// First version 6pm
I took a telephone call late in the day.. Wife insisted I be home for five because old fella Tiggy was panting, looked like he needed a lollipop and not the cat mash I’ve been serving the boy for seventeen years, every morning good as gold. I don’t really involve vocally with the lady chat on cats, but down the vets, the kind of brutish veterinary said our cat had heart failure.
‘But what about pain?’ I said.
‘It’s not about pain,’ she said, ‘it’s drowning in your own lungs, a mounting anxiety…’
That shut me up.
‘You have to decide, I’m very sorry to put you in this position but I have a hospital appointment of my own, I’m closing early.’
I couldn’t cry or weep about our old cat, we just had to do the humanitarian thing as veteran veterinary seemed to suggest.
She put our cat to sleep and my old wife was crying in the street. Me, as well, I was all manly with a globule in the eyeball, but anyways we’re now lonely folk with no pussycat.
Version 2, 7pm
‘The basket is over there,’ she says, his pretty little wife. She is pretty and she is little.
And they wait in the vet’s waiting area, watch the video in the corner: cats and dogs, a happy life. Their cat meows upon his blanket. They avoid the stares of the scum dog owners, and their dogs licking at the knees.
‘Did I ask your dog to lick my knee?’
‘I don’t know,’ says the owner. ‘Did you, Rover ask that fella?’
The dog is mute, unconcerned, has worming to face, an injection for kennel cough. The dog coughs. All the cats cower in their plastic cages.
Then the couple, man and wife, are summoned by the brutal vet. The wife natters on, an anxiety chat that fills silence, and the vet, kind of Crass anarchist, bovver lady ’83, she sneers.
The man interrupts the diagnosis of their 97 year old pussycat, thinks to impose with some profound dialogue:
‘We believe our pussycat is asthmatic,’ he says.
The vet turns, the stethoscope at her ears,
‘Do you mind, I am listening to…’
‘Oh I am very sorry, I…’
‘Your cat has heart failure and is going to die…’ says the vet.
‘Oh, oh dear,’ and the wife’s little eyes turn like pearl drops, she sags in her summer dress, looks to her husband slouched in the corner’s man chair.
‘I’m sorry, only if you wish to euthanize this obviously suffering creature, I require your decision. Just I have a medical appointment of my own to…we’re closing in fifteen minutes. Shall I fetch the pre-medication whilst you make your…yes?’ says the vet.
‘Yes,’ says the man.
‘Oh,’ says the wife, smeared against the wall.
Ropey couple’s ropey old pussycat is shaved, a line placed above his paw, and husband places an arm around his wife, holds it together, wife [now] wears sunglasses.
Five minutes later they are on the street. An empty cat basket, and the rush hour jam is stop start to their elbows.
‘Darling, please let’s stop here, and…’
And on the pavement they hug, squeeze and she cries, heaves at the chest, sobs. He has a massive globule up in the corner of his eye but must keep it in with cigarettes to buy.