Demons, I decided, are adequately scary for my Halloween series. Today I will write about one that lived in our house when I was growing up. The art-carved pumpkins from the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, RI will feature a potpourri of cartoons, historical and Hollywood based themes.
We all have our share of demons, memories of things we didn’t do but should have and things we did but shouldn’t have. They tend to hang around and haunt us long after their significance has passed. The demon I am writing about today was of a more corporeal sort, however, and came with black fur, yellow eyes and a twitchy tail.
She was the family cat.
Demon earned her name because she was as dark as a moonless night, not because of any diabolical traits other than massaging your body with needle-sharp claws. None-the-less, she spent a lot of time in the Graveyard next to our house, catching lizards by day and mice by night. We knew of this by the half-eaten prey deposited on our doorstep. I believe that she viewed this common cat activity as her contribution to feeding the family. My mother, who had little tolerance for Demon’s food preferences, gave me the chore of tossing them back in the Graveyard. I’d sometimes tie a string around a dead mouse and charge around the yard with Demon storming along behind. We both enjoyed the game; it’s questionable as to which one of us was more demented.
Depopulating the Graveyard of varmints was not Demon’s major contribution to the community, however; it was having kittens. She had them often and everywhere, including in the Graveyard. We were in real danger of becoming known as the Cat Family of Diamond Springs. I suspect that half of the cats in El Dorado County today can trace their lineage back to her.
Demon played a more important role for me, however; she was part of a team I recruited to protect me from the ghosts that lived in the Graveyard. I moved outside at a young age and lived in the backyard during the summer. It was ideal. I would go to sleep at night under the stars listening to frogs croak, and wake up in the morning listening to birds sing. If I had to pee, there was a nearby bush; if I was thirsty, there was a convenient hose. Plus, I escaped from having to share a room with my brother.
The only thing that marred my paradise was the Graveyard. There it was, across the alley, maybe a hundred feet away, and looming— a dark presence with white tombstones. And, it is a well-known fact that ghosts tend to hassle little people. As soon as the sun went down, they came out. So, I hired the family pets— a greyhound, a cocker spaniel, and three cats (including Demon)— to keep them away. I paid them by allowing them to sleep on my bed. It was cozy, but seemed to work. I was never bothered by a ghost.
A problem occurred as I grew older and bigger. The ghosts no longer bothered me and the limited space on my cot became smaller. There was little room for five pets and Curt. It was at this time that Pat the greyhound had a midnight encounter with a skunk and snuggled up with me to share her misery. I got a good dose of skunk smell, the bedding was trashed, and I was forced to move back inside (a fact my brother objected to strenuously since no amount of scrubbing seemed to eliminate my new perfume). When I made it out again, I put the menagerie on notice. One more skunk-like incident and they were off. All of them. I began playing San Andreas Fault, rolling over rapidly to see how many animals I could dislodge. I felt a bit guilty about this, however, Demon was pregnant again and ballooning out.
One morning I woke up and my feet were wet. “What the…” I declared, looking down the bed. Demon, who was purring loudly, calmly looked back at me. No problem there. Then I noticed little black things crawling around, little replicas of Demon. She had delivered a litter of kittens at the foot of my bed and my feet were awash in kitty after-birth! I guess I should have felt honored…
NEXT POST: Tomorrow… Halloween! I’ll conclude with a few final pumpkins from the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island and Peggy and I will square off against each other in our annual pumpkin carving contest. You’ll be the judges! 🙂