After we heard about Roe's "passing," Larry and I headed down to see Mary. Her Boston terrier greeted us at the door in the same way Bubbles, her Boston terrier from 25 or so years ago had, with great excitement and exuberance. It must be the breed. But unlike Bubbles, this dog's tongue hangs from the side of his mouth, something to do with a little too much anesthesia from an episode at the vet's she says.
Mary has always surrounded herself with animals. When the farm was up and running there were always the numerous barn cats. But there were also the privileged few that lived in the big house beside the barn. I remember them being long-haired and quite fat. There was one in particular that especially impressed me, a long-haired orange beauty. I can't remember his name now, but my calico had gone into heat for the first or second time, and she was a hankering. A neighborhood cat named Herc (short for Hercules the Warfle boys told me) was hanging around and I wanted her to have absolutely nothing to do with him. It was obvious that he had lived less than a stellar life (or lives, being a cat and all) and had the many battle scars to prove it. His face looked like it had been pulvarized several times, a bit like Rocky Balboa after each of his big fights. I guarded the front door like a sentry, afraid that my little feline might try to make a break for it while I wasn't watching.
Then I got a wonderful, bright idea. I decided to ask Mary if I could borrow her long-haired orange. If our calico was going to have a family, the children might as well have a cultured, well-behaved father. I called Mary, told her of my plan, and she, always so accomodating, deposited him shortly after. They were both sent to the basement (with food and water of course) and for two or three days that's where they stayed. Thinking back, maybe the basement wasn't the best setting for "romance," but I was convinced that hormones and testosterone would win over. I couldn't have been more wrong. There was a lot of yowling, but not the kind that leads to kittens. Disappointed, I had Mary come and get her cat. In the meantime, I continued to endure my young pet's mournful wails. You can imagine my dismay when she slipped out the front door without detection and met up with Herc, the neighborhood bad boy. She started to "show" a few weeks later. I knew who the daddy was and dreaded to see what kind of babies he had sired. Much to my surprise and delight, however, she presented us with a litter full of some of the most beautiful kittens I had ever seen. The resemblance to their daddy was there, but it was also pretty obvious that before he had taken to the streets, he must have been quite the tom.
Part of a familiar quote from Shakespeare says something about "the best laid plans of mice and men" going awry. We think we have things all worked out, put our plans into motion and then wait for everything to fall perfectly into place. But how often we are disappointed and frustrated because things don't happen as we had hoped. Sometimes there are other forces that work against us. You know, like a cat named Hercules. Sometimes they might even work out for the better.