Having grown up with cats, I am biased, but this short excerpt is one of my favorite sections from Chronic: A Sick Novel, a book about four folks with different maladies who live together. The character named Paul has MS, as do I. Deana has Parkinson’s. Bolton is in a wheelchair. Albert is in remission from cancer.
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“Are you sure you don’t have any more questions?” asks Bolton.
Deena laughs. “Just one, and then your excuse for procrastinating is leaving the living room. How was your practice? And how is Paul?
“Practice was freaking amazing. Look at this.” Bolton points down to the basketball beside his wheelchair. “And I have a new sports wheelchair folded up in the front hallway. As for Paul, that guy really pushes himself. I think he’s asleep now.”
“We’re good at not comparing symptoms, but I think he’s running on the lowest energy of all of us.”
“But damn, he does run.”
Before Deena heads off to her room, Albert arrives home. He is carrying the plant box in one arm and holding on to a large canvas bag in his other hand.
“Holy crap!” Deena runs to the door. “Let me give you a hand.”
Puffing, Albert hands the plant box to her. “Put the plants on the kitchen table, if you don’t mind.”
“Consider it done.”
“What’s in the huge bag?” Bolton asks.
“Is Paul here?” asks Albert, putting the plastic bag on the floor.
Deena comes in from the kitchen just as Paul steps out of his bedroom. “Did I hear my name being called?” he asks as he scratches his sleepy head.
Albert pulls a box from the bag. There is a cage in the box. “Since you are all here…” He lifts the cage out of the box and opens its door. A small furry head pokes out the door.
“Kitty!” says Paul.
“I’m sorry I didn’t ask. I can take him back if anybody is allergic or objects.”
“Kitty!” Paul says again moving to the cage and getting on his knees.
“I take it that you’re okay with it,” smiles Albert. “Deena? Bolton?”
Deena laughs. “Like plants, I have no objection. But I won’t be watering it either.”
“Santali had cats. We got along, more or less,” says Bolton.
Paul has lifted the kitten from the cage and is lying on his back with the kitten on his chest, pawing at his shirt.
Albert laughs at Paul. “This box is the kitty litter box. I’ll put it on my side of the room and keep it clean. Are you okay with that?” he asks Bolton.
“Not a problem, but I suspect you can put it in Paul’s room.”
Everybody laughs as the kitten crawls over Paul’s face and paws at his hair. “Kitty,” Paul gurgles with a kitten foot in his mouth.
* * * *
That has been a short excerpt from Chronic: A Sick Novel, a book about four folks with different maladies who live together.