Neighbor Bob is moving dirt. Out in the darkness, except for a couple of shoplights, Bob is moving dirt with a front end loader that he bought pretty much for this exact usage. So there's Bob out moving dirt from a huge pile of dirt that overlaps my property line to the space just under his new porch on his new house. Bob's old house burnt up. Or burnt down. It's gone now, just some debris buried in a hole in the yard. I made the call to 911 when I saw brown smoke pouring out of the attic. Too early for a dinner barbecue and too brown for anything I'd like to eat. In the end they saved mostly nothing, just some photos and a few paperback books. Not the ones I loaned them, ironically enough, just some old books that had been in the right place at the right time.
Above the fridge there was a cabinet and nothing was burned in there. Next to that cabinet was another cabinet and in that cabinet was a box of saran wrap. Next to the box were a few plastic bowls. The bowls were melted into one big glob dripping down the cabinet and onto the burnt floor. The box of saran wrap was slightly soiled. Oddly enough, Bob saved from the fire a few books and box of slightly soiled plastic wrap. This is a lesson in karma.
Upstairs, in the living room that Bob had created from a space above what had been a two car garage, a space that became a lovely carpetted room with a big TV and a big leather couch, a kitten was sleeping in a box in a corner. The upstairs didn't burn, but the smoke from the kitchen below and the dining room below and the box of saran wrap wafted up into the living room and into the lungs of the kitten sleeping and the kitten never woke up. Bob's wife cried when they brought out the box with the kitten in it. She and the children all cried when the towel was pulled away and the kitten was in the box, not sleeping but just as still.
I buried the kitten out back near the other small graves from previous kittens and previous dogs and maybe a goldfish or something like that. I did a ritual and said some words and let the kids say goodbye to a kitten they never got to know very well.
This was a year ago.
Bob is moving dirt around his great new house, his neo-Victorian house with it's movie theatre in the basement and the 20' tall ceiling in the dining nook and the master bedroom on the first floor instead of the second floor in the neat tower with three big windows because Bob's wife has bad knees and can't climb stairs very well. Bob's house has radiant heat in the floor and R-52 walls made of concrete-asphalt shingles that can't burn. It has a computer in the wall to control the hot water that runs thru the maze of tubing under the floor. It has an oak door to the back yard that is twice as carved and twice as expensive as the front door I have on my house. It has a bar/dancefloor in the basement, and a gym/bedroom next to that. It has a secret room that doesn't have a door because they have to wait for the inspectors to get through with their inspections.
But it doesn't have a kitten sleeping in a box near the bedrooms.
They did try, but the kitten ran out into the street and got hit by a car, so they decided not to have another kitten for awhile. Instead, they have a wrap-around porch, fiber optic cables in the walls, three bathrooms, five bedrooms, a formal dining room, a family room, a dining nook and at the moment a couple of big piles of dirt from digging the basement out. Bob set the project back a bit when he buried the steam shovel in the slurry he created when he struck water digging the hole for the basement. But it made a good picture.
I think when the dirt is all spread out and the border plants have grown and the grass has set in and the hydrangea is back to it's old self, that Bob is going to get a kitten and make a box near the bed where he and his wife sleep. Bob likes kittens and cats and enjoys it when mine come to visit, when he has stopped digging and moving dirt. My cats seemed to enjoy his company, too. Oona rarely came over, but Ghetti did quite often and watched Bob work on his cars.
Now Oona and Ghetti are sleeping the Long Sleep out back where I buried them, with rituals, tears and grey skies. Something about kitten and cats just makes a guy feel like it's a home. I've always had one around even when I was longing for a dog that didn't dig up my flowers. Maybe the followers of Bast have been reborn here in Wilton and are conducting their rituals and burying their dead just like before, except they don't remember being in Egypt.
There's so much I don't remember. There's so much I have forgotten. I can't remember the name of that kitten that died in the smoke filled room next door. That troubles me a bit, that I would bury a cat with such dignity and ceremony and then forget it's name. I suppose a name is just a label that falls off in the wash water like the mayo jar I clean before tossing in the recycling barrel. Was it Hellman's, or the generic brand? I suppose as long as we feel satisfied with the end result, it's all the same.
Bob has stopped digging in the dirt and the lights are out. It's time for me to go to bed and dream of kittens.