the short story project


Kim Smyth

How I Found Callie

She came to be mine after my kids rescued her from my dad’s back yard, or rather, from the old, decrepit boat in my dad’s back yard. Josh had heard her mewling and he and Sean had climbed up in the somehow still standing shell of a boat that he and my brother were going to restore one day, and pulled her from a small space under the hull. One of them called me and asked if I could take her to the pound, Josh couldn’t have her in the apartments and Sean is allergic, Dad is too old and frail to handle another pet, so I said I’d come get her.

I brought her home instead, thinking about my dogs and wondering could I keep her, or would they fight each other? She was so tiny and I’d been wanting another cat for awhile, having to leave Boots when we moved back from Southeast Texas had left a hole in my heart. Taking her in the box, I sat on the couch out back on our patio and let my Shorkies, Whiskey and Brandy come smell her, introducing them slowly and carefully. She was playful and feisty even then. Black Tuxedo cat with white socks, I tried to think of a cute name and came up with Callie, a shortened version of the Spanish Words for white socks…calcetines blanco. I must have been practicing my Spanish back then, my youngest son Chris was working for a restoration company and he had been teaching me, since most of his coworkers were Mexican and he had learned out of necessity. No way was he going to let them get one over on him. Now he is almost fluent.

I knew my husband would protest at first, but I didn’t have the heart to take her to the shelter. I bought everything needed to set her up, litter box, tiny silver food and water bowls, formula. I called and asked how old she had to be before spaying and set her up at the Texas Coalition for her operation and first shots, since this was a cheaper way than the vet. That way I was sending the message to my husband that he need not worry, she was my cat and I would take care of everything. Eventually he came to tolerate, if not love her as much as me, even though she’s a bit crazy. She brings us trophies, since I trained her early to go in and out the doggy door. My hope was that I could get rid of the litter box, but haven’t yet. I feel the need to keep her safe at night, not prowling the neighborhood where she might get attacked by coyotes, so the litter box stays in the the mostly unused tub in the guest bathroom. It’s a perfect arrangement really.

The wildest thing she did so far was bring a large bird into the house, he fought tooth and nail to get away and I found him upon my return from an errand one rainy morning. The house looked as if someone had broken in, feathers all over the floor, blood or something on the kitchen floor in tiny droplets, everything raked off my end tables. I could not figure out at first what had happened here, I checked all the doors and windows twice, finally my eye was drawn to the ornamental clock in the living room. There atop it resided what I believe was a blue jay. He was alive but very traumatized. Carefully, I first opened the sliding glass door, then tried to coax him into a broom so I could carry him out. That didn’t work, but he flew into the dining room, fell down into the corner and I threw a dish towel over him. Unbelievably, he allowed me to pick him up then and carry him outside, I set him on top of the grill and inspected him for injuries. Afterwards, I came back inside to clean up the mess, blocked the doggy door to keep Callie inside, and about thirty minutes later, I glanced outside and he had flown away. 

Im amazed at the way she can come and go, yet knows this is her home and stays with us instead of finding another owner to hang out with. I guess she knows where her bread is buttered, that she is loved here, and maybe even realized she was rescued from a potentially dangerous situation. Maybe she’s having a secret affair with Whiskey, I find them curled up together, Whisky looking guilty, like what, a dog can’t have a cat for a best friend? She even lets Callie bathe her from time to time. Brandy’s relationship is more if a love-hate one, most of the time she simply tolerates her, yet I catch them play-fighting on the rug occasionally. Despite my husband’s insistence the arrangement would never work, everyone gets along harmoniously and I’m proud of my training all three of them to go in and out the doggy door. I guess I get it right every once in a while.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *