Kitty is gone. Just when I dared claim her as ours, laying in a supply of quality dry food in a newly purchased dispensing container and stacking small cans of once-a-week treats of salmon or tuna, this semi-feral (or maybe semi-tamed) cat skipped a few days at her feeding station. For a few weeks, she showed up predictably every other day, ravenous, demanding immediate (and large) rations of cat chow in long yowls, adding a half-demand that she would also consider bread soaked in gravy or leftover scrambled eggs.

Then she missed two days and, in two more weeks, the days of absence grew to three or four at a time. When we hadn’t seen her for a month, she appeared on Mom’s porch one morning for breakfast. Mom says she acted as if she had never left, her meows almost understandable English and rubbing so close that Mom thought she could feel the electricity in her calico fur. I didn’t see her.

The last appearing was months ago now, maybe three—or two. We all miss her here at the compound.

Where did she go? I asked. Why did she run away? Didn’t she know she was our Kitty?

Maybe she’ll come back, just as she did after her 2010 to 2011 furlough, a whole year. We thought she had passed on to cat heaven until she announced her re-arrival one spring day, sitting regally on the feeding station as if to say “Ho, Subjects. I’m back. Come and approach—with goodies.”

Maybe she will return to us. I have to believe I will see her again, the ungrateful little hussy.

On Thursday before Easter, I was the victim of a hit-and-run vehicle accident at the corner of a well-known thoroughfare and side street just two minutes from the ravine. No one was injured, but it did hurt me that the guy ran. First he ran the light, and then he ran away.

I called to him from the gas station lot where I parked and climbed out of the van, expecting him to follow me by the signs he offered in the middle of the street. Instead of pulling in behind me, he swerved out across the street and parked just outside the beer store in a small strip center.

“Hey!” I yelled, running across the lot. “Come here.”

I waved him my direction. “Venga aqui,” I said as he inspected the damage to the left corner of his car.

He heard me. He jumped in the dark blue compact and sped off, heading north.

Of all days to leave my phone at home. I traipsed inside the market and asked the handsome young clerk if I could borrow a telephone. He handed me his cell phone and I called Dave and the police, in that order. Neither the clerk nor I could remember the non-emergency phone number for Metro Police. Any other time I know it, but right then, I just didn’t.

I did not get a license number. “I can’t see that far,” I told the officer.

“Make and model?” he asked.

“No, but it was very dark blue and small and older and it sloped down on both ends.”

“Huh,” he answered, paused, and then looked up. “You know we’re not going to catch him.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you get a good look at him?”

“Oh, yeah. We were up close and personal, looking at each other through the windows, his left corner into my left corner.”

“So…?”

“He was Hispanic. Short, stocky. I mean, I noticed that when he got out of the car across the street. I’m sorry…He was Hispanic.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. You’re the victim here,” he said.

“I know. But I know these people and…” I stopped, and then admitted to my stereotyping habit. “They can’t drive. My Hispanic friends here on this road cannot drive.”

“No, God love ‘em,” he said, “Most of them didn’t drive at home. Then they come here and they get a car and somehow they suddenly know how to drive.”

“And it’s possible he didn’t have insurance,” I added to the conversation.

“Probably no insurance, no driver’s license. He was scared. They’re scared.”

I nodded.

“I love ‘em,” he said. “I couldn’t work over here if I didn’t. Let me fill out this report for you. Why don’t you go ahead and get me your license and registration and insurance card.”

As I shuffled through the glove compartment, he told me that my uninsured motorist’s insurance would kick in and get my vehicle all fixed up, said the whole repair and recovery process might go more smoothly without catching the perpetrator.

“So maybe he did me a favor by running?”

The officer shrugged. “Well, that probably wasn’t the reason but…”

We took the van in for repairs on Monday and picked up a rental just a block from the auto body shop. They say it will be ready—with a new bumper—on Thursday this week. Dave dropped off a new front license plate cover to replace the cracked one over my Elvis plate. Our old gold Mazda MPV will look like new.

I don’t see any reason that Kitty should leave. She had it made. She had a warm place to sleep. She got fed and talked to—by two families. Maybe it was just too confusing for her or, as my cat-knowledgeable friend told me, maybe she had lovers in other places—real lovers. We won’t ever know why she ran.

I see the reasons that the guy took off; it’s a short list.

I’m glad he ran, but I wish he didn’t have to.

***

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