My friend Rich and I went for another ride this morning, up to the top of Stuckagain Heights. As you might know, it's a steep ride up the Hillside. As we rode up towards the mansions in the sky, there was one house that stood out in its magnificence. It had a commanding view of the city, Mt. Susitna and Cook Inlet. When we reached the top, we were standing on the road next to the house and we turned to look back down on the city, just the way the owner of the house normally would look down on us.
As we stood there breathless, Rich noticed a cat writhing in their yard. At first we weren't sure if the cat was just rolling on its back, or maybe playing with a bird that it had caught, but Rich was concerned that the cat was staying in one place like it was caught on, or by, something. Then the cat started to shriek. Rich walked across the grass, and said the cat was dead. I said it couldn't be dead because it was still breathing but Rich said that from the way its eyes were bulging, it would be dead soon, and that it looked like it had been hit by a car because its back leg was twisted unnaturally. I was reluctant to ring the doorbell, knowing that there was bound to be a large, vicious dog inside just to keep riff-raff like us off the porch. And there was, but the owner of the house restrained the dog and stepped outside when I told him that there was a cat dying in his yard. "He's not dying," he said contemptuously. "And he's not a cat."
I thought his calm, condescending manner would be shattered when he saw his cat dead in the yard. Which is exactly why, I suppose, he was condescending in the first place. It was his dog, and it had caught its rear claw in a clump of matted fur by its ear. The man loosened the claw, the dog stood up shook itself and walked off, and the man went back in his house. That just left the ride back down the hill, pretty much a reprise of last year's; "I was a little girl squeezing the brakes and whimpering, 'Slow down. Slow down.' "