The tiny town I lived near for many years was inhabited by a lot of unique characters. A few still live there, but the town has lost a lot of its character with the loss of those characters.
Some of them were old farts. My father included. But here’s a story about Old Fart #1.
He lived in an alley, in a small house with a large quantity of cats. There were assorted outbuildings also full of cats. Many were feral but those allowed in the kitchen were favorites.
He had a lot of favorites.
A local woman had taken on the job of helping Old Fart #1 get his house clean and to help him get health care. Both were in bad shape and she was (and is) a brave, compassionate, and caring woman.
The first time I met O. F. #1 was the morning after a night I’d spent hunting for a woman screaming. He told me it was a cougar. He was right. Then there was the time he was sitting on the bench outside the general store when my future husband and I walked by. At that time we were fellow firefighters going to the store for drinks, with no romance on the horizon. O.F. #1 said, loudly, ‘Looks like you roped yourself a fine heifer there!’.
This was back in the days when I was still cutting people’s hair. The compassionate woman asked me if I could cut O.F. #1’s for him. I agreed.
The kitchen was a smelly disaster. Dirty dishes, food debris, stinky cans of half empty cat food stacked everywhere. The distinct smell of cat pee and over-used cat litter. As I pulled out my scissors, he pointed out a dainty little gray and white female cat just out of kitten stage. She was lying on the floor and in obvious distress. The conversation went somewhat like this. Somewhat because I remember my exact words but not his. Horror does that to memory.
“See that cat? I stepped on her. Broke her back leg.”
“Are you going to take her to the vet?”
“No, vets don’t know anything. I want you to fix it.”
“Just take your little scissors there and cut her leg off.”
“WHAT? I’m not cutting her leg off!!!”
“It’s easy. Right there above the joint.”
“I’m not cutting a cat’s back leg off!!!”
At that point I didn’t even want to cut his hair off.
If I remember correctly, the compassionate woman I mentioned got the cat to the vet. And got the kitchen clean.
Eventually O.F. #1 got his hair cut. The cat survived. So did the old fart, who upheld his status in town for a few more years.
I feed feral cats in his memory.