Q appeared at the door while my meeting was still going on.
Where's Charlotte? he wanted to know. Charlotte is a nurse. I noticed one of his hands was wrapped in a kitchen towel. Hmmn.
Charlotte's in Oklahoma, everyone said.
Oh, he said. Well, could I talk to you for a moment?
I got up and gestured to Joan, also a nurse, to come with me.
The back of Q's unwrapped hand was an amazing sight -- almost black, and swollen to twice its normal size.
Banana got me. Banana is Grace Next Door's ancient cat, in whom there is clearly a great deal of life left. He was feeding Banana while Grace was away overnight, and had attempted to pick him up and put him into his basement apartment. It was hard to imagine, but one claw did all that.
Joan looked at it and asked about the initial bleeding, which had been copious. That was good news. Wash it well with peroxide and then ice it well. Hold it up for a while, too.
Q went back across the street to follow her instructions. By the time the meeting was over and we had sat down to dinner, the swelling was almost gone. This morning, it was barely noticeable.
Q's not one to hold a grudge; he declined my offer to feed Banana this morning. Later, Banana was outside, securing the perimeter of his yard when I went out to get the cats' breakfast dishes in.
How old are you, Banana?
Nearly twenty human, they say.
Want to make twenty-one? Don't scratch Q again.
He tried to kidnap me.
He did not. He was just putting you in your bed.
I don't like to be put places by people I don't know.
Banana, we've lived next door to you your entire life.
Well, I like to go places on my own.
Cats are funny. We spent the time after dinner last night watching What's-Her-Name and Kitten chase fireflies, and feeding them bits of our poached salmon. Kitten is warming to us, but he still doesn't want to be picked up, not since I caught him and turned him upside down for what he considered a humiliating inspection of his equipment. But I had to know, I reasoned; we can't have him knocking up all the female cats in town when he comes of age.
I guess there are cultures into which we cannot penetrate, even with a change for the better. In a few weeks, I hope he'll be willing to get closer, close enough for us to grab him and get him to the vet for a shot and a snip, something he's sure to resent if he thinks about it.
Let's hope there has been some heart and mind won. We're doing the best we can.