Last winter was a cold one in Portland, at least at the Raymond Street house.
Our cats had adjusted to life on the inside, chasing and being chased, eating endless meals of kibble and napping in bed (and sometimes spilling kibble chunder on the snowy white down comforter- damn you, Sylvia!).
Throughout the month of January, we hadn't noticed our neighbor at home much, but that was nothing new. I often noticed that his lights went on and off but I never saw anyone through the windows. (And believe me, I looked.)
It wasn't until his cat, a mangled looking beast that a previous tenant had abandoned, came to visit us that we realized Mike was out of town.
This scruffy-furred, string-tailed, shoulda-been-a-waif cat made his way onto the fence, then the garage, and finally the roof of the house to stand and stare hungrily in the window at us as we sat at our computers, no doubt eating something delicious just so fate could rub it in.
Of course I ran outside with a plateful of kibble for him. He wouldn't come near me but after I put the food down and retreated, he approached the food and began eating. He really horked it down- head bobbing, barely chewing as he raced to get the food into his belly. I went into the house to watch him eat. After a couple of minutes he started doing a particular step and shuffle, which I realized he did to alleviate paw pain as he stood on the gravel driveway. Oh, poor hungry horky!
We fed him until Mike came home from his trip to South America, and even after that sometimes since Mike came home debilitated from back surgery and couldn't always feed him.
Winter turned into spring, and regular feedings turned into love (or at least a sort of practical affection).
Horky gradually moved onto our front porch and even began to defend it, on occasion, against Sylvia. He would sometimes venture into the house, tentative, curious, almost apologetic, until I would chase him back to his porch.
The past few weeks I've been running around, busy busy busy as I'm often wont to do. Whenever I passed him, he would raise his little head for a pet, but more often than not I would only give him a passing ruffle, a plateful of kibble and then be gone.
On weekends when I would sit on the porch and horky would be there, he would sometimes come up onto the chair for petting, headbutting me gently and twirling in circles for maximum hand exposure.
Billy kept him fed and watered but also kept his distance.
Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to good people.
There was an incident last week, a murder, really.
These fierce dogs were up-in-arms, full of fire and giddy with pack mentality (of two).
Neither Billy nor I witnessed the event (we're afraid Mittens did) but when Billy arrived home, he found Horky lying in the front yard, punctured by many sharp canines and mortally wounded. Actually, gentle reader, Horky was dead. Another neighbor indignantly shared that he noticed two pitbulls fleeing the scene.
It might have been that since Horky lived with a pitbull he had less fear of them, or that they snuck up on him, or that he couldn't run fast enough to escape.
Whatever the reason, Horky met an untimely end and our porch is a little more lonely without him.