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.
What can I say? Sounds like a brother to me. Send him my regards and if I ever get rich, y’know, before dying that is, I’ll send him a big fat cheque to fund his endeavours.
You’d love Monk. I can say that with some certainty. He’s a smooth blend, if you dig what I’m saying. For a while we called him “Mellow Roast” partly for that reason. I’ll let you speculate as to the other reason. So yeah, you two would hit it off out of the gate. Very, very, very funny dude. I didn’t really mention that in the piece. He’s a riot. Our early friendship was based on walking around together during lunch recess trying to crack each other up. Quietly making up stories about the kids around us. Trying to out warp the other. Making them crazier and more bizarre with each installment. He could ALWAYS take it to the next level. Of bad taste. Weirdness. Name it. Never left me hanging. The thing is he’s got this…he’s going to hate this…angelic look. I can’t explain it better than that. So he’s got this angelic look, and all this gnarly shit is coming out his imagination via mouth. And it’s just such a stunning contradiction, that it makes it all the funnier.
Of course if he should ever choose to speak in parables, I know people would find themselves listening. He’s got that look. Like, maybe I should listen to this guy. I don’t know exactly why.
Oh and thanks in advance for your death bed “cheque.” It will certainly take some of the sting out of you dying, knowing some stray cats are a little better off because of it. Not all of it, of course. They’ll be plenty of sting left. Oh wait, you said ever you get rich before you die. Ok. That’s different. Nevermind.
Get rich quick.
Love you, Johnny Boy.
Big love to Monk from another animal whisperer and guardian who knows it’s never easy when the little ones go down.
Hey Lee Ann, I’ll thank on behalf of Monk for your big love. Monk, this woman has a really big heart. Her big love is huge. So you made out there, buddy. She’s shamanic. Among other things she is said to be able to whisper sheep into putting out luxurious wool. It’s wool right. It doesn’t come out as yarn right from the sheep. You have do do something else to it before you can knit some Irish rogue as cozy pullover. Spin it. That’s it. With a spinning wheel. Goes round and round. My point is that…wow…I just realized I don’t have one. That’s embarrassing. Do I have time to make one up? Fuck it.
Big love right back to you,
and of course, that charming hooligan you wed.
…and that’s why I love him.
Who? Oh, yeah. Monk. He’s pretty good, que no?
So weird having you here. I feel like I need to tidy up the place for company. Not that you would give a fuck. You know what I mean.
I feel like I need to bring out snacks.
Heeshtily try to be the bunce vah dah boy host.
Refilling the glass after each sip.
Anyway, I hope this piece was good for a few sea-monkey smiles from old chap. Some sniffles, even better. Crush his head in a vice for me.
Thanks for the words on a 20 century St. Francis.
Something definitely spiritual about the solace one can obtain from a cat, especially one in need. Unlike a dog, they seem to have their own agenda and, much like love, if you try too hard to curtail them, their affectionate will leave.
Monk sounds like a good man…animals know.
Dude! I saw I got hits from Italy and lo and behold, who does it turn out to be? You have two guesses. The life of the jet-setting arteest seems to be treating you well. I’ve been following your exploits. Are you guys going to be depressed when you get home? Prolly. You’ll get over it though, because I’ll beat it out of you two with hard physical exercise. We are going to use pain to stimulate growth.
I agree about the cat being more independent than dogs. I love dogs, but sometimes I balk (not bark) at their neediness. Anyone in a relationship should take note of this effect. Of being overly eager to please. The cat never overstays it’s welcome. They’re always coming and going and you never know exactly where and when you’ll see them. It leaves a little mystery. With a dog, you know his snout is going to be in your crotch before you even drop your car keys in the salad bowl from Pier One.
Like clock work their affection. Which is nice. Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t tend to appreciate things that come too easily. But I’m working on it.
Always working on something. You know. You too.
Give Bobby a chop in the trapezoids from me. Keep living the dream.
Because I’m designing a nightmare for you when you get home.
Beautiful……you truly captured him in your words. Thank you.
Speaking of sea monkey smiles. Thanks D. Glad you liked. Your brother is one of the most amazing creatures that ever padded across our earth. My words can hardly capture his greatness. Well, you know. Thanks for turning out beautiful too. Maybe see you soon.
From one cat lover to another. It is my pleasure to make a small donation in Smokey’s memory.
Oh yeah, Ms. Daisy breaking out the check book. That’s very sweet. Your family has a long history of patronage. Of the arts. And civilization. Tis a noble legacy. Add taking care of scampy scruffs to your list of philanthropic generosities.
Tell your Ma and Rocky I said “Hey.” And thanks again.
Yours in purple velveteen gentlemanliness,
Haha – I luv yew
Yer jes too much.
Too much sometimes is jes enough. Wuv lew.
Thanks for posting that. It’s very inspiring 🙂
Great to hear that. It’s a labor of love. Certainly not a love of labor. Peace out.
What a great testimonial to your wonderful friend. Anyone who loves animals is O.K. by me. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you very much. There’s a lot to Monk, so it was tricky trying to capture it in this rough sketch. Like a whale trying to catch sardines. Just gotta open up and let in as much as you can. Glad you enjoyed this big gulp. Love.