Even the driver has a half cat

Standing out in the darkness before 6 a.m., one’s attention turns to the coyotes howling and yipping, their noises slicing through the fir trees to where I’m standing next to the road, waiting for the bus.

Immediately I start thinking of dead cats and berate myself for being so macabre. Besides, it’s scary thinking of coyotes and dead cats when the stars are still shining and the trees seem to be stalking the person waiting for the bus. Nevertheless, I think of all the half-cats found in Oak Harbor and the stories this newspaper has printed about them, and the resulting notoriety for Oak Harbor spread throughout the known universe by TV and radio.

The Island Transit bus rolls to a halt and I’m relieved, there’s finally something to distract me from my dead cat thoughts. “Hi,” I say. “Nice morning, but lots of coyotes yelling.”

Imagine my surprise when the bus driver says coyotes - or something - killed his cat. Sliced it clean in two. Seemed awfully neat for a coyote. Maybe there’s something to the theory that a twisted person is doing it or -- nervous laughter - an alien.

Thus begins a full week of dead cat thoughts, because before long one of my loyal readers stops by to say he found a cat head - even less than the half cat that most people are finding. He shows me the cat head, neatly tucked inside a Ziploc bag. It looks relaxed, eyes closed, but just a head, like that of the fading cheshire cat. Keep it, the generous man says, it’s yours.

I stick the cat head under the metal lid of the company barbecue outside my office. I show it to the reporter assigned to the mutilated cat stories, and pretty soon the barbecue is a big tourist attraction. Everybody wants to see the cat head.

Before long I’m told a local vet wants to examine the cat head so I am nominated to take the head to the vet’s. I place the Ziploc bag inside a small Minolta copy machine toner box. This way nobody will see me walking around with a cat head.

The vet’s office is not expecting me, which is unexpected. Four young ladies behind the counter looked at me and my box, as does the young woman holding a baby as she waits to be helped. They ask what’s in the box. Why, it’s a cat. A cat? In such a little box? Well, it’s part of a cat. Part? What part! The...ummm...the head. The women gasp collectively, the mother pulls her baby protectively to her breast, and I’m stereotyped as a cat killing freak.

One of the clerks acts like any good bureaucrat in an emergency. She hands me a form. Wants to know my name, address, what kind of pet I have, and what seems to be the pet’s problem. Well, I know a vet might have trouble figuring out what the problem is when a cat has a hairball, but I don’t think he needs a form to tell him the cat’s body is missing. Besides, I’m tired of all the women staring at me, edging toward their cell phones and 911. I leave, but not before setting the Minolta box on the counter.

The vet apparently left town so I’ll have to wait for his opinion on what separated the cat’s head from its body so neatly. I just hope I’m not a suspect.

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