By Darlene Jennings
It was 1994 and Traci had headed off to Colorado with her boyfriend for the winter. Because the boyfriend didn’t like animals she had to leave one of her prized possessions – her cat Zachery. Now this was one ugly cat with a tooth that permanently stuck out like a dagger. And it was mean too. Once I had gone down to Charleston when she was in college to cook a nice Sunday lunch for her. I was standing at the stove carefully turning the country style steak when that damn cat jumped up on the counter and slapped the fork right out of my hand. I cut off the stove and left Traci a note that I could and would not compete with that cat and went back to Myrtle Beach. This stupid cat “ran away” on a weekly basis that sent Traci out to post a million Lost Cat posters from the College of Charleston all the way down Rutledge and the surrounding neighborhood. People all over Charleston actually knew this cat (and Traci) by name from the posters. It could be gone for days or weeks but would always show up again when you least expected it.
But I digress. So the cat was dropped off in Athens, Georgia with her sister Tami. I don’t know what instructions Traci gave her but I bet they were quickly forgotten before Traci had crossed into Alabama. In addition to the cat problem with the Colorado trip she had to leave her other prized possession – her Mazda RX7. The Mazda ended up at my house with explicit instructions about cranking it every week to be sure the battery was charged as well as moving it around so the tires would not sit in one position all winter.
It wasn’t too long before everything started to fall apart. Tami called to say that Zachery had climbed into a neighbor’s car and hence suffered death by a fan belt. She had taken him to the Georgia University vet place but they could not save poor old Zachery and he was placed in a deep freeze until final arrangements could be made. Naturally she wanted me to call and advise Traci. I pondered this for a couple of days but was having trouble finding the courage. Just when I thought I could make the call another disaster took place. Following Traci’s instructions I had tried to start the Mazda for that battery-charging thing. I tried and tried to no avail. Imagine my surprise when a neighbor knocked on my door to tell me “that little white car is on fire.” OMG…..I guess there was a spark that ignited the leaves and by the time I got outside there was no saving it. It was a charred mess. No insurance of course as it had long been paid for and Traci was only carrying liability.
I had still not informed her about Zachery and I was now confronted with having to tell her about the loss of the Mazda. What to do? What to do? Within a few days I did not have to worry about this anymore. Traci called sobbing so hard I couldn’t even understand her. Naturally I assumed that she had heard about the incidents. Not so much. I finally got her to calm down enough to tell me what was wrong. Screaming like a crazy person she yelled “All of my jewelry has been stolen.” (That was her third passion – her jewelry.)
So there was only one thing left to do and I said as calmly as possible “Well, since you are already crying and upset you may as well know that Your Cat is Dead and Your Car Burned Up!”
Postscript: Traci had the University of Georgia perform an autopsy and cremation on the stupid cat. (She still has his ashes and little bones.) As for the car I gave her $2,500 to use as a down payment on a new one. The new one ended up being a shiny red mustang that she drove for 18 years. Zachary was replaced with a terrier named Diesel who is now 12 years old and spoiled rotten. Oh, and she found her jewelry. The moral of this story is that if you have bad news to give someone…..wait something worse will come along.
Copyright 2004, Darlene Jennings
Darlene Jennings is a native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and dates herself by remembering when "we turned off the two downtown traffic lights in the winter." She grew up with sand between her toes and sand-spurs to boot. Proud mother of two and grandmother of two, Darlene has been self employed for over thirty years in Community Management. (A job that sucks the soul right out of you, she says.) Her relief is community service and writing spur-of-the-moment short stories. Many stories have been shared with family and friends who suggested she write a book. But that just sounds like another job to Darlene!