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Cleo's Voice

Your meow is like a bird, chirping out a question, continuously relating it's presence in an unfamiliar surrounding, just on it's initial absence from the warmth of it's mother and comfort of it's nest;
It's like a pleading child in a darkened alley, knowing it is not in it's proper place, yet unsure how to voice a need for help;
It's like a child in school, who is sure of where he is, yet unsure of drawing attention to itself, or of what response it will receive from the authority figure;
Your meow is like a sob released from one gone from innocence to a knowledge of the darkness in the world;
Like a cry of loneliness, being forgotten, a beggar on the street feeling lower than the rest of his environment;
Like a flickering light placed in an improperly wired outlet, yearning for the juice of life;
...or a failing battery source, giving only intermittent purps...
a combined peep and burb;
It is, as I know, a call for attention, as a question; questioning what have I done or not done that leaves me lonely or lacking your attention;
It's like a cry and query of wanting confirmation of my love, and desire to have you at all.

I was alone, trying to deal with the variouis nuances of people around me, unsuccessfully finding a nutruring soul. Then a lady called asking if I'd like a cat. She found you amongst a group of kittens that were probably the result of an apartment complex going "no-pets". Dark brown enough to appear black, feline-leukemia positive, you were so much skin and bones when you arrived at my door. Furtively you explored your new surroundings. And I let you be, free to become accustomed to your new home. I knew it would be a while before you and I developed a meaningful relationship. Happiness sprung joyously forward when you began to sleep at my head when I lay down for the night. You'd be up, and your movements would wake me. Each day you looked up at me, followed me into the kitchen for your daily breakfast. You were aptly named by my friend. For when you lay, so regal in your splendor, tail straight behind, head held high paws out in front, you remind me of a Sphinx of old Egyptian time. You walk the manor as a queen in her realm, Cleo, ruling and controlling the various other cats I've boarded for friends, or considered for your playmate. You still rule, yet have accepted the fact that Xcerche is here to stay. You've even taught him some of the acceptable actions I will allow and look on with that "uh-oh" expression when he's about to get in trouble. It was kind of you to signal your acceptance and somewhat reluctant approval to share your kingdom. I had to dash for my camera the first time I saw the two of you lying within a foot of each other, contentedly sleeping. You still determine the rules, though: who sleeps on what part of the bed, who gets to lay with me on the couch when I relax and watch TV, etc.

I'm glad I listened to myself and not my so-called friends who said not to worry, you wouldn't jump from the window, us being so high up on the sixth floor. I didn't mind the stuffy summer and only able to open the windows where I had nailed cloth across. Now we have screens (joyous smile)!! Isn't that nice (smile)? Now you guys can be in a cool breeze, huh? And I'm so glad you are turning out not to be jealous of Xcerche. I received you both from the streets. But you know that Xcerche was abandoned by a bunch of drug addits. And his teeth, oh, his teeth. So glad I coud get them fixed. But I'm still worried about that stange hump in his back...I bet he was really abused. That's why I'm so glad he liikes to cuddle right up next to me when I sleep in my semi-fetal positiion. I'm glad you're not jealous, Cleo.

I'M HOME!! Hmm-mm-m-m-mmm. Usually at least one of you meets me at the door. ....Oh, damn!...I knew it. .....I'll be right back guys. They gave me the wrong video in the right box.

Whew! Boy am I tired. It's 7:00pm... WHEW!...Hi guys. NOW I'm home. Guess what, you guys where the topic of my piece in the writing workshop today. ... Neat, huh Cleo?

.....hal.....

Oh there you are! It must have been hotter today than I fugured. That's usually the only time you sleep in the closet Xcerche. Sure glad I unintentionally left it open for you.

.....HAL!.....

Hmmm! What am I gong to eat tonight? .... What do I feel like even fixing tonight?.....All I really want to do is just sit down and take a few pain meds. ..... Ah-h-h-h-h! ... That feels good. ... Maybe I'll take both the Tylenol #3 and the valium. ... yeah....that'll do it.

HAL!...What are you doing, HAL?....Open the podbay doors, HAL!...

I wish there were podbay doors sometimes, you know..... And I had parachutes and we'd just open them up and bail out. Yes, you know that Xcerche would have to come too!

...HAL!...


     Who will miss whom first?.....

Just so the reader can be aware. I don't actually talk to my cats this way, out loud at least that is. I sometimes say things like "What are you doing up there?", "Hi ba-a-a-by", "Hmmmmm, yeah, that feels good, huh?", especially whan I'm scratching their chest, neck, rubbing their ears, etc. Cleo-- I can get her to drool sometimes if I do it enough. However, I have supplanted or used a case of transference in regards to my babies. --- I've had such rotten luck with being too open, gullible, caring, and such, and consequently taken advantage of by so-o-o-- many people in the past. My cats take the place of lover, friend, confidant, family, support group (emothinal and mental). When I'm totally wiped-out from dealing with life, they're there for me to just hold, caress, and cuddle. They instinctively sense my mood, don't ask much in return, and receive my love unendingly. Mentally, when trying to get my head unstuck, or rather my mind, I can direct my thoughts toward them.

