Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SHE DIED IN MY LAP

We met in Charlotte where we lived, me indoors and she in the woods. I left dried food out for her. Several neighbors did, too. 
Then our manager called a meeting. "Leaving food outside will draw raccoons, and by law, I can't kill a raccoon. Someone has to adopt the cat." In the long-drawn-out silence, I volunteered. 

I drove my little tabby cat to be spayed. 
"What's her name?"
Name? My favorite cookie popped to mind: Snickerdoodle.
"Snickerdoodle! What kind of a name is that?" The agent bent over her paper. "It doesn't even fit the space." But she made it fit, and Snickerdoodle became my cat's name.

Back at home, the phone rang. "Pick up your cat. We can't spay her. She's pregnant." Snicker's second pregnancy, neighbors said.
I postponed my move to Nebraska and gave Snicker the floor of my clothes' closet for her birth quarters. She produced four squalling kittens. I found good homes for all, and still hear from Kay Golden about the kitten she took.

Off to Omaha we went. I bought a big house with a walk-in basement. Soon Snicker shifted a brick to open a long hiding space. "Got to fix that." I knew I couldn't pull her out if she chose to hide there.
Then two plumbers drilled with a jackhammer into my floor only a few feet from Snicker's tunnel hiding spot. Was she in it? I couldn't tell. If so, I couldn't get her out, so the men finished their thunderous job.
The drilling traumatized Snicker. I blocked up her entrance, but the damage remained. The instant the doorbell rings, Snicker, fearing a jackhammer, flees. She'll come out for no one, not even my friends.

The rest of Snicker's life unwound quietly. She liked to talk to me. She bumped Paco's leg encouragingly when he ate salmon. She fled outdoors when she got a chance, but came home. 
Recently, though, at fifteen years old, her life turned nasty. She looked at me, her left lid closed tight. When it opened, her eyeball was black. 
Paco, beloved of Google, said, "Look it up." 
"Look what up?"
"Cat. Black eye."
I snorted, until Paco told me my cat had cancer. Melanoma. That explained Snicker's black eye, her sudden weight loss, her inability to defecate or urinate.
I called Dr. Pete, my visiting vet. He led me to his office-van, sat me on a chair, and put Snicker on my lap. He raised a bottle of blue liquid. "A little will put Snicker to sleep so she won't have to feel her organs close down."
Her head flopped down, Dr. Pete administered a second shot, and Snicker died in my lap.

I went back in the house and thought. "You can sit around moping about this or you can…visit the Nebraska Humane Society. 
I adopted Ruby, a spayed three-year old female, an orange tabby with white boots. She looks nothing like Snicker. She's not tiny; she's long legged, athletic. 
Today I hung a full name on her: Rubyfruit Jungle.
Warm wishes,

Marilyn

Marilyn June Coffey





Wednesday, July 12, 2017

COOKING GOOSE

Hidden FBI cameras rolled as John Cheasty gave Jimmy Hoffa a memo about Dave Beck. "It's enough to cook Beck's goose," Cheasty piped.

Not knowing that the goose to be cooked would be his, Jimmy slipped Cheasty $2,000 cash.

As Jimmy crossed the Dupont Plaza Hotel lobby, five guys, wearing gray suits and wide-brimmed hats, approached him.

"FBI," said one. "You're under arrest."

Jimmy's face tightened. "For what?"

A few men fanned out behind Jimmy. "Just come with us."

"Like hell I will." Jimmy punched the elevator button.

When the five men ringed Jimmy, he threw both hands up. "Goddammit, you want trouble, you can have it. Most of these folks in the lobby are my guys. So go ahead, make a fuckin' fuss, and we'll have one hell of a fight."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

OFF THE DOME


When Jimmy's bribery trial opened June 24 in Washington, DC, Bobby Kennedy felt sure he had bested Jimmy. In fact, Bobby felt so sure he bragged to reporters, "If Hoffa is acquitted, I'll jump off the Capitol dome." 

The trial opened with eight African Americans sitting in the jury box, to no one's surprise. They made up more than half of Washington's population.

Then, on July 15, just before the final session, who should make a surprise appearance in the courtroom but the great former heavyweight Joe Louis.

Jimmy jumped up and greeted the boxing champion as one old friend greets another. "I've come to wish Hoffa well. He's an old friend of mine," Joe lied. The Teamsters had paid him well.

After the "not guilty" verdict came in, the courtroom became a carnival. Someone brought in a cake in the shape of the United States Capitol. The Capitol was topped by a figurine Bobby Kennedy jumping from the dome with a parachute.

"Cake, Bobby?" Jimmy hollered. 

But Bobby, pushing his way out the door, didn't respond.




OFF THE DOME


When Jimmy's bribery trial opened June 24 in Washington, DC, Bobby Kennedy felt sure he had bested Jimmy. In fact, Bobby felt so sure he bragged to reporters, "If Hoffa is acquitted, I'll jump off the Capitol dome." 

The trial opened with eight African Americans sitting in the jury box, to no one's surprise. They made up more than half of Washington's population.

Then, on July 15, just before the final session, who should make a surprise appearance in the courtroom but the great former heavyweight Joe Louis.

Jimmy jumped up and greeted the boxing champion as one old friend greets another. "I've come to wish Hoffa well. He's an old friend of mine," Joe lied. The Teamsters had paid him well.

After the "not guilty" verdict came in, the courtroom became a carnival. Someone brought in a cake in the shape of the United States Capitol. The Capitol was topped by a figurine Bobby Kennedy jumping from the dome with a parachute.

"Cake, Bobby?" Jimmy hollered. 

But Bobby, pushing his way out the door, didn't respond.






Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Out of Step

On June 10, 1952, the US Army Corps of Engineers dedicated its $45-million Harlan County, Nebraska, dam and reservoir. 

The all-day celebration drew ten thousand people from the Republican River valley. 

A huge parade in Alma, Nebraska, my home town, kicked off the celebration. A color guard led eleven bands, twenty-eight floats, a drum and bugle corps, ten saddle clubs, a fire department truck, and a line of massive construction trucks used to build the dam. 

My sister, Margaret, led the Alma High School band. I marched with it and carried a heavy glockenspiel, its bulky keyboard shaped like a lyre. When I hit its steel keys with a mallet, a bright bell-like tone sliced through the air. 

As we neared the end of the hour-long march, I spotted Dad standing in the crowd. Afterward, I scampered to him. "How'd I do?"

"Oh, you were terrific!" A smile played across his face. "Everyone was out of step but you."




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

YOUR PAIN

A favorite poem by my most-frequently-read poet:



ON NOT QUITE FEELING YOUR PAIN

How come your "horrendous"
never feels quite as God-awful
as the simply wretched thing
that happened to happen to me


Does that ring a bell? Let me know.




Thursday, June 8, 2017

IS EVERYBODY OK?


The gooseneck lamp made a pool of light on my desk about 3 a.m., June 5, 1968, when someone pounded on my apartment door.

Tall skinny Bev, my upstairs neighbor, cried, "You've got to come up! They've shot Bobby Kennedy!" 

On Bev's TV, I saw the classic image of that night: Robert Kennedy, dressed in his black campaigning suit, sprawled flat on the kitchen floor, his limbs jutting out as though they didn't belong to him.

"Oh my God!" Bev shook her fist at the TV. "I can't believe this!  Martin Luther King only two months dead, and everywhere, rioting, thousands arrested, and who know how many shot! And now this." 


Bobby, still alive, asked, "Is everybody okay?" Bev reached for a tissue.