It has always bothered me when people have to explain beyond the facts why they need my help or want my friendship. Friendship is the worse explanation of the two, for there being the leverage of need. Ramon is a creature of honor, so his few humbling forces of circumstance are never taken badly here.
We have been speaking freely for several years now, and at times his infectious smile on a black moon face, with it's long jagged scar down the cheek, eased to plain talking when he told me why my help was needed and whom he was speaking on behalf of. On one such day he told me that an important discussion is a dinner table, across which the pork and gravy is said. That was something that I already knew, and needed to hear from an other.
It was getting to the end of the month. Another lean year for a hermit in the slums. I was eating spaghetti with my fingers, taking a few strands directly from the strainer in the sink, lifting them over my head and lowering them down the hatch. Noodles was finishing a can of Seven Eternities beef chunks in gravy, skewering the last of the chunks with a hooked pawsie nail, lifting them over her head and gracefully downward into her lovely mouth. She adores this common brand of canned cat food, and I am pleased to pay a small premium for it. It's the nearest thing there is to her most favorite food. Often she will remark, "The best cat food is a cow pushed head first into a wood chipper."
"We are urbanized," I have to say, like some pathetic apology for humankind. Noblesse oblige. It's another reason I have admiration for Ramon. He is the type that values luck as it occurs in a field of misfortunes.
Noodles and Ramon are different in many ways, but agree we are all under stress for our heredity as it comes to discord with the rule of law and with common household custom. People are both tasteless and judgmental. Always watching. Always condemning each other to hell. We are all born offensive to others. It's our own fault for having the kind of facial features we are cursed with. People are entitled to a world free from others.
Ramon came to the door, I let him in, and we sat together in the kitchen for a few minutes trying to put one another at ease, as the smile on the giant alley cat's face was in storage till his work was done.
"Bruce. Bruce. My family has been doing well of late, as you know. We have had woodchucks with meat like a Brahma bull, and we have had birds that flew too close to the sun."
"You mean they flew too close to those powerful paws of yours, Ramon," I said, to break up the tension a little. The joke was not wasted and Ramon was able smile just a little. But there was a reason for the visit, and it showed beside the scar and a broken whisker. "Bruce, this time it is for a friend of my family. A friend who has not been well. He has colitis and is unable to digest the foods my family has so enjoyed this great harvest season."
Noodles listened as carefully and fully as did I. Her white and pumpkin fur coat covered every grace in the world. And, too, she could be a cynic among cats and people who thrive among these complexities. She blends the spirits and elements to good effect.
"What the fuck, Bruce, I got extra food," she said, in a brash tone that, ironically, salved the hurt of need. "Will two cans of Seven Eternities get your friend clear for a few days?"
"Yes, Noodles, two cans will permit my friend to regain his strength."
"It's in the closet by the sink, Bruce."
"Yes, Noodles, I know where we keep the food."