I still have a little bit of dirt underneith my fingernails from when I pushed the dirt into his grave.
Not Kyle's though.
I watched Chris dig a hole as I huddled, shocked, sitting slumped on the floor by the bedroom window with tears running down my face. I could hear Chris coughing and saw him drop the shovel and bend over as if to get sick. Did he have a cold or did Radley's death make him vomit as it did me?
I sobbed in the shower, choking, getting sick.
I had called for him several times after I had put them both outside at 1:30am. Radley'd been misbehaving. Not sleeping, eating paper, knocking stuff off my desk: the usual. So I got out of bed and opened the back door. Zorba scurried out and I tapped Radley's bottom with my foot shooing him out as well. At some point, I awoke to a cat fight and opened the door to call both Radley and Zorba in. Only Zorba the scaredy cat came racing inside. At 7:30 I called again. I'm so used to Radley sleeping on my legs in the early morning, I wanted to spend the last few hours in bed this Thanksgiving morning snuggling with him. But he didn't come. At 10:30 Chris phoned and woke me up. So I arose and called for Radley again. He didn't come. I went to the front door to call again. A little girl across the street hollered over to me, "Do you have an orange and white cat?"
"Yes." Oh good. His collar must've fallen off, and they thought he was lost, and he's inside their house.
"Someone hit a cat with a car and put it in our yard."
I saw the cat in the grass. Breathe. It's not Radley. I can see from here the colors are too faded.
"Hold on, let me put on some clothes and I'll be over."
Breate. Don't panic. Don't cry. Breathe. Don't panic. Don't panic.
As I approached him though I saw Radley's gentle face. Then I saw the indent around his neck where his collar usually lays. I dropped to my knees as tears began to drop down my face. Oh Radley. I stroked his body. His paws were folded one across the other like he sometimes used to do when he was alive. Poor baby.
"I'm sorry," the little girl said. "We have cats too."
Her mother or aunt came out and gave her condolances and said something about a box.
I looked in his eyes which were still open. Oh Radley. I cupped the end of his tail which was the only part of his body without rigamortis. I pet him over and over again, crying.
I lifted him into my arms, stiff as he was and looked at the other side of his body, searching for clues to his death. All I saw was a little scrape on the back of his heal as if he'd been in a small brawl. No bones jutting out, no skidmarks, so "flat" anything. Just Radley, sleeping, stiffly.
Another neighbor arrived with a towel and I wrapped him up. We put him in a trash bag because we couldn't find a long enough box. I returned to my house and noticed how soft and fat his belley still felt. No rigamortis there either. I set him beside the trash can though I could never "throw him away." I looked up and saw Zorba watching us from the window. I began to sob and walked inside and into the shower I'd already started. That's when I got sick.
I've hyperventelated three times in my life. Twice over a man and once over a cat. All three over an empty heart.
I dressed, still wet and picked Radley back up. I drove to Chris and Michelle's.
All I could get out was, "Will you please bury him."
And that's where the dirt came from. I handed over my baby and went inside sliding to the floor, staring out the window. I watched Chris jump on the shovel to break the groung. He eventually pulled over the water hose and even had to grab the machete. The ground was hard as a rock and obviously unwilling to bury another creature prematurely.
Finally, Chris motioned for me to come out. I picked Radley up and laid him in the shallow grave.
I burried him in tears and dirt.