Friday, September 13, 2019

Tank N Tummy #19

Dominic and Lauren were behind the counter reading a magazine together. It had been slow this morning so they were really enjoying their time together talking bad about celebrities but also being jealous of them. The bell over the door rang and the two of them looked up. Ryan stood in the doorway. “Ryan, put a mask on,” Lauren said.

“Where were you this morning? Alice said you came in, said you had an emergency, then left,” Dominic said.

“I have a message,” Ryan started, sadly, looking like he was building up the courage to talk. “I found Mama Kitty, behind the dumpster when I got to work this morning. She wasn’t moving, was barely breathing. I rushed her to an emergency vet. The doctor did everything he could…Mama Kitty didn’t survive.”

Ryan then rushed off to the restroom. Dominic wiped a tear from his eye but another one, from the other eye, fell. Lauren looked back and forth between the restroom and Dominic. “What?” she asked.

“We are gathered here,” Dominic began as he, Ryan, Aaron, MaryJane, Lauren, and Ned stood around a storm sewer just off of the Tank N Tummy’s property on the busy street to the west “to remember a little cat who brought a lot of goodness into our lives.”

“Do I have to be here?” Lauren asked. “Not to be disrespectful but I didn’t know Mama Cat.”

“Mama Kitty,” Ryan corrected.

“Yeah, I didn’t know her either. Also, we’re closing the store for this. Lauren and I could just…”

“Mama Kitty deserves this,” MaryJane shouted. “She was an angel among devils. So innocent. So pure. Show some damn respect.”

“I remember when I first met Mama Kitty. She was just a tiny little thing. We didn’t know at the time that she was pregnant with little kittens. It would be the first of many little sewer cats…” Ryan began.

Lauren interrupted. “Sewer cats?”

“Mama Kitty and her kittens all lived in this storm sewer. She had, what? Three litters of kittens?” Ryan asked.

“I think so. A few stuck around but most moved on,” Dominic answered.

“Moved on to sewers of their own,” Aaron sobbed.

“I’m gonna go back inside,” Lauren hooked her thumb behind her.

“I’ll join you,” Ned said.

“No respect,” Dominic, Ryan, MaryJane and Aaron all said, shaking their head in disappointment.

Lauren and Ned paused, looked at each other, and turned around to rejoin the group.

“Let’s all go around and share our favorite memory of Mama Kitty,” Ryan said. “I already talked about when I first met her but her most powerful moment was when she held her own against the trash possum.”

“We have trash possums?” Ned asked.

“It’s fine,” Dominic waved him off.

“I was taking out the trash. It was after two in the morning and when I went outside I heard hissing. I turned and looked and saw Mama Kitty on one end of the dumpster and the trash possum on the other just hissing at each other. It was quite the sight to see. After about five minutes of hissing, the possum skittered off and Mama Kitty gladly had the dumpster to herself.”

“So brave.”

“So strong.”

“I see myself in Mama Kitty,” MaryJane said. “Along with every other female on this planet.”

“There are cars at the pump,” Lauren said.

“They can still pay at the pump,” Ryan remarked.

“Remember when Melissa broke up with me?” Dominic asked.

“How can we forget? You talk about it at least once a week,” Aaron replied.

“Well, shortly after it happened, I was in a really bad place so I went out to the dumpster to think like I usually do,” Dominic began.

“You go out to the dumpster to think?” Ned asked.

“I was sitting there, sulking, when Mama Kitty came up to me and she was just a-purring. I began talking to her about Melissa and what had happened. Every so often she would meow at me—you know, she had a little chirpy beep as a meow—like she was giving advice. She made me realize that I’d fall in love again, find someone to be with, and, most importantly, have sex with again. The three hours I spent talking to Mama Kitty at the dumpster really helped me get over Melissa.”

“You spent three hours sitting with an alley cat at the dumpster?” Ned asked. “Three work hours?”

“But you’re not over Melissa,” MaryJane said.

“But that’s not Mama Kitty’s fault. She probably did her best,” Ryan explained.

“Mama Kitty was a little slut,” MaryJane chuckled. “And I mean that in a good way. I always look up to women who don’t mind using their body and pleasuring themselves.
Every time I’d see her in the back and her little heinie up in the air and a male cat coming toward her, I’d smile and give a little nod. You go, girl.”

Everyone was silent for a couple of seconds before Ned spoke. “Lauren and I are going to go in. There is a person about to try to break one of our windows with a brick. Come on, Lauren.”

“Mama Kitty saved my life!” Aaron suddenly exclaimed.

Ned sighed. “I guess that window will hold for a couple more minutes,” he said, looking the crowd in front of the store.

“Shortly after I was hired here, my last grandparent and father died very close together,” Aaron began. “You might remember that I worked a lot, like, twelve to sixteen hour days. Mama Kitty was always there for me. I would buy her cat food from the pet store and sit out by the dumpster with her as she ate and talked about my father and grandparents. I don’t know if she was actually listening but she’d be there as I talked. She really helped me cope with losing those close to me.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” MaryJane cooed.

“Mama Kitty was very special,” Ryan cried.

“Does everybody spend an inordinate amount of time by the dumpster?” Ned asked.

“Don’t knock it til you try it,” Dominic said.

“I got Mama Kitty back from the pet crematory,” Ryan said, about a week later, walking into the store. “I figure we could put her on top of the cigarette cabinet behind the counter.”

“That is truly a place of honor,” Dominic said.

“You can’t put an urn of cat ashes behind the counter,” Ned said.

“Why? Because of some sort of stupid health code?” Ryan mocked.


“Well, we have to keep it here at the store. Mama Kitty was an important part of our lives at the store,” Ryan lovingly pet the urn.

“Since all of you and her spent most of your time together out back by the dumpster then maybe you could set the urn out there,” Ned chuckled.

No one else reacted.

Ned sighed and rolled his eyes. “I guess you can put her on a shelf in my office,” he offered.

Ryan and Dominic quickly ran in there, knocked a couple picture frames and a trophy off of a shelf and sat Mama Kitty’s urn carefully on the shelf. “It really ties the place together,” Ryan said. He and Dominic continued looking at the urn. A single tear rolled down Ryan’s face.