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Stray Cats

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2006 06 26 (01) Stray Cat @ Mandaluyong-e5000-10 by Terry Hollis.

By David Glenn Cox

I watch the sun go down reluctantly. This world offers little, and I
have little to offer in return. I have lost everything, so as the birds
sing at daylight's demise, I hear no music. The world has lost its
music for me; it is just an endless grind with a police siren in the

I went to Wal-Mart. God, I hate Wal-Mart, but I needed dish soap and
hand soap, and well, beer. Some days are harder than others and this
one was a difficult one. I live on hope, vain hope, that maybe I can
reach some of you. I know I’m reaching some of you because you tell me
I am. God bless you all.

I also bought cat food for forty-four cents a can to feed the stray
kittens outside my door. My heart goes out to them because they are
alone in this world and no one gives a phuck about them. They are
siblings and I named them Moxie and Blackie. I watched as they ate
their fill, then just for a moment they began to play on my door mat
and it reduced me to tears. For just a moment they could forget their
situation and play like kittens. Then a full-grown stray showed up and
they remembered their place in this life and retreated under a car.
They are the unloved and unwanted, burdensome minutia striving for a
life in a world that doesn’t want them in it.

I relate because I am one of the millions who have lost homes and
spouses and jobs and futures. We live on our past now because it is all
we have, like a dream, a mirage. Was it ever really real? Did we ever
have a happy life with happy children and a happy spouse? I understand
and I want to make you understand, as well, when your spouse is
employed and you cannot find a job it is easier for that spouse to
blame the person rather than the situation because it gives them an
out. A free pass, so they can cast you adrift because it is your
failing and not the situation.

How can you blame the situation? You should find a job even if there
are none; you should cringe and crawl and take jobs that wouldn’t pay
enough to keep the wolf from the door, as a sign of your devotion.
When, in fact, it is a fantasy, a make-believe dream that if you took
that job that cost more in gas and laundry than it paid that somehow it
would all work out. Yet to paraphrase Twain, "It’s troublesome to do
right and it ain’t no trouble to do wrong and the wages are just the

I have contemplated taking my own life, not in some melodramatic
movie scene but instead as a patron tired of the movie melodrama. To
cast down my popcorn, disgruntled by a lousy plot, and hit the bricks.
Like a salmon, I have swam upstream and now I am tired; I have done my
bit and now I look for a back channel in which to rest. We are
disjointed and separated, yet we are connected by what is going on and
by what is happening to us and being done to us. I am not alone; I see
you out there in fortress America. I have seen your homes boarded up
and your cars repossessed. I wonder where have you gone? Just like
those kittens, I wonder where will you go and what will become of you
when the thunder crashes and the rain pours down?

Why doesn’t this country give a phuck about us? If they can rescue
banks and mortgage companies and automakers and insurance companies,
why can’t they rescue us who have become as stray cats in this society?
If they are not going to help us, why not at least offer us suicide
booths or Kool-Aid stations to give us an out?

I look for jobs and it makes me angry, Tom Joad angry, job listings
that don’t say what the job is or how much it pays. Like picking
peaches for a nickel a basket, but my basket fills with rage and I want
to scream, "Phuck You! Phuck you and your bullshit job!" I’d rather
drink the Kool-Aid. At least with the Kool-Aid I control my own destiny
and don’t need to snivel, hat in hand, mumbling, "please sir?"

But I can’t do it, I can’t drink the Kool-Aid, I must try again to
break through. I have a computer and a brain and maybe this time I can
reach you. Reach you to make you understand that you are me and I am
you. I am homeless and you can become homeless, too; you are not
indemnified. Your husband or wife will leave you because you are
unemployed. They will not go down with you!

They will kick you to the curb because it is easier to blame you
than to accept the situation. "Till death do you part" rings hollow
when the mailman brings only threats. It is better to pluck out an eye
than to corrupt the whole body. So we are cast out, into a world which
has taken everything from us and now expects us to say please for the
privilege of shoveling its crap.

But you out there, who are like me; you are all that I hold on to. I
understand you and relate to you. I am inverted by you, converted by
you. My life is no longer about wants; I want nothing for myself. I
have no more dreams for myself but only for you. I am liberated by the
sense that they can take nothing more from me, not even my life, for I
don’t give a phuck about that any more myself.

I want to see change, not marginal change but real change, because
without it you’re all no better off than I am, only you’re still
clinging to the illusion that it will get better. The cable news
channel says so, but they lie because that’s their job. To lie and tell
you it's not so when it is so. To tell lies that look ten foot tall
from in the house but out in the street where I live you can see them
for what they really are. Lies to protect those who put us here and who
fear that the government will spend their precious money trying to
assist us.

Well then, leave no room in your luggage for patience and dignity,
you won’t need them. You will need to find extra room for repressed
rage. You will begin to realize that this government that claims to
represent you cares no more about you than stray cats; you’re just a
thump in the wheel well of their limosine. When that reality hits you,
the scales will fall from your eyes; you will no longer see political
parties, the party's over and you weren’t invitied.

We need to stop traffic and to stand in the street, to grab this
society by the testicles and shout, "This is our country. Either share
it or we’ll take it from you!

"His is a relationship to his little local bank or local loan
company. It is a sad fact that even though the local lender, in many
cases, does not want to evict the farmer or home-owner by foreclosure
proceedings, he is forced to do so in order to keep his bank or company
solvent. Here should be an objective of Government itself, to provide
at least as much assistance to the little fellow as it is now giving to
the large banks and corporations. That is another example of building
from the bottom up."

(Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Mortgages modified under the Obama plan: 9,000.

Foreclosure notices sent out since the plan was implemented: 800,000.

Democratically-controlled Senate votes down mortgage assistance for home owners 51 to 45

(photo by Terry Hollis)