A peaceful idyllic day filled the park
And I was stretched out on my back, my sight fixed on the azure sky and the floating cotton balls that made their home there. An orange and black monarch butterfly flitted through the air, coming to rest on my nose. I stared at it through crossed eyes and soon saw that it was looking at me too.
“Hello there Butterfly, how are you today?” I asked. I couldn’t wait to hear what he … or she … had to say. I don’t know about how things in your world work my friends, but in my world butterflies do not land on your nose.
“I am very well, thank you,” the Butterfly answered in a feminine voice. She sat quietly on the very tip of my nose for a moment looking deeply into my eyes searching my soul. She smiled, quickly swung her head to gaze at a flock of geese and songbirds and called out loudly …
“Hit it boys!”
The birds began tweeting and honking out the rhythm to the Macarena. A parrot swooped down out of the sky and roosted on a tree branch right above me. He took a deep breath and began belting out the lyrics. The butterfly began to do the famous dance on the end of my nose. The whole park was alive with excitement.
“Hey Macarena!” all the squirrels in the park would call out at the appropriate times. My own heart was booming along to the bass line.
Then with a thunderclap, it all ended as quickly as it had started. Animals scattered everywhere until I was all alone.
The clouds went black, then emptied their contents on me. At first, the potato chips gently wafted out of the sky, but after a minute or two it was pouring chips everywhere!
“Yahoooooo!” my voice echoed through the vacant park. I scooped up a mouthful of those yummy salty potato chips from the ground and started crunching away.
“Cindee,” a soft Cuban voice rolled gently across the open fields and around the park benches.
“Cindee,” came the ethereal voice again, this time more urgently. It had caught my attention. I stopped crunching on the deliciousness that had fallen from the sky. Looking around, it was obvious to me I was all alone, but this voice …
“Cindee,” it was so forceful it jolted my eyes wide open.
“Why did you have to go and ruin such a beautiful dream?” I asked.
“Something is going on!” the oversized orange cat growled, unable to contain the terror in his large green eyes.
“Something terrible …”
the words tumbled out of my mouth as we pushed the bedroom door open and stumbled into the living room. There was debris scattered everywhere. It was like a bomb had went off. Clothing was piled on the floor along with tennis racquets, shoes and pots and pans from the kitchen. Even the pictures were off the walls. The television was on the sofa and a wall of boxes had started to grow in the dining room. Rapi followed close behind me as we explored the remnants of our home.
“Did I sleep through World War three?” I asked spinning around to find Rapi standing behind me, tears streaming down his cheeks.
It was only then that I realized that Mommy and Daddy weren’t here. Maybe they went to get pizza for me, I thought silently. Looking around at the destruction again it suddenly dawned on me, Bella and Yehudi were nowhere to be found.
“Bella and Yehudi,” I asked with a gulp. Rapi stood there with a far off look on his face. I began to pant nervously.
“Rapi,” I barked at him in an attempt to draw him back to reality. With a squeak his head snapped up so that his eyes met mine. A giant question mark flashed across his tiny round face.
“The other cats? Where are they,” I began to interrogate him. Still nothing. Exasperated I reached out my paw and gave him a poke on the forehead.
“Huh? Oh um, they are hiding,” he said calmly, which I found to be an odd juxtaposition to his behavior.
He nodded for me to follow him. With that we did an about face and headed towards the guest room. Rapi carried himself in a graceful sort of way. While his large tummy swayed from side to side, he kept his head and tail held high. I could hear him sniffling back tears as he lead me through the spare bedroom and to the closet.
I peered inside. I didn’t see anything, but more junk piled into the air. I squinted my eyes and moved my head around until at last I spotted a long, thin, black tail poking out of the bottom of the trash heap.
“Yehudi,” I called out
A loud screech echoed through the room and the pile shifted in front of me, teetering on the brink of falling over. The tail quickly submerged beneath the rubble and a deathly silence fell over the room.
