Life's Iconicity
Against All Hope

Why I Love Cheerwine: A Story (Part Eight)

Cheerwine_6[Mystic cats?  A journey?  We leave Brigette there in Rose gardens and return to Henry again, as the story continues.  Something is changing.  Read the whole story in progress, as revised, here.]

While Henry slept fitfully, his legs splayed over the bed where he had fallen in his clothes, momentous things were happening in the world outside.  Sam was perched on the window sill outside Henry's room, ears alert, eyes flashing the moon's suggestive glow.  In his cat-sized soul, Sam could feel it -- the change coming on, something wafting in on the breeze, a blanket of otherworldly change, not evil but altogether mysterious.  Sam sniffed at the air, whiskers twitching, intuitively sensing an inarticulable, slight seismic shift in space and time.

In Henry's dream there was Josie Griffin again, laughing, blond hair flapping in the wind as Henry chased her round and round her house, and then, there was Josie chasing him round the house, him running in his stumbling clumsy way, only when he looked back he saw it wasn't Josie at all but a white coated, stern Mrs. Hightower who had him by the collar, saying "Take these, Henry, now, you'll feel better, Henry," with Henry tying to pull away only to find he was paralyzed, unable to move away.  "Now, now, Henry," said Mrs. Hightower.

Henry woke to find himself alone in the dark, his hands clenched, his breathing labored.  He said two words: "God.  Help."  It took a moment before he even realized that he had said them aloud, the sound of his own voice seeming to echo off the bare walls of the bedroom.  5:15 read the clock.  Henry lifted the window shade and rested his nose on the cool glass of the window pane.  Two yellowish cat eyes stared back, startling him until he realized it was Sam -- Sam the mystic, the seer, the cat who knew all but said little.  That was what Henry's Mama used to say.  "Mama, what's 'mystic' mean?" he'd say.  And she'd just say, "Special, Henry, just special.  Sort of like you, Henry."   Henry never did quite make the connection between himself -- a pale-skinned two legged being, and Sam, a furry four legged creature much given to sleeping and eating.  And yet when he looked in Sam's eyes, he knew what to do.  Then he knew what he had to do.

Standing up, Henry switched on the light and quickly dressed -- jeans, t-shirt, comfortable shoes.  Then he reached for his backpack and stuffed in an extra change of clothes.  Finally, he reached up to the top of his chest of drawers and carefully brought down a wooden box, handmade just for him.  Opening it, he pulled out all the money inside, counting about $400.00 and stuffing it in his pocket.  It was a large part of what Henry had saved from the check he received each month.

Turning off the light, Henry walked down the hall, noticing in the moonlight each and every picture on the walls, as if he'd never seen them before.  There was the family photo:  Mother, Father (who he did not know), and himself, all smiling awkwardly against a fake forest backdrop.  He paused for a moment and looked at his mother smiling, and he smiled.  "I have to go now," he thought.  "Time's a'wastin'."

Opening the front door, he let the screen shut behind him, this time letting it shut slowly.  He jumped the three steps from the porch in one stride and brushed against the ankle high grass as he strode for the road.  Looking back, he saw Sam sitting on the porch now, watching him, wise cat eyes.  "Sam, I'm going.  You'll be OK now."  Sam just turned and walked away.  Of course he'd be OK.

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