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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Free Papers

Once a week you find them in the lobby of the grocery store.  I have a habit of reading through them. There are the usual advertisers, the churches, the realtors, the auctions, the used car dealers, restaurants that offer “early-bird” specials for seniors, and club listings—chess, photography, computers, knitting, quilting, and a host of support groups. There are a few obituaries, but I hope never to find the few people I do know featured.  There are classified ads, too, and these are mostly the reason I read it.

Every once in a while there’s something that makes me smile.  My most recent favorite said: “Found! One of those things you pick up things with in the 300 block of Mayberry Street.”  This writer had good intentions, but the words to describe the object he’d found eluded him.  Still, he did note where he'd found it, and perhaps that would reunite the owner with the lost object.
Sometimes, the ad reveals something about the mental state of the person who wrote it. This is unintentional, but here’s a good one, full of anxiety: “Lost blue tool box full of tools. I’m not sure where I lost it, but it’s blue, full of tools and says Erector on the lid. Reward! Thank-you.”  You can tell that losing that was a terrible thing, but you can also tell that the writer has probably lost a lot of other important things over the years. As someone who can relate to absent-mindedness and loss, I sincerely hoped someone eventually returned his toolbox (blue).

Another ad, one I responded to, said: “Help me please! I have 31 cats who needs good homes.  Bring cat food.“

I went to the place—the back of beyond behind a very small somewhere along-the-highway town and up a hill via a gullied dirt road. There I found a ramshackle house and on it's last legs barn. There were cats everywhere, running for cover. A woman, thin and tired looking, with tattoos all over her arms, came out and we sat down together on the grass. She explained that she had worked at a shelter, but couldn’t endure the weekly euthanasia, and so had ended up with all these cats. I could see straight-away that most of her cats had no use for people—probably with good reason. 

I watched cats skulking under the rusting junkers  and behind old engine parts that littered the yard. After a few minutes, she  opened the big bag of cat food I’d brought and spread it on the ground. Skinny cats came swarming from every direction.   After gulping hastily, all keeping one eye on me--the unknown--most ran away. I’d been watching an orange threesome, scrawny nine month adolescents. The kind weary woman pointed them out, calling them “my orange brothers.”

One, the skinniest and shabbiest, climbed onto my lap. As soon as I touched him he began to purr, a huge roaring purr. He drooled with joy as I began to pet him gently. His eyes were washed-out yellow. His fur was dry as straw and his nose ran. I could count ribs and feel his knobby spine.
I felt a strong emotional connection—and then he bit me, grabbing the skin of my forearm with his teeth and twisting like a bulldog. Just a millimeter short of drawing blood, he leapt off my lap, stood just out of reach and continued to gaze at me, trembling, drooling, and purring.

“He didn't mean that,” she said. “He just gets excited.” 

This desperate, sick, love-starved soul is the one I took home. You never know what kind of cool stuff you'll discover in the free paper...

~ Juliet Waldron
Hop on over to these blogs too and see what's cooking: 
(Ginger Simpson)
(Connie Vines)