By Officer Jack Keillor
After Janet was crushed under the weight of all of those newspapers down at her job at the newspaper store, I bought a cat to cheer myself up. I knew that it wasn’t going to fill the hole that Janet and those awful newspapers left in me, but it was better than doing nothing. Feeling nothing. I named the cat Lieutenant Snuggles and we had all sorts of cat-centric fun, from playing with a piece of string to taking a nap. She was the best friend a young cop with a recently dead wife could have, and she didn’t demand anything that I was no longer capable of giving, like all of my selfish human friends at the time. No, Lieutenant was something special, and I knew it before we even got home from the pet store thanks to my other friend that has never let me down: Burger King.
Picking out a good cat had really worked up an appetite in me. I needed something to snack on before I got home to microwave dinner, so I stopped at my local Burger King to grab some onion rings. With Lieutenant in the front seat, I put the onion rings in the back, but next thing I know, Lieutenant is gone! I can’t find her anywhere, then I look in the rear view mirror and there she is in the back seat, face full of onion rings! We had a big laugh that teetered off into affectionately gazing into each others eyes. I lost myself in those eyes just long enough to veer off the road and almost take out a couple going for a stroll.
Once we got home I busted out a ball of yarn, tied a piece of string around an onion ring and she chased me around the whole damn house, happy as hell. It almost let me forget that the last conversation I had with Janet was yelling at her for not emptying out the dishwasher. Or that when they found her body, the text she was reading when she lost control of the car was from me telling her that if I’d known she was going to be so irresponsible with our dinnerware I never would have married her. Or that, when she didn’t respond to my first text, I sent her thirty-five more that were increasingly vile, pathetic bids for attention that were later read in court during a particularly bitter divorce. (Fourth wives, am I right?)
The day after I brought Lieutenant home, she got sick. The doctors were never quite sure what it was. They just knew that there was what they described as a large mass in her stomach. They weren’t sure whether it was a tumor, something she ate or just some abnormality with her body. I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything bad she might have eaten, so I said as much, leading them to believe that it was cancer. Since I didn’t have enough for both the cancer testing and the cancer treatment, I told them to just go ahead with the radiation treatment. Chances are the little gal had cancer, so we might as well just get it taken care of. Lieutenant didn’t like the treatments at first, but then she really didn’t like them. It was hard seeing the poor thing go through all that and I wouldn’t wish it on anyway, except maybe that guy down at the laundromat that keeps eyeing my quarters. If I even think that there’s one missing I’m coming for you, Leo. Don’t act like I need proof to kick your ass.
After six months, the doctors decided that the cancer had probably gone into remission, though they never checked as I still didn’t want to waste money. Finally, with a clean bill of health, I could bring little Lieutenant home and show her a thing or two about having responsible fun around the house. She was pretty weak for a few days, but soon enough she was back to her old rambunctious self that I’d only gotten to see on that very first day. I took her for walks, brushed her teeth, combed her hair, applied for a credit card in her name, watched a few marathons of Real Housewives together and even took her with to a few drug busts. She may have been the only cat I’ve ever had, but she was also the best. Maybe in the whole dang world. It’s just such a damn shame that she wasn’t long for it. At least she got to live to see her first birthday.
I went all out for her birthday party, and I’m glad I did. I invited all of the neighborhood cats and some of the smaller dogs and children over, rented Scratches the Cat Clown, and more hookers than you could shake a tail at. While I knew Lieutenant would be far too classy to ever enjoy the company of an escort, some of these neighborhood cats were real pieces of trash and if you’re going to throw a party and invite certain elements of kitties, I believe in making those kitties happy. For dinner, I made everybody a tuna casserole from scratch that I was very proud of, and for desert we had Lieutenant’s favorite; Burger King onion rings! It was a hit with all the cats in the neighborhood, but I’d personally never seen Lieutenant eat so much in her whole life! It was particularly heartening as she had spent so much time being sick with the cancer and the radiation poisoning. It was really amazing to see her have her strength back. Even if it was only for the one day.
When I woke up the next morning and went to check on Lieutenant, she was dead. The doctors have no idea what happened, since I couldn’t afford the test they needed to do to find out. I guess it’s just like one of those cat mysteries you always heard about happening in Egypt times and we’ll just never know. All I do know is that if I want to fill any more Janet shaped holes in the future, it probably shouldn’t be something that’s alive.
Burger King’s onion rings get five stars out of five.