So many drugs there: rotund red sixty milligram oxys, pure white diamond-shaped Dilaudid, and Xanax for kicking. The kitten was kicked often too. Owned by a junky dick named Jimmy O, Sarafina was innocent and beautiful, and she carried the burden of Jimmy’s shortcomings. Tortured, starved, ridiculed.

“Get off the fucking counter, you stupid fucking cat!” Jimmy threw a syringe like a dart at Sarafina. She ran in place, unable to gain traction, and the needle stuck in her side.

Pete and I watched, loathing Jimmy. Sitting in his destitute recliner, I wondered, Would we become this vile? Is it possible? I never thought I’d willingly desire to be in a place like this, yet here I was. Then I looked down into the pill bottle on the table and thought, I’m not leaving until those drugs are in me. I could see Pete was conflicted as well. He stared down into the same bottle, afraid to look up and see Sarafina.

Pete and I got high and left Jimmy’s place feeling hollow. We ignored the kitten’s howling pleas that day and came up with a plan for future redemption.

 

Pete and I spray paint black the orange tips of our BB handguns. No real guns, or thoughts, or emotion—except toward the innocent cat. We are junkies after all, and junkies only echo real life. We live in the suburb of limbo. Life, drugs, death: a blood river of dope carries mind and body and soul across the river Styx.

Our fake guns altered, we set the syringes to our veins. Detached now, we gather ourselves to take off in Pete’s yellow ride. We park a few blocks from Jimmy’s, exit the car, and place black motorcycle helmets on with leather-bound hands.

Pete turns to me. “Our first cat burglary.”

As I laugh, the helmet pulls my head back. The stars above the dark street are vivid tonight; they shine with bright intensity and reflect like nerve endings against my shadowy visor. My hands sweat under the leather as I adjust the helmet.

We compose our breathing behind the familiar bushes next to Jimmy’s front door. Slow and heavy breaths weighted by primal fight or flight instinct. Then comes the adrenaline. Weightless, we concentrate on the last breath before the loud violence begins and together we kick the door in.

Sarafina sits high up on her bookshelf perch. She appears calm as the door swing-slams against the wall. Jimmy is not calm. He staggers up from his recliner, blood drips down his arm to the syringe in his hand. I’m happy to interrupt the ritual. To replace his need with a penetrating anxiety.

“St..sta…stay back! I’ll give you AIDS!” Jimmy stammers. He holds the syringe like a knife.

Pete is fearless as he slide-steps toward Jimmy and brains him with the butt of the gun. Jimmy’s eyes go wonky; he bleeds from two wounds, blood from his head fucks with his vision and blood from his arm fucks with his grip. He drops the syringe and slumps to the floor. He sits wobbly with his legs straight out like a dazed child, a pool of piss puddles around him. Sarafina jumps down and examines her owner’s condition. She stands shy of the urine, looking down at her reflection, then up at Jimmy.

“Take the drugs! They’re in the bag…under the chair,” Jimmy pleads, holding a hand to his bloody head.

Pete grabs the pill bottles and empties them into Jimmy’s piss. My eyes flit over the pile of oxys, but he picks up Sarafina and we walk out the door, leaving behind a very confused Jimmy. Two helmeted strangers break in, smash his face, soak his drugs in piss, and take his cat. To this day he must be baffled about what happened. In truth, it confuses me still.

Pete and Sarafina were inseparable for the three months before she was diagnosed with feline leukemia. She was closer to death than life when we took her to the woods, dug a tiny grave, and shot her. We shot up to the point of sickness, and buried Sarafina.