Monday, November 8, 2010

Lonely Lemuel

Kid knew it was fall and that winter wasn’t far away.  The temperature dropped every night to an uncomfortable chilliness, and the daytime was comfortable only if there was sun and somewhere to sit that wasn’t the cold hard ground.  Getting older was for the birds.  Her bones ached in the cold and it seemed like her fur wasn’t as thick as it had been a few years ago. 

Luckily, the yarn lady (the new lady who’d moved in a while back) was more than happy to make sure she got inside.  She’d distract Buddy so that she could get on the deck and in the door safely.  Once inside there were plenty of places to lie down that were soft and warm, and lovely food.  Val always gave her at least twice as much food as the other cats, rationalizing that since she spent most of her time outdoors, she deserved it.  Kid certainly wasn’t going to tell her that she was spending more time indoors these days – the squishy food was too yummy. 

But this morning she was outdoors.  Val’s family had been around all afternoon yesterday and they were noisy and unpredictable, so she’d opted for the outdoors.  She’d dozed off on some soft cushions in a shed and woke up only after everyone in the house had gone to bed. Kid had gone to the sliding door on the deck, but there were no lights on, so Val and the yarn lady must have gone to bed early. 

After a cold night outdoors, Kid was wandering the property waiting for someone to get up and let her in.  It was just light, and although the yarn lady got up a lot earlier than Val, she didn’t think she’d be up this early.  She headed down to Bart’s farm figuring she’d see who was out and about there.  At least it would kill some time.

She peered through the hedges and noticed that although the chickens weren’t out, the turkey named Lemuel was.  He gobbled a greeting to her, and then said clearly, “Hello Kid, I’ve missed chatting with you these last few days.”

“Hi, Lemuel.  It’s been a bit chilly lately, so I’ve been spending more time indoors.  How’s it going with you?”  Kid had gotten to know the turkey and felt a bit sorry for him, as he was quite lonely.

“Oh, about the same.  The chickens are poor conversationalists, and the farmer just doesn’t seem to listen to me at all.  Every time I see him I ask when he’s going to bring me some hens and jakes and he just doesn’t listen.  Sometimes I wonder if he even understands a word I’m saying.”  Lemuel shook his head and his wattle wobbled back and forth. 

Kid cocked her head.  “Okay, I know what a hen is, but what’s a jake?” 

Lemuel shook himself a bit, and Kid knew she was in for a lecture if she didn’t head it off.  “Jake is the term for a young male turkey, before he becomes fully mature and jenny for the females.  Babies are poults or chicks…”

“Oh, I never would have known all that.  With cats we’re just kittens and cats.  Turkeys are much more complicated, I guess.  You know, humans don’t understand our speech at all.  They lost their abilities for cross-species communication somewhere along the way.”  Kid hoped that by changing the subject she could sidestep a lecture on the family structure of turkeys. 

Lemuel strutted about for a few moments, picking at grain on the ground.  “I guess I knew that.  I’m just so lonely without other turkeys that I keep trying every day.  All the farmer does is shove grain at me.  I never got this much food at my other farm.  I know that I need a little more insulating fat for winter, but the amount he’s giving me is a bit ridiculous.  It’s as though he wants a fat turkey.  He looks at me sometimes and tells me to eat up, that he likes a large turkey breast and big drumsticks.”  He shook his head. 

Bells went off in Kid’s head.  Turkey breast.  Drumsticks.  People didn’t refer to live animals in those terms, that was what you said about something you bought at the supermarket to cook.  Bart couldn’t be - - no, even he wouldn’t bring in an animal just to fatten it up and kill it.  The goats gave milk, as did the cows.  He collected the chickens’ eggs, not the chickens themselves.  No way he’d…then a thought occurred to Kid.  Cold weather.  Fall.  Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving turkey.  NO!  Impossible.  Turkeys came from the grocery store.  He’d seen Val bring in whole chickens and turkeys, plucked and without heads and feet and wrapped up in plastic. 

Some of the panic she was feeling must have shown on her face.  “Kid, are you okay?  I don’t think Bart is some sort of deviant.  He just admires a well-built turkey.  Perhaps he feels that I will father superior poults if I am fleshier.  It’s possible.” 

“Oh, no.  I just thought of something else.  Listen, Lemuel, I’ve got to be going.  Val will be calling for me anytime now, and if I’m not close I’ll miss my breakfast.  Okay.  I’ll be seeing you.”  Kid scampered across the yard and though the hedge.   She was going to have to talk to the other cats about this.  Maybe they would know if Bart would do this unspeakable thing.  She prayed to the Great Cat that she was wrong.  

No comments: