A knock comes on the door.
Answer the door — there are two little blonde girls carrying a large orange cat.
Mister — can you help — can you help our cat?
The cat has a number of blood-swollen wood ticks the size of small grapes in its face.
God — yes — yes I’ll help — but where is your Father or Mother?
At the store — please help our cat —
Yes please help.
Okay — okay — wait here — I need tweezers.
Rush to the kitchen, search for tweezers in the junk drawer. The five year old girl cares for the three year old and they are left alone in the house to fend for themselves; day after day after day after day. The parents have problems; the parents have issues. Don’t know that at the time though—don’t know that at the time. Run upstairs, search for tweezers in the bathroom, on the vanity — no — no — no tweezers. Go in the garage. Get small needle nosed pliers. Go back outside.
Here — here hold the cat good and tight.
Pinch the first wood tick’s head with the tip of the pliers.
Pull — it comes loose. Throw the tick into the grass. It disappears unseen.
Good; that went good. The pliers will work.
Ultimately, a concerned neighbor who knows the whole story calls the authorities. The children will go to a foster home. They will lose the house. The story is long.
But today is today; need to help the cat.
Pull out five more ticks.
They disappear unseen into the grass.
There — kitty is all better —
Thanks mister —
Say You know you should keep kitty inside though — no wood ticks there — no dangers.
We will Mister.
We will —
They go back across the street. Call out goodbye.
In time, when the house stands empty, windows dark, no shades, no blinds, faded for sale sign out front standing askew, the cat is let go to fend for itself; it ranges the yards fields and woods, gets plenty more wood ticks that attach, fill with blood, and fall off by themselves once they are gorged, time after time after time, this time nature’s way.
Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous journals, including The Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly Review, Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short work have been published and three of his novels, Claire, Monkey, and Freddie Mason's Wake are available from Amazon.