Cat of God

Cat of God

© Susan Livengood 2007

Catherine studied the painting on the easel. The bent figure was a crone, not a middle-aged art teacher. Months of work and she realized that she hadn’t dealt with the hands. She would look up talons and claws. The energy and anger she had thrown at the board were evident. Tomorrow the show would be over, the county competition was over, and next week was final exams and respite, she prayed.

Idling, waiting for the coffee machine to do its’ thing, she contemplated what palette of colors would distinguish early morning light. What colors were in the light bathing the white walls of her painting studio? You couldn’t just lay down titanium white onto a canvas. A gray cat was contentedly sharing the chair, reveling in non-stop cat scratching. The spacious room with red chair and gray cat was quiet, unlike the racket of birdsong outside in the courtyard.

“Hank, why don’t you go to the opening tonight, and I’ll keep your spot by the window warm? I’ll keep an eye on those birds for you.”

The cat stretched, considered checking his bowl for missed morsels, but settled back into her lap. The fat red chair gracing Catherine’s studio had been sitting on the curb one day, waiting for the trashmen. Her son, Paul, and his friend, Ben, had been persuaded to haul it to her studio. College boys were good for something.

“No big deal, just the Art After Dark Stroll. Eileen says it will be a nicely mixed show. My students did great in the Book County Student Art Fair, but I’m exhausted. You go tonight and I’ll get some sleep.”

Catherine put the cat on the floor, stretched, and shook her arms, trying to wake up.

“Hank, look at you, so handsome. Tell them that you’re the artist. You’re patient, you could listen to them gush about talent and artistic influences.”

The cat headed for the food bowl, hopefully.

“They don’t want to hear about the grinding need to splash my emotions onto anything that stands still. It’s not talent, it’s torture!” She folded down and tapped the floor, stretching hamstrings.

Nothing was left in the bowl. The cat groomed himself, then curled up for that nap in the sun.

“You wouldn’t have to worry about what to wear, your gray tuxedo with tail, tres chic!”

Catherine got a cup of coffee. It was going to be a long day. Staring at the easel, she absently picked up a palette knife.

Paul Dade was casting. Practicing in the courtyard under the maple tree, he aimed at targets, always aware of not hanging the line in the tree. He would have much preferred to be in an icy mountain creek, casting for fish, not birds. He had twenty minutes until he had to leave for work. The pall of anger was heavy this morning, and the only way he knew to relieve it was to get lost in fishing. He flicked the line at the door to the studio, giving Hank something to stalk.

“Paul doesn’t know that I am The Cat of God. He named me Hank Aaron because he found me at the baseball field, a tiny kitten. I’ve been making up for that brush with starvation ever since. Catherine tried to persuade him that a cat was too expensive and too much work. Ha, she didn’t know who she was up against! Paul paid her back for every penny they spent on me. Now you may ask why God would send his cat to a small town in North Carolina. Go ahead, ask, I dare you!” The cat sat near the French door, alternately watching Paul casting and Catherine painting.

“Why would God send a cat when he has a host of angels?

Let me know if you’d like to read the rest of the story. SL