Monday, September 29, 2008

Amazing Grace

Bizarro was made possible today by Cats, Firemen, Birds, Ink, Computers, and Language.

Most of my cartoons just come from some intangible place in my head, a black box in the rafters of my mind's garage, a vault buried deep beneath my soul's grain silo. But this cartoon is one of those rare ones that is entirely autobiographical.

When I was a child, I had a black and white cat that was accidentally blinded in a lab accident. I had a chemistry set I enjoyed playing with and although I had been warned of mixing chemicals haphazardly, I was an intrepid child and frequently pushed the limits of the physical world. One day, I poured a bottle marked, "Do Not Mix This With Acid" into a bottle marked, "Acid." I knew as soon as I rotated my wrist that I'd made a terrible mistake.

Before I could even shield my face, the newly mixed fluids exploded like bitter enemies. But just as the searing fluid would have hit me in the face, my cat leapt in front of me and took the scalding blow himself. He lived, but lost both of his eyes.

For years he lived with me, completely blind, and would feel his way around the house and the surrounding yards. Just as sighted cats will often do, he would occasionally climb to the top of a tree and have trouble coming down. I routinely would climb up to rescue him, it seemed the least I could do for a friend who had sacrificed his own eyesight for mine.

One day, when I was around 12, he was trapped at the top of the enormous pecan tree in our front yard as black storm clouds and flashes of lightening tumbled toward us. I just barely heard his plaintiff cries over the growing wind and prepared to climb the tree to save him. As I stepped gingerly from one branch to another, I soothed him with my voice. "I'm coming, Steve. Hang on. It's okay."

I was only ten-or-so feet off the ground when my foot became wedged in the crotch of a huge tree branch. Though I struggled with the fury of a Norse god, I could not pull it free. The storm approached, the wind got louder, the lightening closer. I glanced up at my terrified, blind cat, perhaps 65 feet in the air, clinging desperately to a branch as the wispy fingers of the tree swayed violently to and fro. "Hang on, Steve!" I shouted over the now gale-force winds. "Don't let go!"

I turned my attention once again to my shoe, pinned in the fork of the branch like a debutante against the back seat of a car, when out of the corner of my eye I saw something unbelievable. It was Steve, of course, being lowered gently by a squadron of birds. The look on his face was one of relief, gratitude, and astonishment.

I, too, was relieved and astonished to see him safe on the ground and heading for the house, so much so that I had forgotten that a huge storm was bearing down on me while I was still trapped ten feet off the ground.

Just then, as though the day had not already been amazing enough, along came a millionaire CEO of a crooked financial firm with a saw and a ladder. He immediately began sawing the branch away near my foot, until I was free, then helped me down the ladder. Before I could even thank him, he returned from whence he came without asking for any compensation whatsoever.

In a single day, I saw birds rescue a cat from a tree and a ruthless multi-millionaire perform an altruistic act. I have never seen either since, but having witnessed it once restored my faith in the goodness of this world in a way that lasted well over a week.

15 comments:

Mike Duffau said...

great story about the cat rescue...its like your worse enemy saving your life. good one, champ!

Johnny said...

The only time I had to help my cat was when his foot got stuck in the window cord as he fell behind the couch. I pulled the couch away and reached down to free him from the cord, which had wrapped around his hind foot. As I reached down, he looked up and saw my hand coming towards him, in a state of panic, he open his mouth and took hold of my hand and sank his teeth in. At first he hit bone, so he loosened his bite and sank his teeth in again, this time almost all the way through. I have never felt a greater pain than that since.

At this time his foot had come untangled from the cord and he let go of my hand. He walked away like nothing had happened. I still have two scars on my hand from the bite.

I don't help cats anymore. Its not worth the trouble. The dog, on the other hand, I would help.

SAYOTTE316 said...

Well there's Duffau but where's Jeremy? I heard University of Oregeon mediacal center after the fight .

Penny said...

We have two & a half blind cats in this house. No fooling.

isee3dtoo said...

This blog reminded me about the kid who was born with no eye-lids.

They immediately covered his eye with wet towels and saline solution. Then five days later they circumcised him and through a miracle surgery they made new eyelids out of the excess foreskin.

It turned out everything was okay with the kid after the surgery and he lived a normal life.

However, every time he looked at you, he looked a little cock-eyed.

Jezzka said...

ugh, foreskin eyelids? i am almost too grossed out to laugh...i said almost...

shipping troll said...

I grew up in farm country,(and still live in farm country) and there were always plenty of stray critters around, and there was one particular cat that stands out in my memory. We called him "Halfdeck" because he always walked kind of sideways, and with his head tilted to the side. He was a friendly, little guy, but a lousy hunter and I found out that he was a regular at the dairy farm across the field from us. I asked the farmer one day if he knew why the cat walked that way and he told me that when he was new to the farm he was playing snag-it with a cow's tail and the cow didn't take kindly to it. Eventually the cow connected a hoof to the cats head with a blow solid enough to cause the cat's inner ear to rupture. From that day forward the cat stayed away from the cows and never walked right again.

Tracy H. said...

Was any of that story true?

Superhero Spouse said...

"Plaintiff" cries?!

That little cat bastard sued you after you tried to save him?

cabeza said...

I give the cartoon a solid 8...maybe an 8.5 but I give the story a 10! The surprise ending is what got me.

munchy365 said...

Bush shall never commit an altruistic act. Ever.

Robert Finis said...

I like to imagine that the bit about the blinded cat is somewhat true, because it gives me the image of little Dan Piraro being forever indebted to the animal kingdom, leading him one day to fight for animal rights!

marin_explorer said...

I suspended my disbelief until I read "a millionaire CEO of a crooked financial firm".

Course, your cat must been rescued by African swallows because the European variety can't possibly lift a full-grown cat..."It's a simple question of weight ratios" ;-)

Shortcake said...

i'm just glad you didn't attribute it to the majesty of the invisible sky god.

Mary A. Shafer said...

Love stories about blind cats, even if they are a bit hard to believe. Guess that's because I'm in love with one. Read about it at http://almostperfectbook.com/