What’s going on?
I asked. Rapi shifted his eyes back and forth taking in his surroundings. He looked pleedingly at me.
“Daddy brought donuts home for breakfast,” Rapi began to explain in his deep Cuban voice.
“You didn’t think to come get me,” I asked accusingly.
“Be quiet and let me talk,” he snapped at me. I jumped back, shocked by his outburst. That was not like Rapi at all.
“Sorry, I am just a little on edge,” he apologized. I sat down and encouraged him to do the same, but he wouldn’t.
“Mommy and Daddy were talking over breakfast. They didn’t see me laying behind the television. They were talking about what was going to happen today,” he started to pace back and forth.
“What is going to happen today,” I questioned him.
Silence. I had started to pant wildly, and my heart was pounding in my chest.
“What!” I rose to my feet and barked loudly at him.
He nodded his head ominously towards the corner.
It’s moving day!
“that’s what they said,” Rapi explained, nodding at the three cat carriers piled up in the corner. I blew out a sigh of relief and planted a sloppy kiss on top of Rapi’s head with the hope of getting him to calm down.
“It won’t be bad, we’ve done this before,” I reminded him
“Not bad! Not bad?” his voice cracked.
“I seem to remember a certain brown dog that was too afraid to get out of the car to pee” he reminded me, the tension in his voice real. I thought back to that trip. Twenty four hours on the road from Miami to New York. It was scary.
The doorknob to the apartment rattled then swung open. Rapi dove headfirst into the closet, burrowing through Mommy and Daddy’s stuff until he was safely hidden. I turned and ran to the door and got me some loving.
It was a long day!
I spent most of it perched on my blue ottoman watching Mommy and Daddy take everything out of the apartment and put it neatly in the truck. All the neighbors passing by on the street would stop and talk to Mommy and Daddy wishing us well. They kept going until the sun went down.
It was an emotional day. With each thing that Mommy and Daddy took out it would bring fresh memories of our home. New York City had been my home for most of my life. It was where all my friends lived. It was also the place where I lost loved ones. I hadn’t seen the cats all day either. Once they were hidden, they were not going to come out for anything.
Everything was in the big truck except for a pile of blankets and the junk the cats were hiding under. I wonder if they were going to leave that behind for the new people that lived in our home. We spent that evening cuddled up in the blankets listening to music.
I woke up in the morning to find the cats still hiding. Daddy took me to the run to do my business. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a drug dealer or anything. When Daddy says business, he mean peeing and pooping. My best friend was there waiting for me.
“Tavo!” I called out. He spun around and came at me fast.
“Cindee!” he called whooshing by me in a tan streak. I spun and chased him down. Once I caught him, I pinned him down on the ground and we wrestled for awhile. I won, but I think he lets me win on purpose. We laughed so hard it took my breath away.
“I heard your moving,” Tavo asked.
“Yeah, but how did you know?”
Tavo didn’t answer right away. His pained eyes gazed into mine.
“Pee mail,” he said finally with a laugh.
“You are all anyone can talk about, all I can talk about,” he admitted openly, all the while he was trying to contain his sorrow.
I leaned over and bumped heads with him then kissed him gently on the cheek.
“Tavo let’s go!” his daddy called over to us. Tavo looked at the short balding man but didn’t move.
“C’mon buddy I gotta go to work,” he announced from across the yard.
“I gotta go,” Tavo lamented. I felt my chest tighten. My eyes began to burn at the birth of baby tears in my eyes. He turned and started to trot away. Tavo had gotten halfway across the yard when he suddenly stopped. He stood completely still for a beat, then turned, raced back to me and kissed me on the cheek.
“I love you Cindee,” he said shyly. Next, he turned and trotted off with his Daddy, casting one last glance over at me before turning the corner and vanishing out of sight.
THUD THUD THUD THUD
the old fan in the top of the elevator went. Ding went the bell letting us know each floor that we passed. The decrepit box lurched to a stop on the fourth floor and the doors slid open. We lived in the apartment across from the elevator.
