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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 34 page 16


three cats check out the commotion

High Strung like a Siamese

by Shauna Checkley

We were sitting on Beth’s front step sipping white wine. We had just come from a mutual friend’s funeral, but it wasn’t a somber time. Rather, we adopted the modern, celebratory feel for the occasion, we drank, laughed, and talked. Still, it had shocked me, the fragility of life and death.

Beth and I had been close for years, since high school when I stood up for her as she was encircled and being told off by a large group in the girls’ washroom. It was a dispute over a boy. And when our eyes met and her eyes, wide with fear and outrage, saw that I was ready to come to blows for her, we instantly bonded. And we never looked back. We began to hang out together, to giggle and gossip endlessly.

So there we were, two aging first-wave punks. The thing was, there was no trace of our era on us. Perhaps the ripped jeans that Beth had changed into after the funeral, but that was it. We looked like any other fifty-something women.

Beth reached over and refilled my wine glass. Feeling a slight kink in my left leg, I stretched it out carefully, over and again. It was a late spring afternoon, a Friday to be exact. I stared into the pools of run-off in the near distance. The overhead sun glinted on them. It was a pensive moment.

Then the call came.

It was my mother’s neighbor, Glynnis Archer, the proverbial nice lady next door that I had asked to keep an eye on my beleaguered mom.

“Cherie, I don’t like being the one to tell you, but there’s big trouble at your mom’s right now,” Glynnis said.

“Why, what’s going on?” I asked, frantic.

“Animal control is there. Your mom is arguing with them. They said they’re going to call the police if she doesn’t cooperate. I thought I better call you right away.”

“Good Grief!” I cried.

I had always dreaded this moment, feared this moment, recoiled from it when the thought came to me in the darkest of night, when sleep eluded me and I was alone with only my anxiety, that heavy, unwanted bedfellow.

“I’ll be right there Glynnis! Thank you so much for calling. Don’t let them take her or anything until I get there, okay?”

“I’ll do my best,” Glynnis assured.

Beth was already standing by the time I dropped my phone back into my purse. “What’s going on?” she kindly probed.

“Mom’s been raided,” I said. Shaken, I could feel the blood drain from my face. I stood, ashen, afraid.

Beth grew concerned. “Need a ride? I can take you there.”

Weaving through traffic that was strangely thick at this hour of the day, we arrived at my mom’s little wartime house in five minutes. A super-sized white van that said City of Regina Animal Control on the side was parked in front. Mom was on her front porch, defiant, arms akimbo, standing firm.

Spilling out of Beth’s yellow Mazda, we hopped over mud puddles as careful as if we were passing through a minefield. It had been a late thaw this year, so the streets were mucky, flooded. Some sections of the street were submerged under water several inches.

I studied the tense group gathered on Mom’s front steps. Glynnis waved to me from next door.

“Leave me be! Leave us be! We’re not bothering anyone,” Mom shrieked at the two animal control officers. One was a short, dumpy, middle-aged guy with balding, black hair. His nametag said Hugh somebody. The other one was young and tall and silent. He was like a winter sapling with long, skinny sticks for legs, with big black boots. They both wore the light gray animal control officer uniforms, complete with badges.