The cats with bonnets and their post-traumatic stress


The cats with bonnets return from their missions

Just in time, I say. And I want them to tell me what they’ve done, what they’ve seen. I want to hear what’s happening in the parts of the world that I’m not looking at. Are trees falling, I ask. Are trees falling everywhere? But the cats won’t answer. They lick their paws and adjust their bonnets and go to sleep. They sleep in quiet, perfect rows. Some of them purr while they sleep and some do not. Some twitch and flick their paws out as though they’re grabbing at something and some do not.


Some of the cats in bonnets do not wake up

I shake them and pet them and beg them to wake. I untie their bonnets in case the bonnets were too tight and it was cutting off circulation. I’ve heard circulation can be very important and a lack of it can kill or cause extreme discomfort or boredom. Are you bored, I ask, but the cats will not wake.


I pile the sleeping cats in the closet where I cannot see them

If I cannot see them, I do not have to think about them. And if I spend long enough not thinking about them, they will cease to exist. This has always been the way with such matters. I have piled many things in my closet, but the closet is forever empty and I am forever not thinking about some specific thing.


Post-traumatic stress

The cats that wake up never sleep again. I do not know if they are afraid of the not waking and being piled in the closet or if there is some other cause. I have a diagnostic specialist examine the cats. Each cat. And slowly. The diagnostic specialist holds each cat and rubs the cat’s face on his face. He whispers into the cats’ ears and the cats whisper into his ear. It is the feeling of being left out. It is the feeling of not being chosen. It is the feeling of I don’t know and maybe I will never know.

But finally the diagnostic specialist puts the cats away and says, post-traumatic stress.

What, I ask, but the diagnostic specialist will only nod his head and repeat, post-traumatic stress. And he leaves saying, I can be not part of this, I can have no blame in this, this is not a thing I am comfortable managing.

And I am left alone to manage the cats’ post-traumatic stress.


I worry about cures

I worry about what kind of cures and cures for what? How do I cure a thing I do not understand? I worry about what caused the cats’ post-traumatic stress. I worry that I cannot guess. But I know that a guessing is the only way because they will not answer me and the diagnostic specialist has gone away, maybe forever, but certainly for now and this is a thing that must be dealt with if I am to proceed happily.


The bayonet cure

I buy a bayonet and chase the cats around the house and into the yard. I stab at them, barely missing and sink the bayonet into the ground. I pry it from the earth and chase them, waiting to see which cat will be the first cat to tire. It takes hours, but finally one of the heavier cats quits running, crouches against the ground and looks back at me. I rear back and propel the bayonet toward the cat, shifting the bayonets weight at the last second, so I sink its tip into the earth beside the cat.

In those moments there was no look of recognition in the cat’s eyes. There was no knowing or peace or understanding. There was no horror that suggested a horror other than for one’s life.

So, it wasn’t bayonets.


The grandmother cure

I collect every grandmother I can find even though some of them swear they are not grandmothers and have never been grandmothers. It is easy to say such a thing, so I do not take their words for it and I drag each of the elderly women back to my house. They crowd into the living room and begin to make cooing noises. Their feeble hands shake and they pick up the cats. Hold the cats. They crawl on hands and knees and talk to the cats in high-pitched voices. Always, the reaching for cats. The cuddling. The cooing.

The cats look pleased. Until the grandmothers take it steps further. Several steps further, but I am not sure how many steps exactly that is. They peel the fur from the cats. The cats cry and struggle to get away, but these women are precise. These women are experienced. They hold the cats in their arms, furless, and nuzzle their little heads. Purr, the women urge the cats, but the cats will not purr. Purr, the women demand, but the cats refuse.

The women leave with the cats. I try to stop them, but the women are strong. They must have garnered strength through life experience. Stop, I say, but they walk hard and I can do nothing.  

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