     Who will miss whom first?.....

They act as my conscious. When the place is a bit messy, they avoid the messy area, telling me I've neglected another duty? they cut down on my cigarette smoking...Xcerche gives me the funniest look, does a double-take, and then jumps away when I light up a cig...seeming to say "What?!?!?!? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ... bye. They monitor my activities while in the apartment, and come out to check and remind me that I really should be getting some sleep now. cleo will most nights do a walk-around check of the apartment before she'll go to sleep.

They are infected with the feline-leukemia, and I'm infected with HIV.. We all three have to keep up our nourishment, water intake, keep warm when the temperature makes a sudden drop, and avoid the smoggy-hot conditions. They, we, are an extension of each other. Cleo personifies my lone-wolf, independent side, while Xcerche exemplifies my need for love and attention. Cleo is black (well, so dark brown as to appear black) while Xcerche is a tan siamese-Tabby mix. I mean, they're a simile and sorta self-portrait or reflection of my life. (Now, if they 'd just keep being friends, they'll even encompass my philosophy on non-discrimination in choosing friends and acquaintances).

     Who will miss whom first?.....

Tuesday, Cleo and Xcerche had to go to the vet. Neither had been eating or drinking much water for over a week. The litter-box had not required cleaning for over a week. And they slept much-too-much, even for cats. My thought was, from their reactions to cigarette smoke, the smoke from the recent firestorms was causing their unusual behaviour. When the coughing, semi-choking, vomiting of spit, and my APLA buddy noticing they seemed to have lost weight,
.....well.....


It's lonely around here. I'm often close to tears. .....O-h-h-h-h God..... I'll call tonight again, and each night until they're back, to check on how they're doing. .....O-h-h-h-h!...I'M...NOT....READY....for this. .....Naw..... They'll be o.k......
......(meekly) ....i...hope....

     Who will miss whom first?.....


Your meow is like a bird, Cleo, chiping out a question, continuously relating it's presence in an unfamiliar surrounding, just on it's initial absence from the warmth of it's mother and comfort of it's nest.....(solemn).....or is it like a fleeting memory?

Xcerche?......Your meow has grown weaker and waker over the last week til it's finally only to smaking your lips soundlessly........



WHO WILL MISS WHO FIRST?

EPILOGUE:

It was a Tuessday, November the 2nd, when Scott came to pick us up (my babies and me). We got a little bit interested in the televised reports on the current fires. Before we left for the vets, I finally got some pictures of Xcerche, Cleo and me together on the chair. I've been trying to get someone to do that for so-o-o-o long. I've got plenty of pictures of them together and by themselves. after the exam, I left them over at the vets. They put them inn the same cage to keep each other company, and I was to call back the next day, Wednesday, around 6:00pm to check on what the test showed and how they were doing. The vet would be in later today, staying until 4:00 in the morning. Then the staff would come on around 800am. He'd be back in on Wednesday by 6:00pm.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 1993, about 7:00am:................
Cleo Krigger returned to Our Father

Thursday, November 4th, 1993:....After visiting with Xcerche for about half an hour, giving him a tear bath in the process; afterretrieving Cleo's collar and tag from his neck where they had placed it for safe-keeping, and after returning Xcerche to his cage..........

I said my hearftelt prayer over Cleo's shell.......
and sent her spirit on............with Love.

Friday, November 12, I received a call from the vet's. I left my house, the bus was right there. I got to my transfer point, the bus was right there. I arrived at the clinic at 6:00pm.


Friday, November 12th, 1993. At 5:58pm:............
      Xcerche bated his last breath; ..........
Taking his final, restful sleep. Sleep well, my Love.

....Cleo, Xcerche....I miss you.

------Eric B. Krigger
I'll never have another cat, ....promise.



Blue Graphic dividing Line


This was something written initially in response to a writing assignment in a writing class I was taking @ the time. Eventually, it was also publishedin locally in "Animal Press" --- vol 7, #8; August 1994

Along with it was a piece that was initially sent to me by the staff of P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Wonderful Support), a local HIV-service agency committed to keeping pets with their HIV/AIDS infected owners. I include this piece here also as it greatly comforted me during this pressing time.


Blue Graphic dividing Line



blue graphic dividing line


An earthquake hit Los Angeles two months after my babies passed. As it stands, I would not have been able to care for them during the time I was missplaced. Although I am sure I would have found a way. Eventually, in 1994, I accepted two more kitties, one from the same friend, one from the local pound. Her litter had been placed succcessfully, but they could not get anyone to adopt her. When I went to see her, looking up @ me from her cage, those beautifully loving eyes.....well.....I now have Madam Sachiere (Sasha), a (now) fat Tortoise Shell & Lady Tippington (Tippi), a black domestic with only the tip of her tail white when she first came here; both going on six years old. I love them both & am sure Cleo & Xcerche both approve.



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