me. Well, not me, but Superheroine. I seemed to have her in my Rolodex, could I get a hold of her and get this worked out?

But of course.

I hung up the phone, made some lame excuse to Hopalong (early lunch! Meeting afterwards! back soon!) and dashed out of the office, tearing off my work clothes to reveal the obligatory spandex unitard and slapping on the domino mask.

Boom! Into the car! Zoom! Out of the parking lot! Whisk! Into the warehouse to confront Archnemesis. Alone. In the gloom. With nothing but my soft animal body, my quick wits, and my messenger bag full of toys.

One out of three ain’t bad.

So there I am, crouched in the shadows by the one entrance/exit to the gargantuan warehouse, waiting for Archnemesis to come by with his dozens of henchmen carrying their ill-gotten goods so I can take them all out. Barehanded.

When… in strolls Rodentia, tail held high. She looks up at me. Whatcha doin’, monkey? she asks.

“Fighting crime,” I whisper back.

Oh. That’s good. She tumbles bonelessly to the floor, easy as a rubber band. Rub belly? She wriggles there to make her point, waving her legs.

“I can’t really…”

Rub belly! She peers at me over her breastbone, eyes narrowing.

“But you see…”

RUB. BELLY. NOW. Her tail begins to switch.

I kneel beside her, remove one glove, and rub her belly. Her eyes close, her head tips back, and she begins to purr. Just then, a slightly darker shadow falls over us… it’s Archnemesis! He’s going to get away!

I look up at him, and shrug. He looks down at us… and shrugs, leaning against the wall to wait until Rodentia’s done with her belly rub.

That’s just how it is when you’re owned by a cat.

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