a story by Sue Simmons
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My lunch hours at work were getting pretty boring. Working 10 miles away from home, I soon realized that I could not continue to drive home for lunch every day. So, instead of shopping during my lunch hours, I decided to visit my local animal shelter once or twice a week. That practice started in the early spring and before I knew it, it was almost fall and I was still doing it. I felt so sorry for all the animals there, but no one in particular ever caught my eye.
Then, one day while visiting the shelter and bending over to look into each cat cage, I felt a tap on my backside. I straightened up, thinking someone else had come into the room, but no one was there. I turned to look back again into the cages and then out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of a paw that was trying to reach me. It was a new cat that I had not seen before. It was the most beautiful Siamese cat that I had ever laid eyes on. He had the prettiest blue eyes and a coat of tan and chocolate, soft as suede.
He started purring like a diesel truck and rubbed his cheeks against my fingers, as I poked them in his cage. I wanted him! Yet, I had no way of taking him back to work, and the shelter said they could not hold the cat. "First come first serve," they had said. Driving back to work that day, all I could think about was that beautiful cat. I knew I had to have him!
I rushed in the door at work, punching my time card a minute late. My friend, Penny, looked at me and could easily read the excitement in my face. Penny is one of the biggest cat loving people that I know, so I set out to tell her all about the new friend I had made.
"That cat tapping you on the backside is an omen, Sue. He picked you," Penny said. The shelter closed at the same time I got off work, 5:00 PM. The next day was Saturday and
the doors to the shelter did not open until noon.
The thought of picking up the cat the next day excited and overpowered me and my sleep was restless that night, wondering if the cat would still be there the next day. Noon could not come around fast enough for me on that Saturday morning. My husband, Ron, and I made our way to town. We were early. Five more minutes and the shelter would open. Fear started to gnaw at me, worrying that maybe someone else had already adopted him. I told myself to think "positively."
The doors to the shelter opened and I rushed to the cat area, and there he sat purring and rubbing against the cage door. I told him I would be back in a few minutes and with that he seemed to understand. I went out to the front counter and filled out all the forms to adopt him. At last, he was mine!
On the way home, I wondered how the new cat and our dog, Gizmo, were going to get along. I wondered, too, if that cat was litter box trained, or if he had any other terrible habits I didn't know about. My fears were quickly allayed, as the young cat lay contently in my lap and purred, occasionally looking up at me and giving a soft "meow."
Arriving home, I walked up the stairs with my new friend in my arms. Our dog, Gizmo, came bounding out to meet me the minute he heard us pull up. I sat the cat down on the floor in front of him. He screeched to an abrupt halt. I was nervous at first, as to what would happen. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what our new family member would do next. The cat walked up to Gizmo and rubbed himself all over him, as if to say: "You're mine and I like you!" Gizmo stood frozen in his tracks not knowing what to think.
In the next few hours that followed, the cat inspected the house from top to bottom. He was home and he liked it there.
Now to decide on a name! So many names...but this cat needed just the right one. One day outside, while working in my flowerbed, the cat came to the corner of the house and peeked around the corner to watch what I was doing. We started playing a game of peek-a-boo. And that is how he got his name "Peekaboo," that dark chocolate, masked face peeking out at me.
He was my new friend and a member of our family now. We would take walks on our wooded property. Peek would watch, as I worked in the gardens, and we would play our own private game of peek-a-boo often.
When bedtime came, Peek was always there to say "Good night," jumping up on the bed, giving me a cheek rub and a purr and then retreating to the foot of the bed where he always slept. Occasionally, I would awake in the middle of the night and see him sitting at my side staring at me and purring. I would wrap an arm around him and hold him close for a few minutes and then he would be gone again.
Peek always knew when I was not feeling well, or if something was wrong with me. He stayed close and purred continuously. If I sat down to watch TV or read, he would be in my lap sleeping. I could tell him anything and everything. It didn't matter what it was; he would just purr as if to say "this will make it better". He was my friend.
