We have two cats, and one is limping.

Like he doesn't know something happened tonight.

Like he doesn’t know something happened tonight.

Elliott. He goes out, or lets himself out, almost every night. There’s some version of the MMA, or Fight Club, in our neighborhood. He shows up in the morning with puncture marks in his neck, chunks chewed out of his chin, ear wounds, and other signs of combat. We sympathize when he arrives for breakfast.

Thing is, it’s pretty clear he’s the Mike Tyson of Elsinboro. He’s never remotely afraid to go out again. Which he does. Day after day after day. We can’t stop him. Once he gets into the garage, he can go wherever he wants. Part of our complicated life.

But right now he’s limping. Still trying to go out, mind, but since we took Izzie away, he returned to his earliest source of comfort, namely me. His tree trunk paws have been on me all night. He will stop limping. Trust me. Not going to die soon. He absolutely rules the feline Octagon of Elsinboro. But tonight he needs his daddy, which is funny.

This won’t surprise anybody. We’ve been through hell the past two weeks. Condolences from my wife’s family have poured in. To her. If anybody asked, or anybody told, they’d learn there would be no Mickey presence, no Pmith presence, no Izzie at all without me. And, come to think of it, no me. And as for Raebert, they’d mostly prefer he didn’t exist. But it’s easier to see me as an accomplice rather than a prime mover. They’re so intimidated by her they can’t imagine what it would be like to deal with me directly. But nobody says anything.

I’m sorry. Thinking some pushback would be nice. But WTF. I’m the hardest, meanest guy in the arena.

Why Elliott has insisted from the first, despite my tepid response to his adoption, that I am the one he has to lay paws on when he is in distress. My wife thinks he’s ungrateful. To her, the one who saw him in the window and had to have him. I didn’t have to have him. He just decided I was his guy. Now, I think he’s the toughest MMA cat fighter for a full square mile. Which I love him for.

Anybody want to trade? On this night of all nights?

Elliott is missing Izzie too. He’s exhausted. And so is the Big Guy. But Elliott, like me, will live to fight another day.

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