SOLOMON QUICK by Solomon Quick written by Charlie Fox Chapter Four


Don’t ever let your kids name your pets.

Kenny is the biggest cat ever created. He never used to be that way and no one really knows how it happened. It seemed like it was an Overnight Sensation.  One day he was Normal, then suddenly he was….well….not.

Arnold was apathetic about it, Marion concerned, and Gamma thought it was a Miracle.

He looks like a hairy bowling ball.  If Gamma described Marion’s hair as “dishwater blonde” then she’d have to say Kenny’s hair is “toilet water brown.”

Most days, Kenny just rolls around the house, not moving very fast at all.  He’ll come to you when you call, but you have to start beckoning him at least an hour before you actually want him to arrive at your location.  But he can really move if he wants.  If you drop a toothbrush, pen or even money on the floor you won’t see him.  But drop a piece of salami or bologna and he’s all over that like a Pit Bull on a bloody Chihuahua.

Twice a year Marion gives Kenny a flea bath.  It’s an event that no one looks forward to, especially Kenny.  He always seems to know when it’s going to happen.  When he gets excited or scared he’ll let out a scream like he’s just seen a mouse.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Kenny screams when he sees a mouse.  He won’t stop screaming until one of us finds and disposes of the rodent.

It’s normally not too difficult to find Kenny.  It’s like not being able to find our refrigerator.  But when Flea Bath Day arrives Kenny seems to blend into the surroundings like a Kitty Chameleon.  Marion used to mark it on the calendar and then she got this creepy idea that Kenny could actually read the calendar and know when to hide.  So she stopped doing that.  But the dimwit always hides in the same place, behind the sofa.  How he gets back there is a mystery.  Gamma calls it a Miracle.  There’s a lot of Miracles in her life.

It takes the entire family to get Kenny out from behind the sofa.  One person pulls the sofa away from the wall and one person stands at each end and Kenny tries to run out but ends up running into one of us.

Marion had a brainiac idea one time. She saw on television that they cover a horse’s eyes when a stable is on fire to lead the horses away from the flames.  So she thought we could cover Kenny’s eyes and lead him into the bath tub.  Yeah, that was a brilliant scheme.  After all, most cats just stand there, waiting for someone to cover their eyes. Of course, Arnold was in charge of holding Kenny while Marion tried to wrap a sock around Kenny’s eyes.  By the time the bloodbath ended, Arnold looked like Jack the Ripper had played Tic-Tac-Toe on his arms.

We all have to lift Kenny up and carry him into the bath tub.  People with normal cats can give them baths in a sink but we need the tub.  Now Arnold wears these big leather gloves like he’s waiting for a falcon to land on his arm.  Kenny puts up a fight for a while, then realizes the inevitable and lets out a big sigh.  By that time Marion has soaped up his face and a huge bubble appears over his mouth.  Good thing Gamma isn’t around for that.  She’d probably see The Virgin Mary in the bubble and have another Miracle on her hands.

Every Halloween we set Kenny out on the front porch and folks think he’s our Jack-O-Lantern.  That was my idea.  When the little kids come up to the door, Kenny will let out one of his screams and the little beggars run away crying.  It’s pretty funny. I think so, anyway.

About two months ago we took Kenny to a vet in Stevens Point.  We used to take him to the vet here in Moon Lake but they banned us.  Well, not us, just Kenny.  Since there’s no reason to go there without Kenny, we switched vets.  So we drove the twelve miles to Doctor Carson’s office.  Normal cat carriers are too small so Marion found an old orange crate and we crammed Kenny into that.  He pushed his face against the side and started to scream.  I was not happy being the one to ride in the back seat with the crated Kenny.

By the time we got to the vet’s he’d settled down a little bit.  Arnold and I carried the crate in and sat down.  Soon a woman with a Yellow Labrador came and sat next to us.  She kept staring and finally asked, “What kind of animal is that?”  She said “animal” like she was disgusted.  So I said, “It used to be a Yellow Labrador, but we had him here last week and Doctor Carson gave him some shots and look what happened.”

Her eyes got big and she inhaled sharply.

Arnold:  “Don’t be a smart-ass, Solomon.”

Soon we were called and Arnold and I lugged Kenny and the crate back to the exam room.  Doctor Carson was a pudgy, red-faced little man.  I noticed six framed diplomas on the wall.  We extricated Kenny from the crate and Carson began his exam.  After a few minutes he was able to locate Kenny’s backside and he rammed a thermometer in Kenny’s butt.  It even made me squirm a little bit.

After listening to Kenny with a stethoscope and finally removing the thermometer from its unwanted location, Doctor Carson came to fantastic conclusion:  “Kenny is grossly overweight.”

Arnold, Marion and I just looked at each other.  After a silence that was not at all uncomfortable I said, “So you had to go to six different colleges before you finally figured out how to be a vet?  Because we never would have guessed Kenny was grossly overweight.  We just thought every other cat in the universe was grossly underweight.  Thanks for the brilliant diagnosis, Doctor.”

Arnold:  “Don’t be a smart-ass, Solomon.”

Doctor Carson:  “What are you feeding Kenny?”

Marion:  “Just cat food, and not that much.”

Doctor Carson:  “Are you giving him table scraps?”

Marion:  “No.”

Arnold:  “No.”

Then they looked at me.

Me:  “So Doc, anything else wrong with Kenny besides being a little overweight?”  I learned early on that changing the subject would get me out of a lot of things. Not everything, but a lot of things.

Doctor Carson:  “I think being him overweight is enough, Young Man.”

God, I hate the “Young Man” thing.

“If this continues, your cat will die at a very young age,” the Six-Diploma-Vet said.

Marion:  “He’s sixteen.”

Doctor Carson: “Oh.”

We left without Doctor Carson coming up with any more spectacular conclusions about Kenny’s health, or lack of it.

On the way home Marion said to Arnold, “Oh, we need to stop at the butcher’s and get some pig’s feet for dinner tonight.”

I can’t be sure, but I think Kenny plastered his face up against the crate and gave me a wink.

I was two years old when Arnold and Marion shoved this little ball of fur in my face.  “Look, Solomon.  Look what we got you!”

They were excited as Hell for some idiotic reason.  I guess I was supposed to giggle and smile and wet my pants because they got a kitten for me to play with.  I didn’t recall expressing any interest at all in spending my free time with a goofy kitten.  “We got you a kitten!”  Great.

Then the morons wanted me to name it.  Did they even realize that I was only two?  I mean, I’m sure I exhibited signs indicating I was on my way to becoming a Child Protegé and breaking the record for the highest IQ of any two-year-old in history.  But really.

Arnold:  “Look, he’s trying to pet it!”

No, Arnold, I was trying to squeeze its little head. I was only two!

Marion:  “Go ahead, Solomon, name him.  Give him a name.”

The only names I knew at that time were Arnold, Marion, Gamma and Kitten.

I was trying to tell them I didn’t want to name the thing but all that came out was “kitten, kitten,  kitten”

Arnold:  “What did he say?”

Marion:  “I think he said Kenny.”  He wants to name him Kenny.”

Me:  “Oh for the Love of God, no.”

Arnold:  “Okay, that’s it then.  His name is Kenny.”

Don’t ever let your kids name your pets.



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