May 20, 2016

This afternoon Farmer Orville and I sat on his wrap-around front porch and drank Dr. Pepper and enjoyed the cool breezes. Ruby Puppy hunted snakes and Reba ran onto the steps and tried to lick us, her belly reeking of dead carcass. “There is a dead mole in the north pasture,” my friend said. “She’s been rollin’ on it. There are also two fields of ripe strawberries, less one quart which I picked for supper.

The barn was rocking with mother swallows flying in and out the massive doors in search of food for the kiddies, the barn cats sitting on the ground and batting at the birds like they were ping pong balls.

It was a schizophrenic day, up and down, clouds and sun, heat and chill. It has rained so much, frantic lawn mowers mow in patches between cloud bursts. I have joined that select club, and I dutifully if not enthusiastically got behind Old Blade and marched and mowed the front hills.

I saw something move in my peripheral vision—not that unusual in folks who suffer from depression. I often see shades and shapes and tell myself it is okay. This something, though, moved across my field of vision again. It was an animal, low to the ground. I silently swore and took a good look. The creature jumped through my roses then turned and faced me. It was Scout the Cat.

Scout the Cat has never been outside, unless you count me holding her on the front porch and her begging to get back inside. But here she was prancing around and smelling the roses. She had opened the front storm door with a paw and made her debutante’s appearance, and now she was having second thoughts. She had seen me use the latch to open the door, and she discovered that she could rise up on her hind feet, extend her right paw and push the mechanism.

I will never know if she had planned this lam. Was she running away to a source of better cat food, following a modified carnal urge, wanting to eat the dancing hummingbirds that tortured her at their feeder in front of the window, hoping to travel to New York for the funeral of the great “cigarette-and-whisky-voiced” Morley Safer?

I was officially enrolled into Lindenwood University today. It just costs ten thousand bucks, with the senior discount. I have been wavering at the thought of returning to school, where scads of scantily clad coeds wander the quads, and me, I’m the grandpa, the Old Man and the See. I called my old DePaulUniversity advisor, Morrie Fiddler and asked his opinion. “What the fuck are you waiting for,” Morrie said.

Good question. I’ve been waiting for sixty-eight years, or nine cat years. My theory of everything includes the belief that the right woman would appear and walk through my house, that I would be discovered—to hell with a literary agent—rather than showing my stuff around and that God would just step down out of the clouds and shout, “People of Earth!”

That last fanciful bit just might come true as (S)trump(et) struts sassily toward victory with the help of the National Rifle Asses.

After all, pigs didn’t fly, but cats opened doors, ancient mariners signed up for knowledge, and “strawberry fields forever.”



About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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