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by Lucille Joyner

Lucille Joyner
 pursued a jazz career in New York City until she married and started a family. Her writing was launched when a mayor asked her to ghostwrite and the local editor offered a column. Her stories are published in the Piano Technicians Guild Journal, a Volvo dealer’s newsletter, and at special times in the local newspaper. She is currently working on several books.  While she began as a Musician who enjoyed writing, she is now a Writer who enjoys music.

            Household pets are acquired in a standard way. Wide-eyed children bring them home, or beg the parents for them and promise to take care of them. The parents relent, allow the beast in the door, and guess who ends up taking care of them? The mother. That’s how I got stuck with Jakey, the cat from hell.

           Jakey was a nervous, nasty, complaining and demanding cat. He ate like there was a famine in the land, so fast that he’d throw up and then come back for more food. He managed to throw up on just about everything I treasured, including my piano. It wouldn’t be so bad if he threw up on the top or on the fall board, but he threw up on the keys. That involved taking the piano apart and removing the keys to clean under them. He even threw up on my plants, plants that subsequently died. Walking barefooted in my household was out of the question. The vet said that he was perfectly normal, that some animals do throw a lot because they are hyper. Hyper? One unexpected squeak and Jakey ended up on the chandelier.

Worst of all—to me, a musician—was his voice; a long, shrill, nerve-shattering trumpet blast that traveled around corners and tapped you on the shoulder. And he controlled me with that terrible sound because he caught on that I’d do anything and give him anything to shut him up.

            Mornings were unbearable. He’d crawl along the bed right up to my sleeping form and shriek as loud as he could in my ear, then run like a prankster who rings your doorbell and runs away. I’d sit up in shock, and there would be no one there. Jakey was my worst enemy in life. He was definitely out to ‘get’ me.

            After four cat-ostrophic years, the unexpected happened. Jakey died. I was not happy that Jakey died, but I have to be honest with you. When the doctor called and said, solemnly, “We lost Jakey last night,” my sense of sadness was soon replaced by the thought of a normal Jakey-free life.

            I went by the animal hospital to pay their exorbitant fee for two days of oxygen and aspirin, fully expecting that they would take care of the corpse, but they didn’t. They handed me a receipt stamped ‘paid in full’ and an occupied body bag. Trouble is, it was August and about 95 degrees out and I was on my way to tune a piano. I could not leave a dead cat in my car for several hours in such heat, so I was forced to rush home. I left Jakey with my son to put aside till the whole family could get together for a funeral service.

            When I got home, the house was empty and I couldn’t find Jakey anywhere. When my children came home for dinner, I asked my son, “What did you do with Jakey?” He answered in such a sweet, innocent way, as children do when they have done something they don’t realize is horrific, “It was so hot, Mom, that I put him in the freezer.”

I almost fainted. The thought of a dead cat in my freezer up against all the good food in there made my head spin. I was too tired to handle the situation before I had a good night’s sleep.

          The next morning my son came to my bedside and said, “Mom, I know how much you loved Jakey . . .” where on earth did he get THAT idea? “. . . so I got up early and buried him right outside the kitchen window so he could be near you forever and you could see him every time you washed dishes.”

I jumped out of bed and rushed to the kitchen window and peered out onto a mammoth rock that said “JAKEY” in large white letters. My body went limp as I fell into an arm chair, and my son further consoled me with, “. . . and don’t worry, Mom, his name will never wash away. I wrote it in bathroom caulking.”

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