Remembering a cat named Midnight

Midnight frequented a dumpster behind a fast-food joint. The fine establishment specialized in fish sandwiches. One night, in the midst of a Halibut, he was “rescued” by a well-meaning employee. But, as she discovered, alley cats are neither grateful, nor inclined to domestication.

The woman, at length, despairing of attempts to make Midnight a “good kitty cat,” took out an ad in the newspaper, imploring someone to take him. We went to her house to check him out. The woman said he was in another room.

I wondered at the time why she had the door padlocked, and carried a whip. We heard a lot of hissing, screeching, and growling.

Finally, the woman emerged in the wake of a disagreement. Her hair was a mess; she had scratches on her arms.

Midnight curled up in JL’s lap. They were kindred spirits. Our son’s full name is James Lee, but condensed for obvious reasons. The police, teachers and old ladies, hated him. He was the scourge of the neighborhood.

He and Midnight were kindred spirit – both stubborn, defiant, and determined to do things their own way. When JL was a couple of years old, on one occasion, my daughter demanded I spank him. The, reason escapes me, but yielding to her wishes, I spanked him gently, on his bottom.

JL jumped up and down, yelling, “Hit me again! Hit me again!” Michelle shouted, “Don’t you spank him!” It taught me one thing, corporal punishment would not work; I never did it again.

He turned out fine, after fulfilling his pledge to graduate from high school with the lowest grade point average possible. During his tenure, he spent a great deal of time in the principal’s office.

But, he blew through the university’s admission’s test, which he could have avoided had he scanned his textbooks.

JL received degrees in microbiology and organic chemistry. The entire police force; all of his teachers; prison wardens; and a legion of old ladies were stunned. Sometimes, defiance and stubbornness need to be counted as virtues.

What age Midnight was, no one was sure. He had suffered an injury to his left leg, and exhibited scars, the result of many fights. He turned out to be a good cat, despite his independence.

Every morning, he would tear through the house, skidding on the hardwood floors, and leaping furniture.

The curtains closed with a jump into the bathroom tub. One morning he exited soaked and spitting mad.

Midnight would smack JL’s puppy on the snoot with his claws; not realizing, that Tofu would grow up to be a big dog, and return the favor. His myriad of transgression was profound.

Midnight met his demise on a local street. JL retrieved him. He shed a torrent of tears before wrapping him in a blanket. As he was full-blast mourning his precious feline, something rubbed his leg.

He planted the not-Midnight cat in the back alley. The following day, the utility company came around and fixed the cable.

Harry Reynolds can be reached at

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