The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 54
9:30AM. Veteran’s Day. Hank was down on his right side, 30 yards from the house, in open desert chaparral. The coyote cackled and danced in a semi-circle around him. The second it saw me coming Hank threw a wild left hook, stinging its nose. It trotted away as I got closer.
Hank didn’t move. At all. How badly he was hurt I couldn’t tell. No blood, but he was covered in saliva. He panted and stared into nothingness as I stroked his head and the back of his neck. I used my body to give him shade, help cool him down. No change after 10 minutes, or 20. Moving him might make things worse. Water. I’ve got to get him water. “Hang on. I’ll be right back.”
I ran into the house, got water, picked up my portable phone, ran back outside. He still hadn’t moved, but his panting had slowed. No interest in the water. He didn’t seem capable of looking at anything, or focusing, rather.
The animal hospital a half mile away was closed. Animal Control was closed but I knew from experience they always had someone on call, so, cops first. I got lucky. Within 10 minutes I was on the phone with Rick, lead AC Officer. I explained the situation. “Be there inside 20 minutes,” he said.
When Rick stopped his truck yards from us, Hank finally moved, but it didn’t look good. It looked like something, maybe many things, were broken.
He was back down, motionless, six or eight feet away.
Rick and I knelt by him, giving him shade, talking it over. Broken bones? Internal injuries? Torn this, punctured that? Shock? Shock unquestionably.
Rick: Your decision, my friend.
I could hear Linda, Hank’s sister, wailing from the backyard. He’d had an exceptional life. Few souls are as perfectly matched to their physical form as Hank was to his. Any disability—any INability to be ALL cat—would be hell on earth for this fellow. Knowing that, I gave Rick the OK.
When Rick was approximately six feet from us, syringe prepared, Hank jumped up and galloped 30 yards to the front door of the house.
Rick: (As stunned and speechless as I) Dude…
Rick: Yeah. Wow.
Me: We just saw that, right?
Four days later—clean, a small bump on top of his head, a little skinny after a three day water-only fast, walking normally—Hank emerged from his hiding place behind and/or under the big living room chair. He jumped up on the sofa in the office then crashed heavily on my lap.
We woke up simultaneously hours later. Hank stood on my lap, yawned, then arched his back slowly, stretching his entire skeletal structure and everything connected to his skeleton. Then he did something quite unprecedented. He began kneading my abdomen. Left paw first, then right, left again, then he lifted his right paw, turned it over and stared at it as if to say: “OMG! I’d totally forgotten about this!”
To this day he tracks me down till I concede his kneading fix.