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Pet Stories: In Your Own Words

Flash

By: Niles F.

I first met Flash when he was about 9 weeks old. My neighbor was care-taking a newborn kitten and asked that I look after him while she went on holiday. At first I was curious, then immdiately fell in love with him. He wore a most regal black and white tuxedo with what looked like gloves and had an unmatched spirit. As a child I was around lots of cats, but I never saw a kitten talk to itself. He made sure that he would be with me from that point on. We'd play for hours and no game was too exhausting or difficult. He applied himself intensely and instinctively fetched everything, including poetry.

Flash got his name from his blinding speed. At least that's story I might tell on the fly. He actually burned his left eyebrow off when he insisted on investigating a flame. To some that would seem dim. But I saw it as quick. He wasn't afraid even after being scorched. It was as if he recognized something in the flame and was willing to be flashed. Flash was not typical by any stretch. He possessed an extraordinary dexterity as he liked to eat his food with his enormous hands, which he would spread into scoops to lift food from the bowl to his mouth. He preferred to drink water from the faucet in the same manner. One of his favorite foods was corn on the cob. He would roll one around for a couple of hours and clean off every kernel. But he also liked pickles and raw carrots as well. It's a whole other story, but it was his way of telling me I should be leaning towards being vegan (which he guided me to), while his makeup was decidedly carnivorous.

Flash was the most beautiful and intelligent looking animal I had ever known and he affected people deeply. One night he was leaping around the apartment causing a general ruckus, as usual. He then launched himself from the floor onto the bed where he landed spread out over my girlfriend's neck and collapsed. She later told me that she was afraid to move the rest of the night because she so treasured his touch. Before returning to Wilmington the next day she snuck back over to my place and stole him away so she could own him for herself for a time. She could never explain what possessed her to do such a thing. But I knew. Flash got to people easily because he talked to them. And he made facial expressions as he talked. After he got older he realized he didn't need to meow so he became rather non-verbal. He would just look at you and make a face that somehow told you what he wanted. You would be sitting in the living room and notice him staring at you. You would think in your mind 'the kitchen door' and you would see his eyebrow closest to the kitchen door raise and point. The slightest movement of your body would cause him to race to the door ahead of you. Then you would see his friend Bob outside. Bob was the neighbor's orange and white cat and the only animal friend Flash ever had. No one ever heard Flash and Bob ever say anything to each other, yet they somehow communicated through walls. They would sit six feet apart in the shoulder high grass, like lions on the hunt, and talk all day long by just staring at each other. And when they were good and ready they would stalk prey together, which Flash taught Bob how to do. It was so spellbound to see this activity I couldn't bring myself to discourage it in any way.

His ability to communicate continued to grow along with all of his extraordinary senses. He always knew when he was home after accompanying me on a road trip. We could be approaching home after a 5 hour drive at night and he would instinctively know we were getting close. Even though the route might be totally foreign to him, you just couldn't fool him. He would wait patiently until he was in the area and then leap around the car in joy looking out each window straining to see familiar sights. When we would finally approach his neighborhood he would just howl with delight. One night I was reading a book and he crawled up on my chest and sat like a sphinx with his head inches from my own. This was one of his favorite position as he would become so contented he would start drooling. But on this night, when my eyes caught his, I suddenly saw his whole day clearly. The picture of it all was somehow in my mind, and it was punctuated with the words "yeah, it was a long day, how was yours?" I was so startled I jumped up and our little session was lost. I recall the red knit shirt I was wearing at the time. I was left with the persistent impression that the color red somehow played a part in that.

To some folks Flash was a wild animal, and indeed, there was a part of him that could not be tamed. He loved and preferred the out-of-doors and felt completely secure in whatever he did. There wasn't a dog in town that Flash hadn't faced down and sent away whimpering. He would spend days at a time roaming the neighborhood and stirring up controversy wherever he went. People were equally divided over a central issue. On the one hand, many folks appreciated his tenacity in pursuing all the little bunnies that ate their garden veggies and flowers. The other half of the neighborhood was always calling Animal Control horrified over his attacks on the local wildlife. Eventually, Animal Control called to say if they got one more report they would come and destroy him. There were only two choices, either lock him up or convince him to stop hunting. Sensing a great urgency, I pinned his face to his last hunted bunny and explained to him the harsh reality of his deeds. I then struck his nose three times with my finger to reinforce my message. Flash never looked at another bunny again. And he made it clear to me how upset he was by refusing to talk to me for months. I had somehow violated our agreement regarding personal freedoms. He displayed an enormous amount of pride over the issue, and I was miserable about it for the longest time.

I later moved out of state and separated Flash from his friend Bob and the neighborhood he loved so dearly. It broke his heart and it broke mine to see it. A short time later he was diagnosed with an aggressive inoperable tumor in his nose. The amount of courage he displayed was remarkable. He kept telling me he could handle it and to leave things alone. But it finally got to the point where he was ready, although he tried his best to hide it from me. By that time he had wasted and his face was disfigured from open wounds. I cried all night long knowing what I had to do. It finally dawned on me that I was going to lose him. It was unbearable. It was then I finally realized how deeply I felt about him. When he felt the drug enter his body he knew what was going on. With his last moment of consciousness he raised his head and turned his intense gaze at my eyes and asked "what is this all about?" It took me a long time to come to grips with that experience. I felt like a traitor in every respect. I felt like I caused him to internalize the scolding I gave him over the bunnies, which then manifested itself as the tumor. I was devastated and then came a night of tears that could not be helped. My soul was in serious torment. Two months later I had a lucid and extremely vivid dream that seemed to last forever. And in this dream all things were explained and reconciled.

Suddenly I could sense that I was tumbling through space over an enormous crescent of blue and sliver. I could see Flash in the distance tumbling towards me. We passed each other nearly close enough to touch but we couldn't manage it. We both seemed to lack any control over our movements no matter how we twisted or reached out. Momentarily, we came upon each other in the same manner but from opposite directions. This time we had more success, and on the third time we managed to grab on to each other. We immediately began to descend and soon splashed into a warm ocean on a globe that had been previewed as the crescent. It was a bright sunny day. The sky was blue and so was the water. Half the time we swam together like sea lions, laughing and barking as we splashed about. The rest of the time we sunned on the rocks and talked at length with joyous spirits. The sun never moved in the sky but Flash ended the day by telling me that the allotted time was up. We said our goodbyes and I woke immediately to tears.

I was now at ease. And after much reflection I came to the conclusion that my experience was not a dream at all, yet it was the only way my mind could perceive such a rendezvous. This meeting place must have been either selected or created by Flash, who went through considerable trouble to arrange it all. The tumbling through space must have been the process of synchronizing incompatible realms. Interestingly, in the encounter we were both the same size, but it didn't seem notable at the time. However, it was clearly a perception that reinforced the equality of our being. I now know that what separates us (any two living entities) from one another is not intelligence, as all life is of the same universal intelligence. It is rather the veil of cultural and biological displacement that narrows our ability to communicate and gives rise to prejudicial short-sightedness. I know now the incredible trust animals place in us as they come to us willingly in service. I know my fellow pet lovers around the world instinctively share these sentiments and I bless you all. I know Flash was highly evolved, despite presenting himself as a cat. He is my friend forever and I weep once again as I write.

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