Bean is black as night with two golden coins for eyes, droopy eyes but beautiful nevertheless. Bean is shiny and polished, Bean is swift and sneaky and Bean is sleek and cheeky….it was his cheeks that I first fell in love with. I trapped Bean on S. Miro Street, that same desolate street where I first met Boy and Rocca, that same desolate street in New Orleans where I have come to know a feral dog pack, a cat-killing pack that passes through every couple of months…last month, I had lunch with them and then they were gone. S. Miro Street is a desolate street that has known a lot of action in these past nearly three years and right now, it is Bean’s home.
Some days his tiny ears poke up past the rotted molding boards that still run through the otherwise gutted shack he claims, barely poke up but I see them and I stop. Some days he is lounging on the island-like rock that sits smack in the middle of the trash-strewn empty lot next door, the one with the slushy green moat that surrounds the rock island he lays on and his coat glistens as he soaks up the sun…and I stop. And on the days I don’t see Bean, I stop, because this is Bean’s home and this is where he and I have come to know each other.
Bean and I first met when he was a tiny 3 month old kitten with puffy cheeks and beautiful eyes of gold and I was admittedly torn about re-releasing him and when he ran straight out of the carrier and across the street to and into the rain gutter, I was certain that I had made a mistake. Two months passed and when I cradled a tortoise-shelled neighbor girl of Bean’s as she died in my arms, after having witnessed and ended a feral dog attack, I was once again certain that I had made a mistake. I was certain that I should have put Bean into a cage, another black cat, complete with a soft hammock, a clean litter box, eye-catching toys and clean food and water and I was certain I should have done that and that waited and hoped for the family I knew would someday arrive to finally, just arrive. But a month ago as I drove up and Bean emerged, and then three weeks, six days ago when I drove up and Bean peeked out and then three weeks, five days ago when I drove up and Bean peered out over the branches in the tree he was lounging a story or two up in, and then yesterday when I drove up, I knew in my gut, in my heart and in my brain, I had made no mistake……Bean was, and is right where he belongs, even today as I watch the torrential downpour out of my 28th floor window, I know that Bean was already and still is part of the nature I stole him away from in that trap that day and although I can work night and day to change that fact, why? Is that fair to Bean?
Bean loves his world on S. Miro Street, even the green moat that guards him on his sun-basking rock and I take HUGE satisfaction in having it made it a better world for him….I know that someday I may cradle his body as he passes but I also know that day may never come as well, it’s not my plan to write. So while Bean absorbs and makes more beautiful the world I returned him to, I sleep soundly at night knowing that Bean is right where he wants to be and right where I stole him from and right where I returned him to and because I did all that, I will never have the bittersweet pleasure of meeting Bean, Jr……and that, is the single reason why I chose to make Bean’s world better and why I chose to make Bean better suited for his and my world, not because the world needs another cat to call “pet” And because I did all this for Bean, for me, for the Bean, Jr. that won’t be and for the world around us all, when I needed, when ARNO needed, truly and oh so desperately needed an open cage for a tiny 4 ounce wisp of near-death, a little man we now call Miracle, a tiny kitten that was pulled, just last week, from behind the sheetrock of a newly renovated but still vacant house of Katrina, because I did all this for Bean, that cage was open for Miracle, a tiny creature who needs more from us than Bean ever needed. I love Bean and I suspect he loves me in his own way, even if it is for the food I supply to him, but more than that, we both have a healthy respect for each other and what we are.
In honor of CF-14 and in memory of Shannon