The story so far...Ben pocketed a $100 bill for a $10 bill at a restaurant and is now caught between wanting to keep the money and telling his mom what happened. On the way home, Mom hits a cat crossing the road. They argue about whether or not to stop. Ben jumps out of the car to check on the cat.
Written by Frances Milburn
Illustrated by Liv Aanrud
I ran back to the cat lying in the road. He was a skinny little tiger with burrs tangled in his matted fur. He wasn't moving, except for his eyes which locked into mine. It was a blank stare, one of shock rather than pain. Blood dripped from his mouth. Mom came up and looked over my shoulder.
"Thank God he's alive!" I said, close to tears. I looked up at her. "We need to get him to a vet right away!"
"He's just a scrawny old barn cat!" She exclaimed. "Maybe a stray, one of those feral cats hanging around out here. The neighbors complain about them all the time. They kill the birds. Lots of times, people just drop off cats they don't want anymore, thinking they can survive on their own."
I couldn't believe her words. How could she keep talking about that kind of stuff when we had an emergency on our hands? I gently gathered the cat into my arms, leaving a pool of blood on the pavement.
"Ben! You shouldn't pick him up. He's not someone's beloved pet." She looked closer at him in my arms. "This cat is hurt bad. I don't think he'll make it."
Suddenly I got really mad. "So what are you saying? We should just leave him in the road to die?"
"Ben, stop it!"
"Or leave him for someone else to run over?"
Shrugging her shoulders, she shook her head. "I don't know what to do." Looking across the road, she added more gently, "He might belong to the farmhouse over there, probably lives in the barn to catch mice. Maybe we could run up to the house and see if it belongs to them."
Still holding the cat, I walked toward the car. "I'm taking him to a vet. If you're so cold-hearted, I'll find someone else to drive me."
With a big sigh, she followed me back to the car. "Vets don't work for free, you know. It costs a lot of money. Who's going to pay for it? Besides, it's Saturday, the busiest day of the week for vets. No one will even be able to see us."
But when we got to the car, she opened the door for me. Grabbing her red jacket from the back seat, she laid it across my lap for the cat. She started the car and turned around, heading back toward town. We drove in silence. I gently stroked the cat whose eyes were now closed. I felt sure he was relieved that someone had picked him up.
Black River Vet Clinic was packed when we walked in. There was a bunch of dogs and cats, growling and hissing as the owners tried to keep the peace. But I hardly noticed any of them as I marched right up to the desk with the wounded cat and announced, "We need to see a vet right now! My mom hit this cat on the road, and we want to save his life."
The desk girl, a teenager with lots of black curly hair and a nose ring, glanced at the cat and then quickly looked at my mom, standing next to me. Mom gave a weak smile and nodded her head in agreement.
"I'll see what I can do. Have a seat." She disappeared behind the door, and we sat down in the only empty seats waiting with all the other owners.
In a short while, the girl returned and whisked us past the angry eyes of waiting customers into a vacant room. "Have a seat. The doctor should be in shortly."
We sat on a bench, and the office girl closed the door behind us. It was a small room much like the one in Dr. Beck's office where we go, except that the exam table was about half the size. The Formica top had a well-worn spot in the middle with scratch marks, like a design, going off in all directions. There were framed pictures of bouncing kittens and puppies on the wall. The cat in my lap didn't look anything like those on the wall. I stroked his scruffy fur, but he didn't respond. I kept watching the door. "What's taking so long?" Mom shook her head.
Just then the door opened, and a young woman in black jeans and a long red braid walked in. She looked like she might be in high school too. "Hello, I'm Dr. Hammond. What do we have here?"
Mom explained what happened, as the doctor carefully took the cat out of my arms and laid him on the table. She examined him with gentle fingers. I kept biting my lower lip. Finally, she turned to us and said, "This cat is seriously hurt. But I can't tell you exactly what's going on without cutting her open. It could be a ruptured bladder. That is something I could fix."
She was stroking the cat. "But it could be something much more serious. I might not be able to do enough. And she might die in the process."
"Basically, you have three choices here. We can perform exploratory surgery," she looked at Mom, "Or, we can provide fluids and pain medicine, keep her for the night under observation, and see how she is in the morning." Just then, the cat meowed weakly. "Or, the third option is to euthanize her now."
"What does that mean?" I asked.
Dr. Hammond looked at me. "Put her to sleep forever."
- Frances Milburn, a resident of Watertown, has been a teacher in middle and elementary school for 26 years. Amherst Junction native Liv Aanrud now lives in Los Angeles.
Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article comment by:
this is truley a heart felt article i wish you would have finished with the results. Ill just believe everything turned out and the cat found a home and some one to love him phone number has changed this is correct