Catatonic in Southern California

I’ve been blogging about serious stuff lately, so now let’s have some fun.

It’s election season and I will not talk about elected officials. Instead I want to talk about the “good old days” when I first went to work for a small city in Southern California, a city that shall remain nameless.

I was assigned to the Public Works Department, aka “the swamp.” Why, you say, was it called the swamp? The inhabitants of the office—the engineers, building inspectors, and assorted technicians—had a few sleazy tendencies. Today, we’d just call them male chauvinists.

They did, however, have big hearts when it came to one of their members. His name was Biff and he had luxurious black fur, paws with sharp claws, and a keen eye for mice.

Biff the cat was spoiled. He attended meetings of the town council, pranced at his leisure across the long dais where they sat, plopped on their agendas and bathed himself in full view of the public. Nobody picked him up by the scruff and removed him.They ignored him, just as he ignored them.

Biff was well fed and liked to sleep away the day in administrative in-baskets. He generally ignored his mousing duties. Or so we thought.

One day, pretending to be asleep, he leapt from a desk, bolted behind a bookcase, and came back with a hapless rodent dangling from his jaws. He was put outside—immediately—after lavish praise from the person who was, by then, on top of the chair.

The day Biff disappeared a search ensued. The City Engineer found me, knowing I had a number of rescue cats at home, and sadly took me to the back of the Public Works storage area. Biff lay sprawled unmoving on the cement floor.

“Is he dead?” he asked.

I moved closer. The cat was on his back, motionless, paws in the air. I noticed he was on top of something resembling ashes. I scraped the substance with my finger and brought it to my nose. “No, he isn’t dead. This cat is stoned. Who gave him all this catnip?”

I prodded the feline. He turned over, but didn’t get up. We cleaned up the mess and left him alone to sleep it off.

The catnip culprit never came forward and Biff the Cat lived out all of his nine lives at City Hall. When he died he had a fitting obituary in the local paper. I know because I wrote it at the request of the grieving swamp dwellers.

The next meeting of the town Council was dedicated to Biff’s memory.

I told you it was a small town.

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