priorities – a cat, and me

I was going to a game shop near Taipei Main Station to exchange my non-functioning copy of GRAW2 for a working one when I saw this:

It was lying in the middle of a crosswalk, in front of a taxi that was veering to the side of the road to avoid it, mirroring the shifting crowds of shoppers, twenty crossing every minute, hundreds
crossing every hour, carefully skirting around that spot to as to avoid it on their sunday trip to the shopping district. Its eyes looked past me into the distance, its yellow eyes unblinking, body motionless. It seemed hidden in the field of white bars, accented by the cat’s brown fur and spackles of blood in front of it. It must have been hit by a car, as this was a busy area with cars and scooters moving through the area, looking for passengers, looking for parking.

I could only think of one thing: I must move this cat to the side of the road.

I recalled going home one night along Fuxing N. Road, where I saw an animal strewn across the road. It was not roadkill. Not anymore. It was a scattering of dull, pink, fibrous muscle atop the pavement in the right lane. I could not tell what animal it was, dog or cat or other. Not anymore.

I didn’t want this to happen to the cat, so I walked out to the center of the road and carefully slid my hands underneath its small frame, careful to hold the cat evenly, supporting its head to tail with my two hands. Something in me was worried that it could be dangerous, that I shouldn’t be doing this. The rest of me didn’t care. Its fur was dry, soft, as it would be normally. It lay still in my hands, its body light but with a weight of its own. I walked to the nearby corner and set it down, its white fur breaking the red no parking strip of the curb, where it would be easily seen yet not easily hit again, and I walked away.

I walked west, then north towards the game area to exchange my game disc. I didn’t know what exactly I was doing, a million thoughts running through my head. I think too much. I know this. What else could I have done? Should I have called some sort of animal services? I didn’t know if there was anything similar in Taipei. Should I have found another place to place the body? Maybe a trashcan, but seemed wrong, too cruel to dispose of a cat as such. Maybe some dirt, but that would be near impossible to find near the main train and subway station. Maybe a veterinarian, I could call my own and see what he could do with the body. But what could he really do? How would I even bring the cat? I couldn’t just carry it into a taxi and tell him to drive. Could I have given some sort of last rites for the cat? Shit. I should have. At least something. Shit. I didn’t even close the cat’s eyes, so that it could finally sleep. Shit. I haven’t even checked the cat’s eyes to see if its pupils would dilate, to see if it could be….

…alive? there wasn’t much blood, just specks out on the street – it hadn’t bled out – the fur was dry – the body had not gone cold – it was sunny outside so maybe that’s it but still – i hadn’t checked for a pulse – how could i be so stupid – the body hadn’t gone stiff – why didn’t i check for any of this – i could take it to a vet still – i would need to find a box to keep it level and cover it to take in a cab – should i call my vet – i’m so far – what if it’s still alive – could it be still alive – what should i do

I promised myself I would hurry up and finish my business at the game shop, then run back as fast as possible and examine the cat. If it showed any possible signs of life, I could take it to my vet. Then it would at least have a chance. If not, I did all I could, so be it.

I arrived at the game shop, and told the clerk my problem, that the game disc wouldn’t read, that the Xbox 360 always thought it was a DVD, and so forth. I hoped they would simply exchange the disc and I could be on my way, back to check on the cat. Not so. They took out a 360 to test the disc.

why is it taking so long to check the disc – can’t they just hurry up – what if the cat is dying while i’m dicking around with this fucking game disc – i’m already here it’s only a little bit before i can exchange this – come on just connect the a/v cables already i could do this – no don’t sync the controller you can see the problem if you just put the damn disc in and watch the error come up – god what am i doing here what are my priorities

The small 9″ TV screen brought up a blurry, cramped image of the Xbox 360 dashboard, and I ejected the tray and put in the disc quickly as I had grown impatient waiting for the wireless controller to sync. A game screen appeared, then a message saying “put this in an Xbox 360”. Finally. The shop worker tried loading the disc again.

come on can’t you see it isn’t working – just hurry up dammit – why don’t they just get it

The next time, a full read error message appears on the screen, and a co-worker tells him to simply change out the disc. He grabs a game off the shelf, opens the package, and puts it in to make sure it works. I go through the start screens and it works fine. I grab the replacement and run out of the shop.

It’s hot outside and I’m sweating, my face becoming slick as I run down the street in bursts. I want to wipe my face, but I’ve recently touched a dead cat. Not dead. I don’t know yet. I have to check.

I return to the crosswalk, but the cat was gone.

where did it go – what happened – who was here – i’ve only been gone fifteen to twenty minutes – did somebody take it – did somebody take it to a vet – does it look like anybody here saw what happened or who moved the cat

The curb had a tiny amount of blood where the cat used to be.

it was bleeding a little – it hasn’t bled out yet – maybe it’s still alive – who moved it – where could it be – did somebody dispose of it – there’s a nice hotel right here – maybe they moved it – maybe it looked bad with a dead cat near the entrance – it’s not that close – what if someone disposed of it in a trash can

I spent the next ten minutes peering into nearby alleys, streets, trash cans. No sign. I’m to go watch a movie with friends in half an hour and I’m late, and there’s nothing left I can do. I already missed my chance. I already made my mistake – why did I go ahead with the exchange when I could have done it some other time? Was I so wrong? What am I doing?

After the movie, I talked it over with a friend, and came to the conclusion that someone most likely had taken it to a veterinarian because the cat was gone, and it was daytime. In Taipei, nobody will touch or move an animal that has been hit on the street unless it is someone who will take the animal to a nearby hospital for help – it will lie there indefinitely. The only people who would otherwise dare or care to move it would be street cleaners. I thought back to the previous incident of the unidentifiable animal littered across the road. I was consoled by this fact some, but the empty hole of possibilities remained, and I didn’t actually know where the cat had gone to, who had moved it. Maybe I’ll find out someday. Maybe I never will.

Leave a Reply