Let's work this story backwards and forwards a bit, as though easing a pipe through a narrow hole.
Two Days Ago:
I turned and said to an innocent bystander, I don't believe in karma, especially not the kind that happens within this lifetime, as though if you kick someone, your banging your leg on a table later has anything to do with it. No, I believe the Universe is crazy and works it all out in the math of a crazy person. I wanted to kill my cats the other night, but I didn't, so the Universe put a dead cat in my path the next morning. That innocent bystander shifted away a few inches.
Ten Years Ago:
I had a Russian professor of Shakespeare who used crazy Universe math when she was a child. When she lost a marble as a little girl, she would throw another one across the room to find the first one, and when she got dirt on her petticoat, she rubbed more in to try to rub out the first dirt. She said that she always found her marbles and was spanked for staining her petticoats. The way I see it, the Universe saw my two live cats wished dead and threw a dead cat at me.
I know. I always make the most sense. Of course, A Wish For Two Cats Dead = One Surprise Actual Dead Cat. That's the Universe's way of saying it was thinking of me.
Four Days Ago:
After the cat-induced kitchen chaos, part of me wished my destructive, idiot cats dead, because, well, they are idiots who destroy stuff. That night, I dreamt of several scenarios in which one or both of them were lying peacefully somewhere, having just passed on as though they went to sleep. I felt no remorse, no grief. I only felt a sense that everything was as it should be. My sweet kitties were dead, and that was good as far as my dream self was concerned. I woke up feeling guilty about my nighttime, unconscious sociopathy, so I gave each of them extra pets as I left for work. Who couldn't?
I can't stop showing this photograph of Oskar and Onion.
It is the only proof I have of their good sides.
Three Days Ago:
On the way to my bus stop, I saw this huge rottweiler that I generally avoid like herpes. He behaves like a normal dog and roots around in his yard when other people walk past, but when I walk past, he feels the need to curl his lip, snarl, spray spittle, and run menacingly at his chainlink fence, which fence I find entirely too low for the mass of aggressive canine on the other side of it. My usual tactic is to cross the street and avoid having to be within arm's reach of his impressive eye teeth, but I paused when I noticed that both he and his owner were standing still in the yard together staring down at an old coat outside their fence.
I felt too embarrassed to suddenly cross the street right in front of the dog's owner, so I continued along the sidewalk, and the closer I came, the more sure I was that that was not an old coat abandoned outside their fence. It seemed to get smaller and darker. Was it a big scarf? A toque? And then, it occurred to me that winter apparel, aside from the mink stole variety, does not sport four legs. Or a mouth. Or a yet-to-dry pool of blood extending from said mouth.
The dog's owner looked at me nervously and said I don't know how this happened. I could tell he thought that I figured it was his dog that had killed the cat, but it was apparent to me that the cat had probably been hit by a car earlier that morning and crawled to its death on the sidewalk. I told him as much, and he looked relieved. The three of us stood and stared down at her.
Do you recognize it? he said.
No, I said, but it doesn't look that old.
Yeah, he said, I guess you're right.
I turned and continued on to my bus. The rottweiler never looked up at me. He remained fixated on the cat, waiting for it to move.