“People don’t understand,” my dad flips his newspaper and folds it away. Today he’s serious. The documentary on the Vietnam War is in its fifth night on PBS. “We’re an empire. We have to get involved.”
I don't want to have that conversation, but I remind him about the cats. “I saw the black cat in the yard.”
“He doesn’t belong here. I just have to get around to shooting him. His days are numbered.” My dad coughs.
“Why? How is he any different? At least he's pretty.”
“He beats up our Toms.”
“They beat up each other. Why do you think you know what’s going on? We have no idea.” He looks at me and then turns up the television.
“Just don’t talk to me about it. Okay?”
“The documentary? I'm not.”
“If he’s gone, it's-” I can't see the gun from the couch that I know stands by the kitchen door.
“Because we’re an empire.”
“People don’t understand,” my dad shifts in his chair and turns his head towards me. Today he’s sarcastic. We’re watching an army drama. The soldiers are about to endanger their own lives because they are compelled to save people. “We’re the Americans. We’re the only ones who care about children dying.”
I don't want to see what happens next, but a separate image comes to mind. “The black kitten’s eye is open.”
“I saw that. He's trying to eat with the rest of them. Doesn't sleep with them though.”
“Why? He's just a kitten. They don't need to feel threatened.”
"He's not one of them."
“The one mother that took the gray kitten is letting him nurse though.”
He pops a handful of nuts in his mouth.
“Just don't tell me if something happens. I can't watch.”
“The television show? Lots of killing.”
“If he lives, it's-” I turn my back towards the television as the soldier cradles the young boy after he dies.
“Because we’re the good guys.”
“People don’t understand,” my dad walks across the yard as my car pulls in. Today he’s giddy. While I was at work he built his winter cat house. “It’s so much fun to have a project. I didn’t waste any straw either.”
I don't want any creature to shiver in the cold winter ice yet. “You’re relationship with those cats is so weird.”
“I didn’t have to buy anything but calk. I don’t know what I’ll do if a cat dies in there though.”
“Why? That happens. I'm not sure if that's why all the cats don't all use the house.”
“I was too excited using all the mismatched boards to get everything tight. Afterwards, I realized I couldn’t get in.”
“That one group slept in a crowd against the corner of the house from February on.”
He removes his wide brimmed hat.
"Just stop listing all the things you pretend to know that they need."
“Well, I feel bad for them anyway. I had to do something.”
“If you help, let's finally be honest, it's-”
“Because I needed something to do."
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