It has been said that a cat has 9 lives. Such nonsense. I know better.
Oh, I know of cats that seem to be able to slip in and out of trouble with
apparent ease, but this saying about 9 lives is just the humans' way of explaining
what they can't explain. Humans are a strange lot. They can't just accept
their fate. They want everything to be logical and explainable. And if it
can't be dealt with logically, then they use excuses like 'Mother Nature'
or 'Santa Claus' or my personal favorite, 'The Newspaper Fairy'.
I have a human right now who is having trouble accepting his fate. His name is Gary Hobson and I am responsible for him. It is a tough assignment, but then, they all are at first. However, I am getting ahead of myself.
The human before Gary was Lucius Snow. Snow was a typesetter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago's morning newspaper. Sometimes he would set the type for the paper before the reporter gave him the story. You see, he knew what the news was before the reporter did. Some used to wonder at him for it, but most of them just ignored him - us. Our fates, Snow's and mine, were to help people before they knew they were going to need help. We helped Gary once, when he was 11. Snow got to Gary just before the car hit him. Gary didn't know it at the time, and Snow only suspected, that Gary would be my next assignment.
When Snow died, I moved on to Gary. He was having a rough time in his life and was due for a change. His wife had left him and he hated his job. He needed direction and a purpose. Naturally, he didn't believe the newspaper and it took a while for me to convince him, but I am patient. Gary has a couple of friends to help him. Chuck is a good guy in a pinch but not one to be wholly trusted with the responsibilities of this job. Marissa is good for Gary. She understands that some things don't need to be explained. She's good for me too, because she knows the right way to scratch my ears. Ear scratching is an art and not many humans know the correct way to do this. Marissa definitely has the touch. But, I digress.
As I mentioned, Gary was, and is, a tough assignment. For one thing, he thinks he doesn't like cats but he accepts me as a necessary evil. (He also has a few things to learn about feeding me. I mean, cereal with milk is good, pizza is not. More tuna would be best.) I come to him every morning with the *early edition* of the Chicago Sun-Times. It's called the early edition because it tells what is going to happen before it happens. Then Gary, with some guidance from me, has to do something to change the news. It's his choice, always has been, to handle these situations as he sees fit. Of course, not everyone can handle the responsibilities. There is a long screening process. Remember, Gary was selected when he was 11. He also undergoes performance exams. Most of the time, he doesn't realize it. One time he knew the *boss* was watching him. That was the time Joey Clams showed up from New York. Nearly ruined everything for Gary. The *boss* decided to give Joey another chance and sent him to Dayton. With a dog, no less! 'Course Joey is one of those flashy sorts. A dog would suit his style. Dogs are so.....needy. Gary needs me, I don't need him.
OK, let me explain. Gary is a great guy. He is sharp, a good listener (when
he's not distracted), and really cares about what happens to people. Sometimes,
though, he needs some help. Once he was trying to find a kid who had run
away from home. It was one of those below freezing nights that Chicago is
famous for. Gary found the kid, but part of the building collapsed and they
were trapped. Just as he was ready to give up, I showed him a way out of
the building to the ambulance that Chuck conveniently had waiting. See? I
told you Chuck was a good friend. Another time, Gary was blinded and I led
him into a burning building to get out another trapped kid. Or, how about
the Halloween when the 2 witches caught him? I had to change my strips for
him - quite literally.
Sometimes he suspects there is magic involved. Well, you be the judge. Once, in order to protect a lot of people, Gary and I had to go way back in time to the Chicago Fire. He thought he was supposed to stop the fire, but his job was really to get a young black kid and his sister safely out of town. That young kid saw that there were good people in the world and he made something of himself. How did that help the current Chicago? A descendent of the kid owned the project that was going to cause the problem and he put a stop to it. And, remember those 2 witches? Gary thought they were fakes. Yes....that is what Gary thought.
Another *occurance* that puzzles Gary is with the paper itself. If he doesn't find the article, the paper will *blow* open to the page. It'll keep coming to him even when he throws it away, burns it, or if Bernie gives it away. Speaking of Bernie, we've (the boss and I), enlisted his help a few times. I went for a ride with him one time (scary!) to let him know Gary was in trouble. Another time I had to go to Hickory to bring Bernie to Chicago. Bernie's Gary's dad. He is a good guy and he drives Gary nuts. Interesting pair to observe! How about the time the paper was in Russian? Or the time I showed up in the jury box? Yes, all in all, this has been a good assignment.
I've had help too, at times. There was the doorman from the Blackstone, Boswell. He was good at letting people into Gary's room. He also made sure Gary always had his copy of Lost Chicago. Then there was Santa Claus. Santa did most of his work through Chuck and they saved a bar full of people from a guy with a bomb. My personal favorite was the museum showing of Bastet. We nearly lost Marissa. That was a close one, but it was good to renew an acquaintance with an old, old friend. Once, Gary almost gave up entirely. We had to pull Lucius Snow back for that one. Snow told Gary the choice was his, and to count the living, not the dead. Gary could see how important he was - and chose to stay. He calmed down after that; became somewhat more accepting.
Of course, Gary sees the paper (and me) as a disruption in his life. I think Lucius felt that way too. Lucius was in love with a woman once and left her to tend to his responsibilities. Gary has had some lady friends after Marcia dumped him, but I'm not going to get involved in that discussion! Except....Well, maybe just a comment or two. Marissa is probably the best friend he has. Not romantically involved, but definitely soul mates. There have been others: Meredith, Emma, Renee, Rebecca, Erica, a princess, Brigatti. Brigatti hates me. She says she's allergic to cats. Allergic to cats! - my mother's whiskers! Says I make her sneeze. That is, as I said earlier, nonsense! It's just another example of a human jumping for an explanation that simply doesn't make sense. AND - contrary to what Gary thinks, I am not interrupting his social life. Of course, I'm first. He'll just have to work around me.
Oh well....enough of my rambling, where was I? Someday Gary will no longer work with the paper and it will be time for me to move on. I understand there is a little girl chosen for my next assignment.
I hope she can scratch my ears the right way. Ear scratching is an art.
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