The next morning I found him and Nurse Flax in the courtyard. She had given him a silver rosary, a silver locket to put it in. A picture of the Holy Family was engraved upon it. Made in Italy. Nurse Flax was apparently a devout Catholic. She handed him a small bible. She was obviously attached to him for she began crying. I shook hands with her and then we drove off. I supposed I should have discussed the details of his case with her for a while. I'm sure she would have been quite helpful.
We drove for an hour; he was quiet. I got out of the car and opened the door. But he didn't get out. And I was afraid. I didn't want to hold him by his wrist. Flax had put him in the car. We got to the airport. I took his hand, as I had seen Flax hold him, and then I led him out. But I found I didn't have to hold his hand. He would stand behind me, touching me, like a shadow. Hours later we were home. But once we arrived home, he wouldn't come out of the car.
So I waited. After a minute or two, I called him by his name, softly. I somehow believed something would happen.
Then he did a very strange thing. He seemed to bend over as if he had dropped something; in this posture, he got out of the car. And then, when he had reached where I was standing on the curb, he looked up at me. He smiled at me and then began rubbing his face against my leg, gently bit my hand. It was only after he circled me twice, rubbing against me, that I realized that he was imitating a cat. I walked slowly up the staircase and up the two flights. He followed. We were getting along, much more simply than I thought.
Once we were in the house, he began miaowling. So I brought him a dish of food. I placed it on the table. He stared at me and then began eating without his hands.
Perhaps it failed to completely astonish me because I had seen him do this before. The second Christmas we had spent in Germany, we had gone, as usual, to their house. And he refused to speak to us. He would only whistle an answer. He was a bird then--a canary. This apparently had started a month before we had arrived and continued on for at least two more months after we had left. Now he was a cat. I ate my own dinner, placed a nest of blankets next to the heater and told him where to sleep. And that is where he slept that night. It was simple. I left a box of sand for him in the bathroom and that is where he would shit, squatted over.
One can get used to everything, I suppose.
I was, to tell you the truth, rather relieved that he was this way.
I knew it was simply a way in which we were going back a little, to give each other some quiet.
And then, soon, we would both figure out what to do.
I was tired of teaching anyhow. I needed to turn my life around. Being with him and sitting out on the porch each evening was as good a way as any.
He would sleep at my feet occasionally.
We went on like this for three weeks. Then in May, lying curled up on the sofa, he began staring at me. I gave back a questioning look. What did he want?
Bird eat Cat, he said.
The voice was guttural, words clawing their way out of his stomach.
Cat eat Bird.
He continued staring at me.
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