Bright Lights Big City

“Out there, beware, lost souls everywhere,
misery, poverty, murder, robbery.”
The Fat Cat said to Stray who happened
to pass his way. “In here, good cheer,” he
gestured toward the high, arched door he was
about to enter, “nothing to fear, nothing to
long for, comfort, camaraderie, peace and
prosperity. The way life should be.”
He tipped his top hat and wished Stray a good
day, not without irony. A door man bowed
to Fat Cat, ushered him inside, and went back
to guarding the entrance again.
Gender? No. Race? No. Nationality? No.
Country? No. Neighborhood? Social status?
No. Heritage, family tree, parents, siblings,
anybody good for anything?
“Curiosity killed the cat. So what!” Stray
thought. He was half-dead anyway.
He sat “out there” in a seedy bar and made
a list of what he was responsible for in his
life and what he missed when things were
handed out by God or Fate or the Force.
Whomever dealt the cards and got him
into his mess. “Looks? No. IQ? No.
Talents? Math, science, art, music,
athletics, no – like everything else
worth having, money and influence especially,
talent had to be inherited, a gift from lucky
gene combinations Education? Sure,
Harvard or Yale. Ha! Lucky he didn’t end
up in reform school. Not much came with
that birth certificate. Stray brooded. And
then you died at the end of it! Stray felt
gypped, cheated. He was a patsy. Why was
he handed the short end of the stick in
everything? Why was he just another mangy
alley cat, and an unlucky black one at
that yowling in the darkness? It wasn’t fair.
He was just a workus. When he could find work.
While these whosits were blessed!
“The fat cats feed off the nation”
Stray scribbled on his bar napkin.
“The strays their hope for salvation.
The hip on jubilation.” He continued.
“The cool on calculation.
It’s a dog’s life.”
He finished.
Hey! He did have some talent! Stray reread
the poem he had just written. Not bad. He
was a poet and didn’t know it. A lot
of good that would do him. Just another
useless occupation. Thank you Lord, Stray
sighed, once again for nothing!

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