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4 May 1996

Damnedest Cat

My neighbors, the Spanjers, had the damnedest cat. It was an old tomcat named Petunia, and all it did was sit in the middle of the kitchen door all day. Every day. Now, you might expect that sort of stubborn laziness from an old cat, but what made Petunia so odd--even for a cat--was that he'd been sitting in the same doorway ever since he was a little kitten. All the time.

Any behavior that deviates even slightly from the currently accepted norms is the source of much speculation, and so it was that Petunia's decision to spend virtually his entire life planted in one of the busiest doorways of the Spanjers' huge house generated a number of theories.

First, it was thought that perhaps Petunia was the runt of the litter. Or maybe that he'd been abused as a kitten. One friend suggested that naming a cat Petunia was pretty weird and would probably explain a lot. These theories were of little help, as were veterinarians: a string of them pronounced Petunia to be of good health.

As for myself, I just thought Petunia enjoyed the attention of everyone who had to step over him. Or at least, that's what I thought until after the big earthquake leveled most of our neighborhood while I was away.

When I returned, I found my house was completely destroyed, as was the Spanjers'. I watched in shock as the emergency team removed body after body from wreckage that was their house.

When I'd just about given up hope, I heard one of the rescuers exclaim "He's alive!" as he pulled Petunia from the wreckage. Evidently the door frame had shielded him from the collapsing house that had killed the entire family.

I took Petunia to live with me as a living reminder of my lost friends, but I think I may have made a terrible mistake. Petunia just sits all day in the doorway of my kitchen looking perfectly contented.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart