The Cat Murder Caper, evidence erased

Trip Start Sep 04, 2010
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Saturday, September 18, 2010

First thing today,I want to find the trailer. Last time I was there -- 1990, so, what has changed in 20 years? Has it rotted and fallen apart? Are the streets renamed? Nothing looks the same to me, this sleepy village where trailers abounded and tiny fishing cabins were the norm; the trees around were draped in Spanish moss and armadillos scuttled over sandy grass; the kids would flashlight-hunt for them at night. You fished in big wide hats and long sleeved shirts, and every evening sprayed yourself with BugOff, or used the greasy cream, to keep the dread mosquito dis-attracted to your skin. They buzzed in swarms, so thick that you could see the cloud of them.

I do not remember the address. We call Seattle, asked Matt's Dad to look it up, he has no luck. We drive around and round, describing what we see. It doesn't sound like anything he can recall. We find a few old streets, creep down the narrow lanes, searching for the graveyard full of cats, that Papa shot one day. The story goes like this -- each evening Papa's cleaned the fish they'd caught that day, on a table in the yard, under the palmetto trees. He flung the fish remains onto the ground when he was done, hosed the table down.

Now, this attracted cats, of course. Cats came in gangs, waiting for each evening's feed. At night, they crawled underneath the trailer to camp out. The cats, and their fleas. Eventually the fleas sought higher ground, and eased their way into the trailer, biting feet and legs of everyone inside. Papa and Mama, and Rick and Mike, drinking Mountain Dew after a hard day on the Gulf, and scratching all their itches.

Till one day, when Papa got mad. Now, you don't want to get Papa mad. "I have scratched my last itch!" he said. He pulled out his pistol and shot every cat he could see. Rick, who was about 11 then, took one look at the carnage and burst into sobs. Giant, heaving, broken-hearted sobs. You see, we always had a cat, we LOVED our cats, and a Cat Murderer was up there with Jesse James, or worse, the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Mama took charge at this point, consoling Rick, and giving Papa a little what-for. So a much-chagrined grandpa got out the shovel and dug a big, big hole. Mama brought out the Bible. They had a first-class funeral for those cats, Papa praying that their dear souls be taken straight to heaven, where they could eat fresh fish every day, and walk around the Golden Streets with flea-free fur. Rick led the singing, Amazing grace, how sweet the cats. Mike helped Papa pat the dirt down over the grave, and put up a marking stick, In Memory Of. 

Matt and I could find no sign of a trailer with a rounded little mound beside. Just high-rises now, devoid of stories, slack on memories. I drove along the coast, still searching for familiar, and finding only change. I stopped at the Florida line for a photo op, then turned around. 

The beach? Matt said again. What is there to do?  I decided to give it up, and headed for Mobile.

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