Where’s Busby? – Tom Gaffney
“No, I am not going to pay for someone to sniff her trail. I know Nicole did. But we both agreed on what happened to Blanche. A . . .”
“Don’t say it. I can’t bear to think that.”
We both thought it was a coyote that got Blanche. Nicole paid somebody to check its trail. She thought somebody stole the cat. They followed Blanche’s trail through the alley, down the street , where it abruptly disappeared in a parking lot by the playfield. Nicole had been convinced someone had stolen the cat.
Who steals a cat? Nobody steals a cat. Don’t get me wrong. But who steals a cat? More at hand, where is Busby?
He would have to go missing now. During the move, just before she’s supposed to travel. I cannot think he was traumatized by any specific incident. The blow ups were smaller, increasingly irregular. And then finally cold. Blissfully, thankfully. Cold and no longer requiring tending. Except for fucking Busby. I’m projecting my own issues. Busby doesn’t, can’t, really, care. If he were doing this because he was upset it would happen once he got to his new house.
Anyway – the move was uneventful and he has not seemed to be worried about a thing.
“I’m going to do another loop around the block. Before it gets fully dark.”
“OK. Shelly, I’m sorry. I don’t know.”
“I know Will, this is just unbearable though. Why now?”
Why Busby, why have you disappeared, why now? Right now she’s hoping he isn’t hurt. Replaying in her mind the last time she saw him. Why now Busby? The silent absence of the cat complicating everything.
Shelly and I are breaking up. Somewhat cordially. The noisy emotions had passed a while ago. Things had gone cold. No path forward really: we were tired of fighting for it. Most others would blame me, I guess.
Well, what can I do?
I wish I had a clearer sign than this stupid cat going missing. Every time we – I mean I – turn a corner there is one more string to cut, one more part to let go. Shelly and the cat. Always some other mammal to take care of, something to support emotionally.
Of course, I care for them both. But not enough to take care of them all the time. Busby, you rotten little cuss. I never really wanted you. But you were rotten and entertaining and somehow undeniable. Now, where the hell are you?
We had finished packing Shelly’s stuff up and out over a week ago. No problems then. You are seven years old and you’ve never disappeared. Why now? And this end with Shelly has been agonizing. It would be easier if we couldn’t stand each other. But no. Too many arguments, too many disagreements about what we are going to do with our lives. So many discussions about our next steps. I am not commitment phobic, either I am just not ready or Shelly is not the one for me, for good. Asides from Busby there was really nothing else to decide, which might be part of the problem.
I’ve got no argument with her now. She did not want the house, and I’ll be able to buy her out eventually. It’s been easy, but sad. We’ve had a good run, and I think we will both be better for it going forward.
Can’t wait to have more space. Whatever I want to do. The world’s a blank canvas. Except not tomorrow night. None of the boys can head out this weekend – commitments. But I can work in the yard, I guess. Hit the town on Saturday. Sleep until the break of noon and head to the gym.
Circling the house, I look at the fallow garden. Nearly time to plant the peas I guess. Shelly always did that. Did a good job too. Flowers and color. Not sure I’ll be able to keep that up. Either hire a landscaper, or as Bill would suggest, get a new girlfriend. No sign of the damn cat. Thankfully, I guess. If I found him out here it would only be his remains.
Now, with Blanche they never found anything. But over a span of a few weeks we’d seen a coyote who we guess was living in the green space further up the street. Plenty of space there for a wild invader to make its lonely living. Does not seem to match the image of the coyote out in the wild, the trickster with plenty of place to roam. Instead, here he (or she) is, living on cats and rats.
Where are you Busby?
I see Shelly coming up the street, looking frail and on edge, stopped talking to the neighbor. As I walk up, I see the neighbor pointing to the house next to his. Shelly waves at me, then heads up to the door.
Turns out the neighbor has been hearing a cat cry all afternoon in the neighbor’s basement. Nobody is home though. A comical scene ensues, with Shelly at the neighbor’s basement door calling for Busby, the sound of the cat’s shrill cries as we look for a way to get in. Looks like Busby was wandering and exploring and got himself trapped somehow. One neighbor locates another neighbor with a key to house.
Pretty soon Busby is free, purring, rubbing legs, and calling for food. I’ve never been so relieved to see a mammal I am ready to move out of my life. But he’s alive and happy and the prospect for transitions continuing looks good.
The cat is fed, relief elaborated on, goodbyes circulated. So long Shelly and Busby, good luck to you both.
Inside my new situation, finally realized, I head to the liquor cabinet. Time for some scotch. But there isn’t any there – I finished it last week – we, I mean me, never got to the store. Looking at my watch, it’s too late and I’m too lazy to go out for new supplies. The TV’s gone too, so I settle down for some Netflix on the ipad. Nothing seems too interesting.
The place is dark and still. All I can hear is the sound of my old windup alarm clock ticking away.