Mommy was waiting inside with a cup of coffee from the coffee shop down the street in her hand.
“Are you ready for this,” she asked while Daddy stole a sip of her coffee.
“As ready as I can be,” he answered with a nervous laugh. Setting the cup down on the counter he grabbed his heavy winter coat and put it on.
Now friends, if you don’t know my Daddy, he can be a little wackadoo if you know what I mean. This was strange, even for him. You see it is the middle of summer and eighty-five degrees out. Why was that nut job Daddy putting on his thickest warmest winter parka.
I plopped down onto my butt and watched on, completely stumped by what was happening. Mommy and Daddy marched to the guest bedroom, Mommy in her shorts, tank top and flip flops while Daddy marched behind in his winter parka, heavy work gloves and barefoot. I tried to blink back the confusion.
Daddy started to close the door behind him. Needing to know what was happening I raced over and got my nose in the door to stop him from closing it. I tried to force my way in, but Daddy pushed me back out into the hallway.
“it’s probably better that you wait out here,” he said softly to me. Then with a pat on the head and a kiss on the nose he closed the door in my face.
“How rude,” I barked at him. He may think he can close the door on me, but I am not going anywhere.
That’s when it happened friends.
A loud crash came from the other side of the door. Then yelling and screaming all at the same time. Through the cacophony of noise, I could hear Rapi’s voice. He was hollering bad things at Mommy and Daddy. He said that Daddy did not have a father and that Daddy’s mommy was a girl dog. After that he said things to Mommy that I cannot repeat.
While all this was going on there was loud banging. It sounded like they were breaking down the walls. Bella was screaming and clawing at the door trying to get it open.
“What is going on in there,” I wondered aloud. I couldn’t stand idly by any longer. I started pawing at the door.
“Open the door! Let me in! Let me in,” I barked over and over. Then, as quickly as it had started it came to an end. The apartment was filled with blissful silence. The doorknob rattled and the door squeaked open.
Mommy was standing in the doorway laughing.
“That’s too bad I really liked that one too,” she said to Daddy who stood in the middle of the room. His grey coat was shredded and little pieces of vegan down floated in the air. The contents of the closet were scattered everywhere. In the far corner of the room sat three pet carriers, each containing one very angry cat.
the big truck went as it pulled away from the curb in front of us. The neighbors lined the sidewalk to wave goodbye. I turned around and looked out the back window. Chester and his mommy stood in the middle of the street waving. That’s when it really hit me. Emotions flooded my heart. I was never going to see these friends again.
There was an accident on the George Washington Bridge and it took us forever to get out of the city. Rapi and I had the window seats with Bella wedged between us. Everyone sat quietly listening to Mommy and Daddy talk over the hands free phones. In the background we could hear Yehudi chattering on endlessly with her questions.
“Where are we? Why are we going slow? Why is the seat so bouncy? Where is Mommy?” on and on her voice droned over the phone.
“It will be a long ride for Daddy, being all alone in the truck with her,” Bella teeheed.
I started to drift off into a melancholy haze. My eyes were getting heavy from staring out the window at the same tractor trailer. I felt the hum of the tires under us once we reached the bridge and began to pick up speed, but it just didn’t register with my brain. Soon we were in New Jersey and flying down the highway at eighty miles an hour. The trees were whooshing by, but I didn’t even notice.
The fog started to clear in my head the moment I saw it. Two big brown eyes staring at me through the window. His brown head hung out of his car window, which was cruising along side us, tongue flapping in the wind like a tattered flag.
“Who is that dog,” the words unconsciously rolled off my tongue. He yelled something to me, but I couldn’t make out his words. Mesmerized, I hit the button on the door panel. The window rolled down smoothly. A rush of air hit me in the face.
All heck broke loose inside the car.
“Nooooooooooo, don’t do It,” Rapi cried out.
