Sitting at home by myself the other day, with the windows open because it was so strangely warm outside again, I realized it has been quite some time since the crazy cat man had made an appearance. When we first moved in we’d see him all the time, sometimes several times a day, towing a cat on a leash down the street, yelling at it at the top of his lungs to Stop smelling that!, Yuck, back away! and Hurry up now SWEEEETIE PIE!
His favorite was a black cat named Mina – or Minnie, it was never quite clear as he was usually slurring his words pretty badly, but I’m sure the cat knew who he meant – but he sometimes had as many as three with him, all tethered and slinking down the street, one often riding on his shoulders. Occasionally his best drinking buddy would be with him, listing to and fro, following in his wake a respectful distance behind. His entourage of one.
This crazy cat man hates me when he realizes who I am because when I was studying German (aka unemployed) I was home a lot and whenever I would hear him bellow out Miiinnnnnaa! I’d run to the window, throw it wide open and gawk shamelessly until they were out of sight. He knew the floor of our building, with the red curtained window, was the one where the weird woman would stick her head out of and watch him parade past, studying his every move.
At one point I’d started to believe he had supernatural cat walking powers because every time I turned around, there he’d be. Walking past my outside table at the bar down the street, passing me on the street as I headed out to run errands. Once when I was home alone I woke up in the middle of the night for no apparant reason and lay there staring at the window, trying to fall back asleep. When nothing happened after a while I decided to look out the window to see if dawn was anywhere near. I peeked through the curtains and there was the cat man, standing silently across the street, cat on the leash.
There are plenty of other sounds that filter in through open windows that make this neighborhood special: the breaking of glass bottles at the Irish pub down the street when they take out the trash from the night before, the bickering Italian kids next door that never seem to be in school, Opera guy who belts out arias in the afteroons usually around the same time Piano Man starts up across the courtyard. I know all their sounds. The Crazy Cat man is the only person I’ve come to know.
It’s been ages since I’ve seen him holler and swear at his cats, muttering obscenities at whoever he passes. I miss him.