#1 - Pets Unlimited

      We were stealing a cat for my mother.

      There are two reasons why this was the wrong way to be spending my Saturday afternoon.

      The first being of course, taking things that aren't yours and making them belong to you is wrong, morally and legally. Even if your mother's cat has recently died, and she's at home heartbroken and alone. Even in this situation stealing is wrong.
      Secondly, cats are similar to rats in that there is a constant and unwanted influx of them. If a black plague were to claim North America it would surely come in the form of kittens. The point being one doesn't need to steal a cat, or even buy a cat. There are funded organizations dedicated to doing nothing but giving away cats.

      All of this of course made no difference. I had learned years before, this wasn't how she did things. When I had gotten off the phone with my heartbroken mother she had insisted we get her a replacement cat and that we do it with pump action shotguns.

      24 hours later we're standing in an alley between the Pets Unlimited and First Choice Hair cutters with ski masks in our back pockets and her dad's hunting equipment. She explained the plan very slowly and deliberately so as to avoid any confusion. She had been up all night. Someone had spray painted "FUCK YEAH" on the brick wall just behind her.

      "Ok look, We go in, shoulders wide, guns up. The staff here is a mixture of middle aged men making just over minimum wage, and high school students. You have a deep voice, so you're going to have to do most of the talking. You need to yell. We don't want any 16 year old renegades making any quick movement because he saw underseige 2 three times and feels prepared to grab the end of your shotgun. Scare em good. The cats are in a secure glass cage, so we'll have to get the keys from the manager, his name is Brendan. We'll grab the cat, a collar, red or green, something neutral that will work no matter what the cat's gender, we don't have time to check."

      She pulled the black knit ski mask over her face.

      "Are you ready?" she asked
      "Not even a little bit."
      "Come on you pansy, let's do this."
      "Don't call me a pansy."
      "What are you gonna do about it, pansy?"
      "I dunno, shoot you?"
      "That's the spirit."

      She disappeared around the corner of the store, and pulling down my mask, I followed her. The sliding door opened and we entered. Someone screamed and we walked in past the cash and stood beside the rabbit pen. It stank.


      She looked at me, "Well come on you fucking idiot." she whispered sharply.

      "Oh yeah, oh yeah."

      I walked beside the parrot cage "OK, everyone, .. everyone that's in the store, we are stealing a cat... please."

      More silence. The air conditioner over head hummed it's silent protest.

      "Are you fucking kidding me?" she said from behind me
      "I'm SORRY I don't really know what to say."
      "Well being rude isn't going to help anything."


      I stumbled again, "OK, so we want the keys to the cat cage... er.. the uh box, with the glass wall there, with the cats inside of it, ple... uh, right now."

      An overweight man who would've been an ideal billboard model for microwave dinners had his hands up somewhere in the hamster/ferret isle. His name tag said Brendan.

      "I have them, they're on my belt."

      "OK, Brendan" I said, "Go over there and open it up, nice and wide, then go back to where you're standing, and for God sakes put your hands down." Was I actually getting better at this?

      Brendan did as he was told, and keeping our guns up we side stepped over to the cat cage.

      "Pick one, and let's go." she said
      "This orange one is nice, he's just kinda layin there."
      "Come on."
      "He seems scared though, maybe it's the guns."
      "He's not scared of your gun."
      "Maybe it's the yelling then, he's clawing me like he's scared."
      "I'll get the collar, let's go."
      "Ow, dang, he's hurting me."
      "COME ON."
      "Stop yelling, he's freaking out all over me."

      We started for the door,

      "Ok, thanks everyone, good work." I said in a noticeably quieter voice.

       She was already outside heading for the car. I got in and put the cat and the gun in the back seat. She screeched away cutting it hard and swerving to avoid an oncoming car.

       "We did it!" I said, finally.

       She didn't answer but continued to drive double the speed limit, we ran a yellow light, and a stop sign, as if breaking one law had erased the rest.

      "Slow down!"
      "We can't slow down, we need to get home, get this car in the garage."
      "We're not going to make it if you keep this up."
      "Fuck, there's construction ahead."
      "Well slow down then!"
      "What does that mean?"

       The man holding the stop/slow sign had just gotten back from lunch break. We passed him and his slow signal at an incredible rate. The road was being torn up from the sides, and replaced. We were reduced to a single lane which didn't seem to phase her. The ashphalt gave way to dirt and our speed remained constant. I was being thrown around in the passenger seat so hard I thought I was going to fall out.

       The shotgun went off.

       Brakes. Dust Cloud. Silence. A heavy, stunned silence.

       The passenger side, rear door window had been blasted out across the construction site and onto someone's front lawn. The cat had gone with it.

      "Sweet mother of prom night Jesus, we shot the cat."
      "What do you mean we?"
      "I mean your evil knievel driving ass made the gun go off and it shot the cat."
      "Bullshit, who puts a kitten and a loaded shotgun in the backseat? Do you pop the asprin cap off the bottle for little kids too?"
      "What are we going to do now?"
      "I don't know, let me think."
      "Didn't this happen in a movie once?"
      "We're going to have to go back."
      "Go back where?!"
      "Pets Unlimited."
      "Are you fucking crazy!?"
      "We stole a cat, the cat got shot, we have to get another one."

      I got out of the car in time to see the police car coming down the street the way we had. Salvation.

2009 Broken Chair