I woke to a clean, crisp Saturday of peerless blue skies. I thought it was cloudless until I saw a small benign puff of cotton wool to the west that failed to pierce the purity of the azure. It was cold and dazzlingly pristine. it was perfectly formed and sculptured like a river of ice. Nothing could go wrong on this day.
But the idea of the blemish was at the back of my mind. I felt like a priest who looks into the turquoise, ice pool eyes of his most beautiful and devout churchgoer armed with the rumor that she works as a courtesan when the sun goes down.
What bothered me was not the heavens but the earth. The ragged street scene, the cheapened houses of flimsy wood with their rotting roofs, a bloated bag of trash, the grass now smeared with brown, the patched up car next door that rattles round the streets on drug deals. And there are worse neighborhoods in town.
More worrying still was the thicket figure of S. who was ambling toward the door. S is the flip side of the three wise men. He isn't wise and he ambles from the west. Invariably he brings bad tidings, or failing that, he traps you into a tedious conversation about how he'd rather be hunting bear.
He's at the door and in my face. Wide and bristly. Eyes with no color or substance or form. The clear blue sky is vanquished.
After my usual key fumbling act (The chain is too crowded. I should be a jailer) the barrier is removed.
"I hear your cat has gone," he tells me.
"Yes." Gigs vanished on Wednesday. At first I wasn't so concerned. Just like the neighbors' kids have sleepovers with my daughter at times, Gigs has sleepovers. But already I was getting worried. The boy had been hanging close in recent months and now there was no sign of him. He's a big, old dependable boy who has been around such a long time he's sometimes overlooked. He's always placid and friendly, apart from the time he bit my mother.
"Just three houses up they just lost two cats," he said. "Smokey and Tigger. Just gawn. They called the police."
It was three days ago. Just five days ago Smokey had a standoff with Gigs, a wailing affair that went long into the night. They had both vanished at the same time.
I sought some reassurance from S. You need that sort of thing at Christmas.
"A guy up by Seven-11 a couple of years ago was kidnapping um. He used to torture them," S tells me.
The blemish grew all morning as we called the shelter and the police. It ate itself into a filthy, grasping black hole that turned itself inside out and showed us the foul entrails of the world or, more specifically, the dirty works of man. And while the world may not have died with the Mayan Calendar, we die a little every day.
The disappearance of a couple of cats on a day of breathtaking blue skies is small in the grand scheme of things but it once again makes me think of how the beauty around is soured by the ugliness of so many earthly souls.
I have never been to Eagle's Nest but I have heard it's breathtakingly beautiful. It overlooks the picture-postcard beautiful town of Berchtesgaden. Adolf Hitler stayed her when he wrote Mein Kampf, his sinister manifesto which would throw all of Europe into darkness.
Overlooking these snow covered mountains in Bavaria, he plotted World War Two and the destruction of the Jews. There can surely be no greater contrast than the clean and dazzling air of the Bavarian mountains and the dead end railroad line that led to the gatehouse and the towers and the satanic and foul smelling building that housed the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
This post has become far more profound than I meant it to be, and runs the risk of belittling the greatest horror of the 20th century by linking it to the disappearance of a couple of felines.
This is not the intention. Still it puzzles and disturbs me that mankind can dream up such mean schemes when such beauty is all above and around.
On a lighter note Blogger has this cool new feature in that all you have to do is press the + button and you can link to another blogger instantly like +Jennifer Bhargava or +Mina Lobo or +Tim Riley or +Lisa Vooght or +Betty Manousos or +David Macaulay - well I could certainly get into this...