It’s 3 in the morning and he is outside, walking. The street lamps on the quiet street do nothing to illuminate the darkness engulfing his mind, his heart, his soul.
He is finally broken.
He wishes now that he was brave enough to end it somehow. Keep walking like Johnny Walker. Away. Another city? Another country? Perhaps hell? He remembers that wry joke: it’s going to be lit. All his flaws ring in his mind clear as a bell. All his blunders crystal clear to him. He carries his failures as calluses on his shoulders and hands and the weight has become like a buttress against the stingingly cold wind that threatens to freeze his inards.
He should have taken a jacket.
Now he is walking on the lit street alone, looking for gratitude. Just one thing about himself that he must be grateful for. Just one area of life that his fragile ego could grasp onto and hang all his confidence to enable him move forward another hour, another day.
He is alone and he feels it.
He is not allowed to feel this way, you see. The convention is that a man in his position must not be melancholic. He must be the paragon of stability and strength – so much depends on it. Duty, is what man is called to, isn’t it? Even when everyone is unhappy or disatisfied with his performance everywhere that he can think of. He must never show his vulnerability, they would not understand it. He is not allowed to falter.
So he is walking at 3am while the rest of the world sleeps so that the tears can flow freely from his bloodshot eyes and his shoulders can slump under the weights of his peculiar life.
What he wouldn’t do for a packet of Maryland cookies washed down with lukewarm creamy milk? Damn his diet. Damn his decision to change his eating habits and modify his lifestyle. No orange or mango could ever match the satisfying and comfort of chocolate. What a wonderful feeling it would be to sip a couple fingers (okay, a glass) of single malt whisky of an appropriate age – preferably in its teen, something smooth and potent brewed in some farm in the scottish highlands. He would even welcome a puff or two of the “holy herb” so that for a while at least he can find an wear a goofy smile and contemplate the relative virtues of the colour blue or some equally profound nonesense.
He can’t do any of that. And sleep has eluded him. He must maintain his composure. He must pursue wisdom and uphold his duty. So he walks alone, tears flowing freely, his shoulders slumped and his steps shuffling on the hard cement street.
He walks alone.
A cat falls into step with him. “Meaow..,” says the cat.
“Meaow,” he replies. He is a cat person and can speak the language. Hi.
He finds it interesting that the cat is walking with him as he slowly shuffles down the street. He reaches the end and turns back to walk back up the street. The cat turns with him. Falls into step with him. Up and down that street they go, quietly together. The cat occasionally frolics and runs ahead, then allows him to catch up. He is entertained by the notion that the cat feels him and wants to be a comfort to him.
For a moment, his problems are forgotten Just then, he is a man with a friend who understands him. For a moment, he is just a man, a cat person.
For a moment, just walking with the cat, he matters. For a moment, he has one being who likes him, no strings attached. For a moment, he is only a man walking with a cat at 3am in the morning.
He sits on a pavement and the tears flow more freely. And the chubby came onto his lap and showed him kindness and care as only cats can.
And at 3 on a Monday morning, the man is strengthened. He can move forward just one more day.