Grey Wisdom

I looked across the dark lawn from my porch at the silvery-green eyes peering from under my car.

“You may as well come out, I can see you. Why are you staring at me?”

“Why are you outside during our time?” The sleek grey cat stretched as he strolled out of the shadows. “You should be sleeping.”

“He doesn’t sleep much these days,” the fatter of the pair replied as she waddled out. “The one he calls Goblin told me.”

“Is that any of your business? And why are you talking to my cats, anyway?” It irritates me that these nameless and nosy outsiders are prying into my life.

“We inquire after you because it is in our interest. You leave food out for us, and then we don’t have to chase down our own prey. We like that. But why aren’t you sleeping?”

“It’s October, and that’s a difficult month for me.”

“Why?” The larger shadow crouched, then pounced on something small.

“October is one of the worst months of the year for my office.” As I spoke the first cat twisted to groom himself. “It’s also the anniversary of a lot of unpleasantness: my house was burglarized twice in October, I got divorced in October, Hurricane Wilma was in October…”

“Hallowe’en is in October, too.”

“True, but these days the holiday only stresses me out. I set my expectations too high, the world’s attitude toward the celebration has changed so much that it has lost most of its wonder for me. I end up sad.”

“Your people become sad during your holidays. We know this from living with single people.”

The fatter cat lifted her face from whatever she’d been gnawing. “This is your holiday and you cannot enjoy it. Most do not even celebrate, so you cannot share your anger. This is why you cannot sleep.”

“So then tell me, O wise cats, how I can solve this situation. How can I regain some of the spirit of the holiday and bring joy back into my life?”

Their eyes vanished into blackness as they turned away from me.

“That’s it? No answers? Just wander into the shadows and leave?”

Twin blurs leapt through the streetlight’s circle into the shrubbery and were gone. I picked up my glass and struggled to my feet. Four o’clock, I thought, as I entered the house.

Badfoot was waiting by the door. I decided to pick his brain a bit. “Hey, tell me something. In August I had a conversation with Greywhite on the porch and he didn’t reply in such a direct fashion. Why’re they talking to me now?”

As I walked toward the bedroom, I heard him say: “It’s October now.”

[Originally published 20 October 2006]

One thought on “Grey Wisdom”

  1. This story has always been one of my favorites.

    The holiday has lost a lot of its fun, but there are places trying to hold onto it. Takoma Park has a wonderful Halloween tradition where all the kids gather in costume (some grownups do too!) at City Hall and parade through town. We have hay rides, pumpkin carving, and a costume contest.

    Yesterday, we came home to a treat bag hanging from our door. Inside was a drawing (obviously done by kids) skeleton erasers & some candy, and an anonymous note explaining that we had been “Boo-ed!” We are instructed to put the drawing on our front door, and pick two neighbors to “Boo” within the next couple of days. I have no idea where this custom came from, but it’s charming and we’re going to continue it.

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