My buddy’s heart hurts. And there’s pretty much nothing I can do. But keep telling him that I know. That loving things that die is just the worst. No. The worst is not loving things. Loving things that die is second worst.
Still, I hate to seem him go through it. All because he’s a good person with a big heart. It doesn’t seem fair.
Monk was always good. Even when he wasn’t. When he was bad, it was the best. The best kind of bad. My kind. And even though his bad period lasted shorter than mine, it was stellar while it burned. Bonded us as brothers. Of bad.
Today he’s just always good. With maybe a light sprinkle of bad. Which is kind of a miracle actually.
Childhood written by Dickens during opium withdrawal. Dad died when he was two. Alcoholic mother abandoning the family for weeks at a time. The kids having to steal to eat. Foster homes. Abuse. Just the fucking ugly worst. Surely, he would grow up gnarled and thorny. Somebody should pay for his misfortune. Why not everyone around him?
Not Monk. It never turned him ugly. He endured it all with a quiet dignity. Like they teach saints to do. Only nobody taught him. He just did it. And has kept doing it. Ever since.
Who does that? Statistically he should have become a serial killer. Instead of a man who goes around like St. Francis, taking care of animals. I shit you not. Wild rabbits, squirrels, and birds at home, and a bunch of feral cats living in the industrial complex he works at. Him and a guy that volunteers at Felines and Friends have caught fourteen of them. In cat traps.
All the cats get a trip to the vet. Everybody gets a check up. Gets spayed or neutered. The ones with a suitable temperament are put up for adoption. The ones too Marius, get turned back loose, where Monk continues to care for them. The original family he adopted lives in the relative safety of a pile of pallets behind chain link. He feeds them everyday. Even drives into town on week-ends. So none of them would have to take any crazy risks to eat.
These feral cats come to him. Because he’s proven himself a good yegg. A Square John. A Stand-up. They let him pet them. Let him hang out with them. Share their silence. Together they stare at the beauty of the arroyo under big sky. Everybody all squinty-eyed and wise. Like they’re posing for an album cover. He’s family.
And like me, they know they can go to Monk when they’re in trouble. And that he won’t let them down.
He went to feed them one day, and noticed he hadn’t seen the mom around. One of the boy cats comes up and starts meowing, then takes off like Lassie. Monk follows him to a warehouse. The workers tell him they’d seen a black cat in the back somewhere. They like having the cats around because of the mice, so nobody tried to get rid of it.
Too scared to dart past the workers, Mom was holed-up in a dark storage area. Monk called out, and she kept meowing back until he found her. Let him pick her up and carry her past all the scary people.
They all go home. Mama’s back. Big happy reunion. The whole family making a big furry figure eight around his legs. Everybody frisky with the joy of life. Monk the hero, petting with both hands. Angels in the clouds getting cuted-out by all this.
No surprise really. Even back in eighth grade I had been telling him he should be a monk or something. “You’re one of those spiritual mystics,” I’d tell him. I wanted to guidance counsel him towards his strengths. Something about his eyes. You could picture him walking in the woods. Drinking maple syrup out of tree branches. Squirrels on his shoulders dropping nuts in his pockets. Bees bringing him honey. Putting it on his beard, So he can have some later.
Since he just had some maple syrup and probably doesn’t want any honey right now.
A man whose love for creation and it’s creatures is returned ten-fold. Walking lightly on the leaves, so as not to startle the shy wood nymphs. Winking at snakes. Knowing each frog by first name. Strolling along, cloaked in love.
Yeah, he seemed like that type. So I told him that’s the field he should pursue. He should be some kind of holy guy. Me, I wanted to be something more bad-ass. Like a heart-broken Legionnaire or a Robin Hood bank robber. I wanted to be more Noir. But I never wanted to let that get between us.
I don’t know what Monk wanted. I never asked him.
Well anyway, it doesn’t matter because he didn’t take my advice. Instead of becoming a devout monk, bent over some scroll, he went a’Viking. For a little while, din’t yeh? Clocked your romper-stomper pillage and plunder time. I saw it.
Watched him give the Bat Chain a mighty tug, I have. Hell, he was entitled to some bad behavior. But even then, if anyone was going to get hurt, Monk made sure it’d be the right people. Racist skins. Drunk Frat assholes. He carefully discerned who truly deserved a running punch in the guts, and who needed a fast fist in the teeth. And Monk always made sure it was the right people. He was like that.
The other difference between us was that he knew when to reel it in. He knew when it was time to grow up. To wise up. To finally follow my advice and become some kind of holy dude who treads the Earth doing good deeds and shit.
And now I feel like he’s paying for it.
On his way to work he found one of the little cats run over dead. Smokey. Son of Midnight. Brother to Kung and Fu.
Well, it cut Monk in half. Even though he tried to prepare himself for the eventuality, it still sliced. Losing any of them was going to be bad, but finding one of the younger ones hurt to death… it just doesn’t suck worse. It’s a scientific fact that bigger hearts hurt more. If he didn’t spend all that love on those cats, his heart wouldn’t be squeezing with so much sorrow right now. Instead, his love has been paid back with pain.
He should’ve never listened to me.
He wouldn’t have to deal with this if he’d become a mercenary. Or a drug lord.
Wouldn’t have to deal with all this sadness, Burying it. Crying. Praying. Shiva in the heart. Trance of Sorrow soul-ache. For what? To love? Some cats?
I know he doesn’t regret it. Because he’ll keep riding on, with more arrows stuck in him than St. Sebastian–eyes scanning the horizon for any other orphaned ball of fur that might need his help. A guy like Monk is ready to pay the price of love. I know him. He’ll just keep loving, no matter how bad it hurts. What the sages call “Faith above Reason.” Doing the loving thing, no matter what the consequences to your self.
Love no matter what.
That’s not a very reasonable thing to do.
In fact, it’s absurd.
And that is why it’s so kick-in-the-balls bad-ass. So bat-shit reckless. It’s so insane, that I have to climb on-board. It’s Noir as Nuit and just as sweet. Beyond gnarly. The ultimate rebellion. Against a selfish self. And if not a fatal blow–a real chop to the beast’s throat. A little something-something to make it think twice. Before it rears it’s ugly head again. That’s for sure. So count me in. Love no matter what.
This is going to be my craziest stunt yet.
Fucking Monk. You still got it.
Always did. Always will.
That’s why you lead the way.
In lieu of flowers, The Temple of Bast has asked that donations to http://www.felinesandfriends.org/ be made in Smokey’s memory.