we run before dawn
two pairs of feet trotting along
dark silent streets,
then up the mountain.
a few feet off the road
foraging in the woods
silhouetted in the dim cold
they look up for a moment
then ignore us
as we continue down the road
the horizon now swelling pink
through the bare trees.
Click the thumbnail images to see larger versions.
We are proud to announce the addition of Jack and Lily to our distinguished roster of felines. The hero who rescued this pair from the street was advertising them on Facebook, and people were expressing interest in adopting one but not both. Amy was appalled at the idea of splitting up this pair, and had been sort of interested in acquiring kittens anyway. We already had the incomparably magnificent Vernon T. Bludgeon and Master Lin-chi on our payroll, and knew there was a risk that the introduction of kittens into their world would be disastrous. Anecdotal evidence suggests that sometimes it works — eventually — and everyone gets along; sometimes it results in a fragile truce with intermittent hostility; and sometimes there is relentless, evil persecution of one cat at the hands of others, and the stress ends up shortening the lifespan of the unlucky one. But — what the fuck! We went for it.
As we expected, the big cats were not amused when we brought in the little ones in late October. We kept Jack and Lily in protective custody in our bedroom. Vernon went nuts and started redirecting his aggression towards Lin-chi. They had several truly nasty fights and for a while we were running a cat prison with the kittens, Vernon, Lin-chi and all separated. The drama between the latter two provided an insight into their relationship, for those who hitherto had been too dense to see: Vernon is the alpha cat. Lin-chi has always been bigger by a factor of 1.5, and when they were kittens he would kick Vernon’s ass from one end of my Jersey City apartment to the other. As they grew, Vernon became the one who always initiated the mixed martial arts matches. Vernon doesn’t give a shit about Lin-chi’s size advantage. Lin-chi usually lies on the floor and plays defense while Vernon keeps attacking until finally the Master gets up and retreats. I realized that in these play-fights Vernon is establishing who is boss by driving Lin-chi away from wherever he is hanging out. When the kittens encroached on Vernon’s scene, he flipped, and since he couldn’t take it out on the intruders, he went after Lin-chi instead. I came to appreciate that when I named Vernon after the Vernon of vernontbludgeon.com, it was not just in honor of Vernon; it was prescient.
Lily is shy, and hid under the bed for most of the first couple of weeks. Jack is the polar opposite: extroverted, fearless, feisty. To our great relief, Vernon’s aggression towards Lin-chi fell away as both kittens started coming out and exploring the house. At first Vernon, being Vernon, would routinely attack and harrass the kittens. But little Jack, the kitten with balls of steel, thought it was a joke. Undaunted, he started coming right out and playing with toys in front of the big cats, who would watch as though dumbfounded by his chutzpah. Soon he was walking right up to Vernon, getting in his face and fucking with him — with none other than Vernon himself! Now they practice kicking, striking, biting and grappling with each other every day, and though he may say otherwise — growling and snarling as he does — Vernon is loving having a fresh young opponent to spar with. And they have begun to rule the dining room table together like it’s no big deal.
Lily is still timid, but she too is gradually establishing her presence. Her brother Jack is extraordinarily affectionate, playful and vocal — and quite a pain in the ass when he insists on climbing onto your sleeping form several times a night, getting right up in your face and exclaiming ack! ack! Minor nuisance notwithstanding, we are thoroughly delighted to have four stupendous cats populating our household.