ell, well, well. I thought the entire family had, ahem, moved away. Their house had been demolished several years ago. I hadn't forgotten them. I remember every person I met on this street, and I bought the digs here during a crack epidemic, so I've met and lost track of hundreds and hundreds of people. Didn't mean to give the impression I do crack. Huh-uh. Never. Niente. Zito. Not a crumb. I'm frugal, that's all, and nothing makes real estate affordable like the crack trade. I love it.
Speaking of not using hard drugs in a blighted and otherwise livable slum, Ramon's family moved away when the their house was demolished. No surprise, it had been condemned a decade earlier, but stood onward, in decline, till the grim ploughman came and bulldozed the lot.
Ten years is a lot of generations of kittens. More kittens, and more cats, than people. For ten years, and it was my ten years as well as theirs (thank you, thank you, thank you), first Ramon, and then his extended family. The relationship gave me kinship to Ramon and his family, it was reciprocal, an accident of proximity, and proof that cats socialize independent of all cultural norms. They are Superbeings. It's something the Egyptians were right about. And I would not have known anything had it not been for my now late, forever loved cat, Noodles. Noodles (sleek, calico, adorable beyond ordinary) gave up the ghost back in '14, and the last I saw of Ramon had been long before that.
Noodles began meeting with Ramon on my front porch in 2005. It was a productive year for me. I had gone gonzo on the internet. The house down the street was obviously a cat house, but I've known other cat houses. They are not always convivial. Almost never. Would you expect a roving band of drunken carnies to welcome you into their rusting conversion van in a Walmart parking lot? Jesus sakes. They don't know you from Ted Fucking Bundy. Summer afternoons I would work at the keyboard in the front room, often overhearing Ramon and Noodles talk shop on the porch, the door open, the two cats at liberty to come in or out as either or both cats wish. As Ramon began conversing with me, I was taken over with the way a cat can be both handsome and rugged while retaining sensibilities. The jagged scar along the side of his face reminded me that hardship is only ugly when one is defeated by it, and this was too far from the case to be anything but inspirational. Hardship leads us to focus on the pleasures we are at liberty to share.
I'd assumed that Ramon had passed away. Heavens, he and his re-camped just two blocks opposite, on the parallel crumbling, winding mountain road. I was out hiking, and there they were, out front, sharing a dead woodchuck. Everything's just fine. They found a disused submerged garage to call home. It will be generations, in human years, before the city demolishes it!
The chance meeting made my tired blood turn a brighter red. Ramon must use an oxygen tank, he suffers from COPD, for his many years of heavy smoking, tee-hee, he and I both, tobacco and you know what, no crack, just the stuff La Cucaracha went for. The stuff everyone was using around the time New Riders of The Purple Sage were popular. The hippy shit. It was one of many things Ramon and I had in common. Music and that stuff. And we still do. There have been many changes among his many furry relatives. I have nothing but time with which to catch up. A new man now that I have returned to feral cats. I had forgotten that cats are enlivening. Radiant gratitude!