Two Cats in the Nighttime

Jack Swain, staff writer

Enter the scene: two vivacious, rapscallious alley cats descend a long brick staircase, old and worn, full of new-growth weeds and dandelions, finding their way among the cracks, surviving on just enough, simply being there, no clear purpose or destiny or motivations, just soaking it all in, good-for-nothing, like two red velvet arms of a great velvet arm-chair in the off-season mansion of some bumptious marauder-type ex-socialite (perhaps a widower, if I’m feeling melodramatic), really just being there, together, minding their own business, going by generally unnoticed and happenstantial. The two cats walked side by side, slowly, with grace, yet at the same time with purpose, with intention, like the way an old bullfighter might walk if he were making his way down the street, one foot in front of the other. The cats walked on. Their paws landing softly on the ground, steady like the beating of the heart of a young sailor, rising to greet the morning winds, sun in his eyes as he looks due East, back to his childhood and life he left behind, emotions caught in his throat, yet adventure pounding in his chest, and with that intimately more sacred, more human feeling, the curiosity, the drive, the intensity, the persistent silent symphony of the wings of the snow owl on her silent nightly affairs. The two cats turned a corner. The wind picked up and died down, as it does on nights like this, with the moon glowing behind a cloud. The cats reached their destination–a small opening at the foot of a larger tree. They entered. Darkness overtook them. They slunk through the small tunnel, which lead into a larger one, and into one larger still, until they were in a sunken cavern, cool and reverberant. The cats continued to walk. The darkness of the walls rose around them, like it does for all of us, lying in our beds at night, listening to cars passing by, watching headlight beams move across the wall, spending time quietly with our thoughts, reflecting on the day, days past, and days yet-to-come, breathing in-and-out slowly, slowly. Needing nothing, a glass of water by the bedside. The cats were almost there now, to the center of the room. They slowed down slightly, as one does when one is excited. Step after step, they finally arrived. The stood there, in the darkness, completely alone, bodies like two dew drops on a lily pad. Simply to be there was enough. The cats turned and faced one another. They looked into each other’s eyes. Leaning forward, slowly, with great care, they came together–and in a moment of grace and lightness, they rubbed their noses together.