Monday, July 7, 2008

Part 4 of 6: An injured man in the midst of his children; Nabysko's allergic boyfriend snuggles cat: big mistake!

On the morning of June 17, my second day home from the hospital, feeling bleary, puzzled and suffering physical pain, I step into the living room from the hallway to see that the front door is open just a crack. This dismays me. Suddenly, I see Jim dash to the door, push it open further, then dash onto the porch. 

Given such an opportunity, Jim will always take it, but he is a house cat and is never to go out unless supervised. He does not know how to live in the outdoors. I do not trust his navigational skills. I follow to find him socializing with Royce, who has been plying the outdoors for about 15 years now. Royce is very good about staying in the yard and is well-behaved out there. Should he get in a jam, both his survival and navigational skills are excellent.

Just beyond, I see Prickly Pear Blossom carrying little baby Wry Kracker as she speaks into her cell phone. "It's Mom," she tells me. "Want to talk to her?" I nod. "Dad's here now," she speaks back into the phone. "I'll let you talk to him. Here he is."

I take the phone and usher Jimmy back inside. Then I hear Sunflower's voice. She speaks from the Sunrise Dance encampment just down the hill from Fort Apache - the real Fort Apache, not the bronx. "Hi, Kid," she says. In the background, I can hear the Apache drums, the Apache songs.

The official Sunrise Dance will not start until the morning of the 20th, but the pre-dance activities have long-since begun. There has been much cooking in the camps of the two families and now they have just fed each other. Sunflower enjoyed carrying the food to the other family, serving it to them and to the medicine man.

But it is hot and she does not like the heat. She is exhausted. She is worried about me. "Everyone here feels bad about what happened to you," she tells me. "They can't believe you are not going to be here. Janet said, 'can't he come, anyway?'"

But I can't.

Throughout the day there is much activity in the Kracker House as the kids get ready to leave for Arizona themselves, but I do not participate. Mostly, I lay on the bed, drifting in and out of sleep. Whenever food is fixed, I eat it. It seems odd to me, but neither the accident, the surgery nor the drugs has diminished my appetite.

At some point, Toast Ed takes me to the store where we buy over a week's worth of food for me to prepare for myself while I am home alone - most of it micro-wave ready. I also buy apples and bananas. I find a small watermelon that thumps real good. I buy that, too. 

In the evening, Nabysko and boyfriend Bryce show up. I am surprised to see him come right into the house, right into the midst of cats and dander. He never does this. He stays away from the house. If he does come here, he dashes in, then dashes right back out again.

Now Bryce sits down on the couch with Nabysko - the same couch where cats so often curl and sleep. Right now, there are cat hairs on that couch. Jim comes prancing by on the table, in pet mode. I see Bryce look at Jim, as if he wants to pet him.

"What will happen if you pet that cat?" I ask.

"I don't know," Bryce answers. "I think I will be all right. I'm all right, so far."

"If you swell up and explode, then we will know you really are allergic to cats," I note.

"I won't explode. I want to pet him."

"I don't know. You better not. You might die," I warn.

"But I love him. I want to pet him," Bryce says.

Then Bryce pets Jim. Jim then steps onto Bryce's lap. This is too much for Nabysko, who pulls Jim onto her own lap. Bryce keeps petting him, snuggling him. "I love Jim," he explains. "I just love him."

Jim moves on. A bit later, I see Bryce standing in the corner, by the table, rubbing his wrists together. "Do you itch?" I ask.

"A little," he answers. "I'll be all right."

Please take note that Bryce is wearing a Batman shirt.

Next I spot Bryce standing by the kitchen sink, running water over his hands and wrists.

Then Bryce rubs the water all over himself - and through his hair, too.

Bryce is suffering!

Bryce scratches here...

Bryce scratches there. He really is allergic to cats!

Unable to take anymore, Bryce flees to the open air outside. A transformation seems to be overtaking him. I worry that he might be going mad. If you click on this picture to blow it up, you will notice little Pistol-Yero in the corner of the front room window, as he observes the unfolding of one of the most unusual series of events any of us Krackers have ever beheld.

Then Bryce is suddenly high up a tree!!!

Bryce climbs that tree - as if he were a cat!!!

And little Pistol-Yero witnesses it all!

Later, after a degree of sanity seemed to return to him, Bryce descended to the ground.

"That was pretty amazing. Have you always been good at climbing trees?" I asked.

"No," Bryce answered. "I have never climbed a tree before me my life. When I was little, my friends used to tease me because I would not climb trees with them. I can't believe I just did that."

Bryce then looked up at the tree that he had just topped and purred with satisfaction.

Since that time, there have been numerous, unverified, rumors about a young man of Bryce's description, dashing in short bursts all about Anchorage, climbing trees, where he has performed many daring rescues. Afterwards, he has been observed to curl up and nap. His grooming habits are strange, they say, and an old lady swore she saw him cough up a hairball.

When Nabysko returned to Alaska from Arizona, she was very disturbed to find that Bryce had ripped the toilet out and had replaced it with a sandbox. She made him put the toilet back in.

I think I know what happened. Remember when Peter Parker got bit by the radio active spider and became Spiderman? I suspect that Bryce underwent a similar transformation after he exposed his allergies to the Kracker Cats.

As good super-heros always do, Bryce has invented a cover story. When people see him come down from a tree, he now tells them that he has always been a very good tree-climber; that as a little boy he could climb more trees faster and higher than could any other kid in the neighborhood; give him a belt, he says, and he could speed-shimmy up any tree just like that. This is something he has always done, no big deal. As to this stuff about purrs and the furball, nonsense... or so he says.

Not long after Bryce came down from the tree on the night of June 17th, my house was empty of all humans but me. The children who had shared the day and evening with me had all gone to catch various jets bound to Arizona so that they could join Sunflower and our extended family on the Apache side at the Sunrise Dance. I did not yet know that my surgery had fallen apart and that in less than three full days I would be back in the hospital, again under the surgeon's knife, to surrender real bone for plastic.

I would not learn this until the following morning. For now, I believed myself to be alone with just the cats and that we would be together - just the cats and broken me - for the next week to come.

I am a person who does good with solitude. Sometimes, when my career was at its best point, I would leave home in my little airplane, bound for someplace out in the hinterlands of Alaska, but before I could reach that place, I would land somewhere else; someplace lonely and wild and would there retreat for a day or two, to be alone, to visit no one, to walk and pee in the woods, to turn my camera away from the beauty before me, because I did not believe any photographer with any camera could do justice to that beauty.

I thrived in the lonesomeness of it all. In loneliness, I took solace.

But tonight, as I shut my bedroom door upon the cats who so wanted to come in and sleep with me, as I slowly and carefully eased myself down onto the mattress and onto the stacked pillows, seeking physical comfort that was not mine to have, seeking to escape pain that could not be escaped but only managed, I found no solace at all in the lonesomeness of it all.

The loneliness only felt...                      lonely.


Standtall said...

Poor Bryce. Loneliness can be tiresome. But you need not be bored. Think of things that csn make u occupy. Music? Chatting online etc

Charlie Earnshaw said...

Hey Bill, I know its now the early hours of your birthday I as I write this, but I would like to wish you well and of course a Happy Birthday to you. I would love to see a blog that you would have about some of the flying trips you have done that in one or more ways involved a cat met along the way. I am certain that it would be a fun story to read and see. It is your birthday, but here I am making the wishes. Well happy birthday anyhow!!!