VOICES FROM THE STREET: Two Dogs and a Kitten (Part Four)

A man gets out of prison and comes home to the mother of his children and is blown away by the chaos they live in. He’s struggling to stay drug-free but doesn’t have a program. He just got stoned with a friend who had a place to bathe his kids. (Click here for Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)

As far as making love to Lisa, well, things just fell into place. I guess it had been good for both of us. I just hoped she didn’t expect more than I could give.

Back at the house Cress was drunk and so were her friends. I put the kids to bed and sat up in the dark with them for a while. I was glad that they were sleeping on clean sheets. For a while I was worried that the noise would wake them but I guess they were used to it.

I went out to the porch and sat in one of the soft chairs. Fell asleep. Woke up to a crashing noise in the living room. I ran in and two of the guys were rolling around on the floor. There was blood and I saw a knife flash in the light. Everybody was yelling and I saw Jeannie standing at the door to the bedroom. Her eyes were open real wide.

I ran over to her and picked her up. One of the guys screamed and I saw the flesh hanging off his cheek. His teeth were showing and the other guy pulled back and stared like he couldn’t believe what a knife could do.

I had seen this go on in other places but, with my kids right there, I really got upset and blew up. I told everyone to get out. One of the guys started yelling at me and Jeannie was crying. I guess Donald was still asleep.

The police came over. They were surprised to see me and asked how long I planned on staying around. I told them I didn’t know. And that was the truth.

They took the guy who was cut up to the hospital, arrested the guy who cut him and everyone else went home. Cress kept drinking. Jeannie curled up with me on the couch and we fell asleep.

I woke up just as the sun was coming up. I eased myself off the couch so Jeannie wouldn’t wake up. Went outside and smoked a cigarette, then went to the country store to buy cereal and milk. I bought some ice to keep the milk cold for a while. When I got back Jeannie and Donald were huddled on the couch together. Donald’s pajamas were on the floor. They were wet with urine.

I stripped his bed and opened the window to air it out. I had left the dogs tied outside all night so the floor was clean for the first time since I had arrived.

I sponged Isaac off with cold tap water. He shivered and cried a little bit but he seemed happy to be clean. Jeannie was playing with the kitten as I put the cereal on the table, poured in the milk and slapped a teaspoonful of sugar into each dish.

The three of us sat down and started to eat. The kitten jumped up on the table and started to eat out of Donald’s bowl. “No,” I said, and pushed the kitten off the table.

It jumped back up and crept over to Jeannie’s bowl. I pushed it down to the floor again. Jeannie asked me why I pushed it off the table and I told her that it was not healthy to have the cat eat out of our bowls while we ate.

While I was talking, it jumped back up on the table and started eating out of Donald’s bowl again. I was really annoyed and reached to push it away again. As I pushed, the kitten hissed at me. I batted the kitten off the table.

It seemed like slow motion but it happened too fast to stop. The kitten hit the floor and slid into the metal leg of the cook stove. Its spine must have snapped and all of a sudden it screeched and thrashed all over the floor.

I looked at Jeannie and Donald. Their eyes were so big, they seemed to spill into their foreheads and cheeks. The kitten was kicking its front legs furiously as it tried to run from the death that was enveloping it, but it became the death that it was running from.

It was over in about 30 seconds but the horror of the moment was eternal in my mind. Like a freeze frame, it kept happening, happening, happening.

Jeannie was bending over the still, small body and tears streamed down her face.

“What happened, daddy? What happened, daddy?” Donald asked.

“Daddy, daddy, will the kitten be all right?” asked Jeannie.

I kneeled down by the kitten and gently picked up its soft body from the floor. I had never felt more hopeless or helpless in my life. Empty.

“Jeannie, Donald, the kitten is dead.”

They both started crying. I wanted to tell them that it had gone to God, would rest in kitty heaven, all that stuff, but I knew that nothing I said would ever make it right.


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