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Cat came back 

The danger when the fence between cats and dogs comes down.

On Monday morning, when things have finally calmed down, I decide to focus on the fence in the backyard that fell during the hurricane. We’re lucky the fence didn't kill anyone, for it was broken before Sunday’s storm. Most things half-broken then broke completely. Including, it turns out, my relations with the dogs living on the other side of the fence.

Yanking apart the fence with a crowbar is kind of fun. Jam metal under wood, pry up nails, pull apart slats, repeat. A mallet’s thwack easily releases the posts. Not labourers by trade, we rest frequently, sipping large mugs of barbecued tea and munch on muffins. The woman who lives next door leaves for Allen Street, where a tree fell on her sister’s house. Her large cat, Allie, wanders past me. I kick off my boots.

Then two vicious-looking dogs—one blonde and the other dark, pit bulls I’m told later—bolt into the yard, over the now-broken fence. I can see their target: Allie, who I’m now petting. Immediately, Allie flies. She shoots toward the crawl space under the neighbour's deck. Too tight a fit. The blonde dog grabs her. Its jaw clenches her.

I freak. I spin out of the Adirondack chair and fling myself toward the three animals, screaming. My “no” and my “get out now” are low and guttural. It’s not my voice. This isn’t really happening. Allie isn’t going to die in the mouths of these dogs. They want to rip her apart. I’m livid. I see the fallen post propping up the fence. I consider smashing the post against the dogs. I realize I can’t. I see myself between them. Time is eternal. I keep yelling. The dogs leave. I don’t know how. Allie flees in the other direction. I am shaking.

I imagine Allie crawling to her death. I cross the street and call her sweetly and softly. I crawl around the hole vacated by an immense fallen tree in the Salvation Army parking lot. I imagine her in the shed crushed by the tree. We discover a secret mini-park and path to Gottingen Street between the popped-off slats of a fence. She is not there. Just moments before the fight, I had explained to my friends that Allie is a real cat. A fat cat. A cat that knows she is a cat, and loves being a cat. Contented.

Still checking under cars, I wander back into the yard calling Allie’s name. I am still shaky. Lisa tells me she reamed out the owner of the dogs, and he was unapologetic. In my sock-feet, I walk over the hedge and explode. He is re-adjusting scraps of fence around the dogs. He spouts a short sequence of truisms. There is nothing he can do, he says. Dogs chase cats. The fence is broken. Fuck you, I think.

There is one place I haven’t checked for Allie: the other driveway. I see my neighbour yelling at some kids bugging the kittens in the abandoned house beside hers. Later on this lawless day, I will find out those kids killed one.

In the end, I finally found Allie half-under the neighbour’s fence, looking at me with woeful eyes. I creep toward her. She doesn’t run from me. Slowly she emerges, apparently unhurt. I guide her through her open window into her apartment. It is finally over.

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