I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. It's a little uncomfortable up here, but it's the cleanest spot in the house. Roaches are everywhere. There's about a foot of garbage on the floor, old candy bar wrappers, rotting fruit, moldy bread, and assorted animals. I see a skunk carcass over by the fridge; I am convinced that it died from the stench. I can see from my vantage point that the rest of the house isn't much better. Having made it into this episode of Hoarders, I am not all that eager to leave my perch and wade through the layers of trash to get to the door.
Merle never was any good at housekeeping. I've named him Merle, but that's not his real name, of course. I never ask for their names. It's too personal. I don't need a name to kill a man, anyway.
This guy, Merle? He needed killing, and not just because somebody wanted his land. This guy was certifiable, living way out here alone. Nobody who lives in this much crap can be sane, either. The guy hadn't showered or shaved in months. He probably couldn't even get into the bathroom even if he wanted to, with all this trash. It was a mercy to put a bullet in his head, put him out of his misery, and I was happy to do it, even if I was just getting paid.
Except for the cat. After I walked into the trailer and shot Merle, I realized that he was opening a can. I thought that was the guy's last meal, but then I saw there was a cat curled up on a blanket right on top of the kitchen table. She was staring at me, a beautiful calico, eyes enormous in a thin face, ears twitching. Most cats would have run away at the sight of a stranger, but I noticed that this cat's back legs seemed to have something wrong with them. She may not have been able to run away even if she wanted. There was a tiny pink dish, immaculately clean, on the table.
That got me thinking.
The one clean item in this entire s***hole was the dish for the cat. Come to think of it, the cat looked groomed and the blankets under her seemed clean. We stared at each other for a couple of seconds, and then that cat silently meowed. I was hooked.
I picked up the half-opened can from the detritus on the floor. The can opener was harder to find, but I was finally able to open the can and put some food in the bowl. I pushed it close enough to her and she was able to lean over and delicately take a few bites. I reached over and stroked her soft fur, and was hooked.
Merle let everything in his life go to hell, so much so that I got paid to kill him. And yet he was caring for this cat, and was doing for this cat what he would not do for himself. What was up with that?
I'm going to take the cat with me. She's helpless, and she'll die out here before someone thinks to look for a body. I might be able to kill a man, but I won't leave a helpless animal to die.
Besides, it's the least I can do for Merle.