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Stigmata Lashes Out

March 14th, 1997

Dear Editor:

The morning was depressingly bright and sunny, but I had to check my mailbox. The container was overflowing with a mass of damp letters and junk mail. I was saddened to find no letters from the editors. As I was returning to my room to stamp 'DECEASED' on the correspondence, I noticed my cat, Stigmata, running towards me. She bolted past, as if she didn't see me, diving under the front porch. She disappeared beneath a pile of old lumber.

"Jesus Christ -- you gotta help me, please!" I heard her plead. "I'll do anything -- just don't rat me out...!"

Then the mob came. They were storming in my direction, following the path by which my cat had come. Some were carrying clubs and pitchforks, as if they were extras from a Hammer Frankenstein movie. A greasy pot-bellied man spotted me. He called out...

"Did you see a gray and white cat?"

"Why?" I asked. He related the following:

He was filling a plastic wading pool in his backyard (for the neighborhood kids), while his youngest daughter played with their new kitten. As if from nowhere, "this cat" entered the property. As soon as the child saw the strange feline, she placed her kitten in a low branch of a Japanese maple. She reached down to pet the visiting animal -- this was a mistake. With one slash, the animal opened a deep gash down the girl's arm. Piercing screams filled the air. A fan of blood shot from the wound. Next the cat caught sight of the kitten; it leapt into the tree, grabbing the kitten by the neck. It carried the panic stricken animal high into the crimson branches. The child's plaintive cries summoned her father, as well as several neighbors. Soon the tree was surrounded. Suddenly the kitten came sailing down, landing at the feet of the shocked onlookers. It was more a mix of blood-matted fur and convulsions than a kitten. This provided enough distraction for the "demon cat". It leapt from the tree, making a good escape.

Since the kitten's back was broken, continued the oily man, it had to be euthanized. His child was now in the Emergency Room, being comforted by a social worker.

"I have seen no cat!" was my curt response. The mob continued down the road on their idiotic hunt.

Stiggy scooted through my legs the moment I opened the door to the hallway. She raced up the stairs to my apartment. It was good to be home, safe from the squint and squalor of suburbia. I rewarded my pet with a can of dolphin-safe tuna.

I trust the above occurrence will brighten the day of your readers.

Best wishes,

Gene Santagada

c 1997 g.santagada

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