Wednesday, January 10, 2007

a friend in the night

I think my protestations about science fiction (see this post) were more a fit of pique at my mother than a real dislike of sf. Fact is, there are a lot of things I like about sf. And during this time I was even trying to write sf stories, including one set in a post-apocalyptic city, in which an orphaned boy is befriended by a woman called “The Filcher” whose skin has been turned to crusty scales or plates by exposure to noxious chemicals or radiation. I’m sure I’ll run onto it again sometime. The story never really managed to gather a plot, though it’s probably still one of my longer pieces of prose fiction.

Here’s a description from 3/1/86 of meeting a cat on a cold evening walk: “When it first saw me [the white Persian] arched its back. I called, ‘kitty kitty kitty kitty,’ as I approached but it hissed. I tried plaintive mewing. That worked instantly. The cat stopped arching, looking hostile, and settled on its haunches. Not going too near I crouched, held out one hand with fingers extended, so the cat could sniff the tips, and alternated my mewing with ‘kitty kitty kitty.’ The cat stepped closer, three forward, one back. It sniffed my fingers and jumped away. Came again and sniffed my fingers. Went around behind me and rubbed against my back, still shying from my hands. Then I got a stroke in. It moved closer. And I had a friend. The cat had no collar, it looked like a real Persian with pure white hair and smashed-in face, but its fur was badly matted. No one had brushed it in a long time. Cat smelled faintly of dog. But someone had loved it once because the poor babe warmed right up. Purred, purred. Climbed into my lap, didn’t mind being picked up (but didn’t like being held long). Adored the attention. Nice for me, too, encountering a friend in the night. I wanted to find out if the cat was lost, but what could I do? Couldn’t carry it home. Way too far. So I left. Cat followed me a little ways, stood watching me in the middle of the sidewalk until I walked from sight.”

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