“Oh my gosh, she’s going to suicide,” Bella screeched next to me.
Both cats started clawing and biting at the bars of their carriers. Rapi threw all his weight against the front of his carrier, causing it to shift and lurch forward.
“No, no, I am not going to jump,” I tried to protest, all the while wondering where they got such a wild idea.
The car started to swerve around in our lane. Mommy was going back and forth between looking over her shoulder at me and checking the road.
“Cindee has opened the window and is trying to jump,” she yelled at Daddy.
“I’m not trying …” I tried to explain.
“Cindeeeeeeeeee,” the panic in Mommy’s voice scared me.
Bella was still screaching and Rapi had switched tactics. His new strategy involved slamming his body against one side of the carrier, then throwing himself against the other. The end result was the carrier rocking back and forth until it was precariously on the brink of spilling over.
“Don’t jump Cindeeeeeeeeeeee,” Yehudi’s voice came clearly over the phone.
Daddy was talking calmly to Mommy giving her instructions. She took a deep breath. A moment later my window started to go back up and the locks clicked on. Mommy had locked us in like three villains in the back of a police car.
“Freedom,” came the rallying cry from the big dog in the car next to us just as the window sealed shut. I turned just in time to see both him and the car he was hanging out of go rocketing past us and down the highway.
“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen …”
The lyrics rolled off Rapi’s tongue. He seemed to be taking great pleasure in torturing us with his pitchy singing voice. Things had calmed down since Mommy locked us in. We had just been listening to the endless drone of humming tires and Mommy talking to Daddy over the phone.
Daddy had said we went through New Jersey and Pennsylvania and were back in New York. I think maybe he was lost. This did not look like New York at all. There were no tall buildings that were right next to each other. It wasn’t noisy or busy either. This place had lots of trees and mountains and sometimes we drove for fifteen minutes between houses. I think Daddy bumped his head.
“What’s a Binghamton,” Rapi asked.
“I think it’s a kind of bird,” I answered, not exactly sure if that was right, but it sounded like it could be.
I was getting a little dizzy watching the scenery whizz by. I didn’t get much warning.
“Look out!” my tummy yelled
“Huh,” I said, crunching up my forehead. I turned to look at Rapi.
“Brown sugar, you Don’t look so …”
“Pull over I’m gonna be sick!”
Mr Sun had gone to bed …
And I was ready to go too. We had stopped to eat and do our business and were back on the road. Rapi and Bella had dozed off awhile ago. I had fallen asleep too, but I was so tired I didn’t have any dreams.
“We are home babies,” Mommy’s voice woke me up.
I lifted my head up off the seat to look around. When I woke up my face was covered in drool. How uncool is that. Daddy helped me out of the car. It was super dark. I could see the big silver moon hanging in the sky and there were millions of little dots in the sky. I had never seen anything like it before. Daddy called them stars. I always kind of liked nighttime. All the people had gone inside. I think they were afraid of the dark. Daddy opened the gate and we went into the back yard. It was big, and Daddy said it was all mine.
I ran around the back yard and did my business. I am good at doing my business. I am so good that Daddy calls me his little businesswoman.
Daddy put his arm around Mommy and they stared up at the stars together. I quietly sat down and listened. What? If I didn’t eavesdrop, I would never know what was going on. So, I silently watched.
“How does it feel,” Mommy asked, as she turned and snuggled into Daddy’s arms as.
Daddy took a deep breath in and held it for a moment before exhaling.
“Good, really good” he said dreaming.
Later that night as all of us snuggled together on the floor, I told Rapi everything I heard in the backyard.
“Wow,” he said his green eyes glowing in the dark.
“So, this is Daddy’s home. His forever home that he was born in,” Rapi’s tired voice trailed off to sleep.
Ever so slowly my own eyes grew heavy and closed. As I drifted off into slumber, I left behind me another day. Not just any day, but the day we moved back to Daddy’s forever home.
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