One warm summer afternoon Peek was watching me pull weeds from the flowerbeds. Lying on the level above me, neither of us had noticed a small hummingbird darting in and out of the nasturtiums and petunias until it got so close that I could reach out and touch it. Peek and I remained still for some time, mesmerized by the little hummingbird busily feeding on nectar at the feeder. From then on, Peek and I would always make sure we took our walks by the garden, so we could watch the hummingbird flitting about. Occasionally, he would buzz around our heads and flirt with us, zipping to and fro. Being so tiny, we could never find the tiny bird's nest, but we knew it must be close by.
Late fall was coming fast and I knew that it was about time for the hummingbird to start his migration and I knew that we would soon have to say good-bye to our little friend. Then one day, we did not see the little hummingbird. Nor did we see him the next day, or the next.
One afternoon, Peek paced back and forth with concern and would not leave the flowerbed. As I started to turn, I heard a "meow" and the next thing I knew Peek was darting into the flowers and coming out with the hummingbird in his mouth. He gently laid the little bird at my feet. Oh, so tiny it was. "Now, what I am I going to do?" I thought.
Peek picked up the bird and ran to the house with me following closely at his heels. I found the tiniest eyedropper and filled it with sugar water and ever so carefully fed it to our little friend. Day after day, Peek stood close guard, watching me feed and care for the little bird. I knew that hummingbird needed to get well fast, or he would never have the strength to make the journey south for the winter.
We awoke the next day to a freak snowstorm and I knew that the little bird would not be leaving any time soon. By October, the hummingbird was buzzing all over the house and drinking his nectar from a feeder in the corner of the kitchen. Peek watched carefully over his new friend making sure I was taking good care of him. Our afternoons were filled with playing in the living room. "Hummer," as we affectionately called him, would dive- bomb Peek, and Peek would playfully swat back at him. When nightfall came, Peek would be bedded down and Hummer would come and nestle in Peek's fur coat and sleep there until morning.
These rituals went on all winter. The first signs of spring started to appear. I could sense that Hummer was ready to go outside. "Not yet!" I thought. The temperature was still too cool to let him go. Another month went by and the petunias and nasturtiums were in full bloom. It was time! Peek was at my side when I took Hummer out and let him go into the vibrant spring air. He went straight back to the same flowerbed he had always visited and began drinking the nectar from the flowers once again. Everyday, Peek and I would walk by the flowers and Hummer would take a minute to dive-bomb Peek and play. Then, back to work he would go, sipping the nectar. This went on until it was time for Hummer to leave us. On that last day, he spent more time than usual playing with Peek, and I knew in my heart that today was his final day among our flowers.
Winter hit us with a vengeance that year and Peek seemed somewhat lost and lonely without Hummer. Often, he would want to go outside, poke his nose out the door, get a whiff of the cold air and then dart right back inside. I knew that eventually Hummer would return to see us again.
Spring came soon enough and Peek would run to the flowers everyday, not waiting for me, looking for his friend. On and exceptionally warm day, Hummer returned to our garden and he and Peek began playing together again, as if they had never been separated. Summer after summer, they spent hours playing together.
All in all, we had five wonderful years together. And then one day, our puppy Gizmo died. Peek seemed to miss him a great deal and wandered listlessly around, often refusing to eat. Before long, Peek began to get so thin that I decided to take him to a veterinarian. There, they ran several tests on Peek only to discover that he had a severe cat virus. Peek had a year of ups and downs as far as his health was concerned. He had to be on antibiotics and steroids continually.
One warm spring afternoon I came home from work and saw that Peek had been in a horrific catfight. Sadly, he died that night. My world collapsed; my dearest friend was gone.
Peek is now buried out back under the large cottonwood tree and near the flowerbed where we used to take our daily walks. My new puppy and I take walks there and visit my old friend, Peek. And when I remember him, I can still sense his presence and almost feel him rubbing his soft, furry body against my cheek.
As for Hummer, he must know that Peek is buried there, because he stays close to the flowers that cover Peek's grave and every summer he returns there again to drink the nectar from Peek's flowers.
As for me, I'm just glad that I had this time with Peek,
and that out of everyone else,
he decided to pick me...
by Sue Simmons