My mornings usually start with my cat Sheba letting me know its time to wake up, step outside, take our walk around the yard. She does want me to follow her around her path, then sit and enjoy the morning with its stars with her and listen to the birds waking and beginning their day.
She gazes at me between her bushes of territory, her look of that connection that loving pets have, this is home and life is good.
When the time is right, she lets me know when its time for her to receive her breakfast.
We step back up the stairs, into our house, I feed her, then begin preparing for my day at work as she gives me a disappointed look and reminds me, she has the track ball, bird on string, and other games that have no possible equal of fun and importance outside of those doors.
As I step into my car, then turn onto the street,
Its difficult to find an argument with her.
8th and Massachusettes has been a “layover” spot for me for a number of months now.
Its also a rather permanent tent encampment.
There are a few RV’s, trucks with campers, and a dozen or more tents.
All in various and continuous states of decline.
There are early mornings I drive by and see a few sitting by a fire or “rough made” BBQ making their meal or coffee but sightings of people there are rare.
The evidence by their comings and goings is evidenced by their garbage and their constant addition of “stuff” broken furniture, lawnmowers, various metal and wood objects, things that make no sense to me, as it seems there is effort at carrying this stuff to the location for no reason at all except for the possibility that it makes a fence around their dwellings, a trip hazard, or lose definition of their space.
Garbage begins to fill in between the spaces of the objects, paper, unwashed clothes, food wrapping, boxes.
The height of this “fence” begins to equal the height of the tent.
One of the RV’s is in rough decline, it started out ok, then windows break, panels fall, tires leak then go flat, the garbage and collection of stuff around it gather high. They have a BBQ, a pit bull, a rough looking guy,
whose bones seem stiff, he is grey with white spots, big barrel chest, skinny legs, his demeaner is somewhat attached as he watches the humans sit, there is a collection of dog food cans, I see him pee on the fence behind the RV, his collection of feces piles around the garbage.
He makes his way around the perimeter, sniffs, on guard as he seems to know its his job to keep a look out, be ready.
I am confident, that whatever the humans do not notice, he does.
Tarps will stretch across multiples of these homes, there are walkways inside and under these tarps ties to the garbage and collections of stuff.
Seagulls, Crows, Rabbits who keep wary of the dogs, Rats I see often scamper from one point to another.
There is a woman I guess to be in her 30s that lives in one of the better kept RV’s, she has found a business across the corner of her parked home has left their spicket available. She access this water for filling cooking pots, general water for drinking and cleaning.
She drops her gray sweatpants relieves herself as she leans against the building. A rat makes a rush for her grocery bag she leans to her left, picks up a rock and is able to hit the bag, the rat darts away, she pulls up her pants, her dirty white t shirt is sweat soaked and no bra.
A man riding one of the red rent a bikes rides begins to ride by, he is gliding a rent a scooter in his hand as he drives by and says something to her, she flips him off.
A small unhealthy-looking Rat makes a run across the intersection, a dirty brown grey gull dives on it, they fight, the gull picks it up in its beak and shakes it dead, two other gulls, a bright white one and a dirty grey one fight the hunter for its meal. They tear at the Rat, but the hunter makes off with the Rat in its mouth while its tail dangles out of its beak.
The woman with the grey sweatpants opens the door to her RV, a can falls out, she kicks it under the RV, then steps up, closes the door behind her.
I begin my route again heading to Northgate.
It’s a busy day, more people than usual for our “covid period”
I hear an older male voice talking to another passenger about what a great looking dog she has and is it ok to pet?
“Yes! Please do… he loves to say hi, they begin talking, her stop is next and she exits.
He starts talking to me about his dog. A dog he lost 4 months ago,
She was the best dog in my life, tells me stories of how he got her at a rescue kennel when she was maybe 9 months old. She always went to work with him at his Martial Arts Studio where he was a sensei.
They ran together, vacationed together and had a bond that the special pet of a lifetime gives you,
He was hit by a car, it ended his career and he was homebound for an extended period of time.
“She was everything to me, she was home.”
He started crying, bawling, “I’m so sorry he said.”
Sir, I understand, let it out, its ok, I’ve had that special pet, I know what your going through. Its really ok,
“She saved me once, she didn’t have too”
“I was downtown, it was late, my back was turned on a group of guys, and one reached out to mug me with a knife.
Before I could knock him down,
She grabbed his arm then tore into him, he stabbed her down her side, she needed 25 stitches and almost didn’t make it.
She was so gentle to the vet, as she laid on the table, she licked his hand as he cleaned her, she was always so sweet, I had no idea she was a fighter until she did that.”
Wow, I said, she really sounds amazing to me,
At the next stop, his hand appeared under my covid clear plexi shield and showed me a picture of her, she was a beautiful brown and white, blue healer, sitting proudly next to her sensei.
He told me more about her, he cried some more, saying, he hadn’t cried since she passed and again, he was so sorry.
We arrived at his stop, he asked me, “do you mind if I step off the front, I don’t want people seeing me like this”……
Of course sir, take care of yourself,
He silently stepped off, he was older than I first thought, may have been 80, dressed in black, black baseball hat, dark sunglasses, his skin stark white, he looked smaller than his voice, he leaned on the brick building and was breathing deep as I pulled away.
It took me a few minutes to recover my breath,
I thought of my previous cat and how long it took to get over her.
I thought of Sheba, and how she greets me when I get home.
Laying on the floor, stretched out, belly open waiting for a gentle rub, her ears perked, her eyes gazing at me with praise that I am home again
And its time for a walk in the garden with her, sit listen to the birds,
Then time for her to receive her dinner.
I will be home.