A little crosseyed tuxedo kitten with a big tag on its collar showed up Saturday morning in our sleepy Algiers neighborhood across from Federal City. The adorable scamp wouldn’t stay out of our house, and out of our own tuxedo cat’s food.
But when my partner called the number on the tag, the man who answered said, “Cat? I don’t know nothin bout no cat.”
We let the cat play in our house a bit longer before my partner took a photo of her eating our cat’s food and — thinking maybe she’d dialed wrong the first time — texted the pic to the number on the kitten’s tag.
“Oh my god!” my partner shouted at her phone a moment later, reading his response text: “I do not own that cat and if you text me again I am going to call the police on you.”
We laughed at the idea of ending up in jail over this kitten. I urged her to push it farther, push it until the cops showed up — which reminded me that I had forgotten to tell her about our neighbor pulling a gun on me the day before.
I’d had a gun pressed to the back of my head once, behind a nightclub where I’d just performed in Tampa. As I lay on the ground, two dudes rifled through my pockets. I was very poor in those days but at the moment they caught me I’d just collected the pay for my band, plus the two opening bands. I’d stepped out of the club’s back door looking for my roommate, who I could not find — until, on my belly, I noticed him passed out underneath a car.
Another time, in New Orleans, I pulled up to a party and a man came out of his house with a gun to shoo me off what he perceived to be his curb. But he didn’t point the thing at me. Then early this year in New Orleans, one night on the interstate while towing my boat home to Algiers, I had to swerve hard and dangerous to avoid a loudly rattling car that cut me off. With no more thought than a cat gives to hissing, I launched my middle finger out my window. The loud car slowly caught up beside me and its driver waved a pistol out his window at me. I raced off at a speed not recommended when towing a boat, shouting, “I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY!”
Then yesterday it happened again. I backed my car out of my driveway and at the end of my street in the cul de sac where the drug dealers live, stood a tiny dog with dirty dreadlocks, and no tag. Almost nothing sketchy ever happens in my quiet neighborhood, so it took me several years to realize we had any dealers. And I am mostly pro-drugs, and they stay mostly quiet, so why worry?
I’d never stood so close to the drug house though, when I stopped my car and stepped into their cul de sac, thinking maybe if this little dog ran and jumped into my arms I would take it home and give it a bath. My daughters really want a dog.
Just then a grey Chrysler pulled in. A respectable looking man in his 40s rolled the passenger window down and spoke from the driver’s seat: “I know you’re not about to take that dog…” he said, only half-smiling.
“Oh, no. Of course not,” I chuckled. “I was just making sure it was OK.”
“Cause my little girl would cry her eyes out…”
He reached down into the passenger seat and lifted up some sort of comically large automatic weapon. “I know you’re not about to take that dog…” he repeated, waving the gun at me for a brief moment. It looked plastic, like a boombox you’d buy at a New Orleans corner store, decorated with red piping, and probably blinking lights when you pulled its trigger. I laughed again thinking maybe it was a toy, as I jumped back in my Pilot.
Only a block away did I realize my neighbor on my boringly idyllic street had just drawn a gun on me. What do I do now? Call the cops and let them take him away? Only for him to eventually return to his home a half-block away, now with a grudge. Who calls the cops in 2020, anyway?
The only answer was to pretend it never happened. And the moral is to leave stray animals alone.