Rory came into my life through the side door. He was part of a package deal when I met my wife, Deborah. At the time. I was living the free and easy life of a pet-less bachelor and cats weren't something I thought much about. It's not that I didn't like them — I'd had cats before — but, at that point in my life, l just couldn't be bothered.
"I hope the cats are okay," Deborah would worry whenever she spent the night at my apartment.
"Don't worry, they'll be fine. Come back over here . . ."
The cats were always fine, of course, though the same could not be said for Deborah's apartment. Rory (and Deborah's other cat, Miss Velvet) were so skilled at scratching, biting, and knocking things over that she'd often return to an apartment in shambles. I sometimes wondered why she put up with it.
Rory, in particular, was a little brat. Five years old when I met him he was in prime trouble-making form. Deborah even blamed him for the death of her previous cat, Mr. Hadji.
"Poor Hadj," Deborah would say, shaking her head at the vintage tobacco tin on her nightstand that held Mr. Hadji's ashes. "Rory terrorized him."
I had never liked orange cats. Not because of any negative experiences with one, in fact, other than to watch Morris be a little snoot in 9-Lives commercials, I never had any experience with one at all — I just wasn't attracted to them much.
But, as with any other racial prejudice, things changed once I opened up and gave Rory a chance. The little scamp was nothing if not charming.
"You're going to miss him when he's gone," my wife would say whenever she caught me carrying Rory on my shoulder, or saw us napping on the couch. Or, in later years, when we put him in a harness and took walks around the block.
"I know," I'd say.
I knew it was true., I just didn't realize how much.
Rest in peace little friend.