The Drowning Gull 1 - Page 47

Illegal

by Jenny McBride

Hannah had a brother she never saw even though he lived only 20 miles away. Actually, she had two brothers she never saw, but one of them was dead. When he yet lived they had been friends, but this other brother, Dirk, acted like he had no sisters. Hannah's late grandmother had blamed Dirk's wife, Cara, for his estranging behavior. Hannah agreed that Cara was likely part of the reason, but she couldn't overlook Dirk's apparent acceptance of the implications.

Every five years or so their paths crossed, usually when an older relative died. They Tthey'd maintain contact long enough for one of Dirk's kids to graduate from some level of school and have a party Hannah would be invited to. For a brief afternoon or evening everything was friendly, as if nothing had ever been amiss, but thereafter Dirk and Cara would close the door again. Several years would pass while Hannah wondered what the problem was.

The day after drinking tea with her mother and glimpsing Silver Kitty hunting on the garden ice, Hannah was happily perplexed by an envelope bearing her brother's return address. What could it be? It had been less than a year since the last graduation. The card inside was something Hannah had never seen before, a “save the date” announcement in advance of a wedding invitation. Dirk's oldest daughter, Nicole, would marry at 25. The groom's name was Javier Luis Gutierrez. Hannah was besieged by a cavalcade of emotions, the first of which was delight that she was being included in the family event, the next was pride in Nicole's willingness to consider possibilities beyond the narrow suburban culture that would love to confine her, and finally Hannah felt the discomfort of wondering how Dirk and Cara felt about all this, from future son-in-law Javier to Hannah making the guest list .

“I hope he's not just marrying her as a way to get his citizenship,” Hannah's mom commented. Hannah was taken aback by this bizarre manifestation of paranoid xenophobia. Her mother, who attended the local Ppeace through Jjustice meetings with her! Hannah tried to sort her admonishments into a practical order, but soon traded them all for a sigh. Her mother was 80.

“I don't care if he's legal or illegal,” Hannah said frankly. “I'm really happy for Nicole.”

“I just hope he's not taking advantage of her, like Arla's neighbor. I told you about that , didn't I? And now the guy's not working, not even looking for a job.”

“And how do you know he married just to get citizenship?”

“Well, he's not suing for divorce.”

“Which means? So he wants to be married. You don't lose your citizenship when you get divorced. Should've known, another one of Arla's stories, Christianity without a soul.” Hannah paused to slip the announcement back into the envelope, turning it at a right angle to she could see the date and mark it on her calendar. “You know, I saw a great sign from an immigrants' rights protest. Said, 'First you take our land then you call us illegals.' ”

"Yes, California and Texas..."

"Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado..."

"Colorado too? And I suppose Nevada."

"Does Las Vegas sound Spanish to you? Anyway, on a completely different note, I called the West Avenue vet today and made an appointment to take Silver Kitty in. They participate in the TNR program for ferals, which means they'll fix it for a reduced price, but then you put it back where you found it. They check it to make sure it's disease- free first. And they cut off the tip of one ear to mark it as having been fixed. But I have to trap it. They rent live traps at the garden store, so my plan is to get there sometime this weekend and hopefully catch the cat Tuesday morning."

Laura had been looking on and slowly nodding her head to all of this information.

"So you can get a trap from Karger's. And how much does the vet charge?" she inquired thoughtfully.

"I think it's forty dollars."

"How nice of them to do that."

"I think they realize some people don't want to catch the cats to have them euthanized, so this at least keeps them from breeding."

"Yal. "

Hannah was having a little trouble with the whole deal herself. A conservationist and noter of all things native disappearing, she'd never been one to tolerate outdoor cats. It would not go away if they ignored it; rather, it would multiply. With a little help from strangers via the internet, Hannah was trying to prepare for action. Although she recognized her chosen course as the best available, she still stumbled over its lack of a happy ending. At best, the silver kitty would continue to live under the porch, frightened and uncomfortable, spooking the wildlife that visited Laura's bird feeders. The cat was so wild it could barely stand to be seen. Even if the animal shelters weren't already filled to bursting with pets surrendered under the economic collapse, this kitty would never have a home.

In the back of her mind while she was bicycling to and from work, while she cranked the computer and returned phone calls, Hannah was troubled by an overweight bride- to- be who now had her name and e-mail address, sometimes seeming an opportunist just like the silver kitty, a being geared for survival in a life cycle that no longer made sense.

Cat by Kate E Lore

Issue #1

46