Smith Hill Chronicles
Warning! This was written as a sort of "Catharsis" for me. It is very painful to read. Please, don't think less of me...
I killed my cat
Tripper was a special cat. He came to me out of the woods behind my house in the country outside Claxton Ga. I heard the sounds of a cat crying, and called and coaxed until he hesitantly came to me. He was a yellow Tabby with blue, slightly crossed eyes, and he had SIX TOES on both his front feet! Hence the name, Tripper, since it looked like he would “trip” over those extra toes. The Vet said it was called being “Polydactyl”. I like that.
Tripper was very laid back, and took a long time to fully warm up to me, which in itself was very strange, as I am a “cat person” and cats always love me quickly. Tripper became part of my “family” along with “Smokey” a large, solid gray cat I had had for several years. Smokey was neutered; Tripper was not.
His arrival was during the onset of my downward spiral in life. I was drinking more and more, and spending just about everything on drugs.
I had gotten ownership of the house I grew up in, but was not keeping up with the payments. So, I sold the house, and eventually moved into the Claxton Housing Authority; the “Housing Projects”. Of course, both cats went with me.
I worked in Maintenance at the HA, and had a one bedroom apartment. I was still drinking and drugging, and after about 1 ½ yrs, I was evicted. I got a “job” working as the maintenance man for a “trailer park” across from Winn Dixie. I had an apartment there, but the rent was not included, and was very high, considering the condition it was in. In only about six months, I was evicted there as well. As always, the cats went with me.
Now you must understand; all during this time, I had Food Stamps, which would not buy “cat food”, but would buy things that both the cats and I would eat. Due to the nature of my addiction, I didn’t eat a lot, but I always made sure that the cats had food. Throughout this time in my life, the cats were the ONLY thread of continuity, the only thing that gave me a sense of "home" and "belonging" wherever I happened to be living at the time.
So, after this last eviction, I found a derelict trailer (mobile home) on the OTHER side of Winn Dixie from where I was being evicted. It had no electricity, no water, and SOME furniture. I got my meager belongings moved in just as dark fell, on the night the first snowfall in a few years began. That was a miserable night.
Tripper, not being neutered, would, as all male cats are wont to do, leave and be gone for days, sometimes weeks at a time. It was during one of these “extended absences “that I was evicted, but what was I to do? I HAD to go! Miracles of miracles, Tripper found me in the new “house” about a week after I had moved.
I did work occasionally, here and there, and managed to get the power and water turned on. There were so many leaks in the trailer that I couldn’t leave the water on to the whole trailer. I installed a faucet on the OUTSIDE of the trailer, and would fill 5 Gal. buckets of water; one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom. When it was warm enough, I would bathe under the garden hose, behind the trailer. When it was too cold for that, I would go to the bathroom in Winn Dixie, and bathe at the sink. I spent a lot of time at WD; since I had no refrigerator, I had to buy what the cats and I could eat every day or so.
When Tripper came back from one of his “extended absences”, he was hurt...bad. He had come home beat up quite a few times, but with a little, sometimes a lot, of TLC, he recovered. This time, he appeared to have been hit by a car, and couldn’t move his back end, and seemed to be in a lot of pain. The other cat, Smokey, would stay up on top of whatever furniture he could to escape the fleas, but Tripper did not have this avenue of escape. I certainly couldn’t afford things like flea powder, of flea collars, and I CERTAINLY couldn’t afford a trip to the Vet.
After about a week of nursing him and watching him suffer, on a stormy, rainy Saturday night, I decided I couldn’t let him continue this way. I had been drinking all day, not enough to pass out, or black out (God HELP me, I wish I didn’t remember this). I had no gun, no poison. The only thing I could think of that would be quick and (I hoped) relatively painless, was to “wring his neck” sort of like you do a chicken. Only he weighed about 12 lbs.
It was storming terribly outside. I couldn’t go out in the dark and rain. I picked him up, cradled him in my arms, crying desperately, and said my goodbyes. I took him to the back door because there wasn’t room inside to do what I had in mind, and quickly, grabbed him just around the base of his skull, and spun him around with all the strength I could muster. He struggled at first, and after about a dozen swings around, I figured that his spine had separated. I stopped spinning, and brought him to me. He was still alive, eyes wide open and wild with fear and confusion! NOW What was I going to do? I cradled him once more as you would a baby, and crying fiercely, I pressed against his windpipe until he was limp. I was DESTITUTE! Anguish wracked my very soul! I had just killed something I loved dearly, that trusted me. WITH MY BARE HANDS!
I took a handful of Tylenol PM’s hoping I wouldn’t wake up. I had put Tripper’s body in a cardboard box. I woke up sometime later, and the rain had stopped. I went to check, I guess hoping that it was all a VERY bad dream. It wasn’t. Tripper’s body was cold and stiff already, only now, the fleas, not liking a cold body, were crawling all over him, trying to escape. I put the box outside until daylight, when I went across the road, borrowed a shovel, and buried him. On the way to return the shovel, Edward Oglesby, the Chief of Police, who was on his way to Church, made a U-turn to see what I was doing with a shovel that early on a Sunday morning.
Three days later, I was offered my old job back at the Housing Authority, which I took, of course. If I had just waited a few days more, I would have been able to take Tripper to the Vet to either get treated, or be put to sleep. How could I have known?
After almost another year of working, but still drinking and drugging to excess, leading to excessive absences and poor work, I was evicted once more. This time, I put myself into a “Christ Based” 12 step rehab program. This one, because I went willingly, began the long road to recovery that I now enjoy. I still had Smokey, and I had to leave him behind, with a friend who promised to care for him and love him. By this time, Smokey was over 10 yrs old. I don't know what happened to him, but I hope he died peacefully, and loved.
I cry when I think about killing my beloved Tripper. I cried while writing this and it has been almost 10 years now. I am crying now…
About the author:
I write poetry, which I hope is inspirational.
I am also a working musician, in that I am an old guy who is still making money working and playing music.
I've been playing now for 51 yrs
These days I mainly play for older folks in Nursing Home, Assisted Living and Retirement Communities, plus the occasional party or wedding.