Doobie, that child molesting son-of-a-bitch, is dead. They brought him out and laid him on the table and asked if we were okay, if we wanted some time. They had a light load, they could wait, but then that old geezer started going into a seizure between the towels on the stainless steel table, as if the mere mention of time was enough to drive his little brain into shock. So we said, "No," and the big one, Ting, with the beard and sequoia shoulders, put two syringes into the catheter and Doobie ceased all movement. It's strange, because yesterday I was telling a friend how amazing it was that he was still alive at all.

He made the transition from present to past tense. He no longer is. He was. He was, and there wasn't even a moment where it was apparent, nothing to hold onto, to taste and say, "I know what happens when the animated inanimates." Time wasn't kind enough to slow down. Time was smart enough to keep on going.

Of course my mother and I started crying, because we still loved him after all the horrible things he'd done. They told us to take our time, Ting said we could say our good-byes (what good are good-byes if the recipient can't hear them?) and just leave him there when we were finished.

I handed mom a kleenex as they walked away. I held her as she carressed the paw. One of my hands was still on his side, a side that no longer rose and then fell. "Oh, Doobie. Doobie," mom cooed, and he just stared at a point in the wall, baring his teeth because he couldn't help it, being dead and all.

I removed my hand and blew my nose. The flourescent lights hummed their own little dirge for a few minutes, and then I spoke up. "Can I cover him?" That stare was really getting to me.

I was three years old when we found Doobie at the pound. Pound. Impound. How does one impound a stray animal? Is it like impounding a car? Little things about the world don't make sense. He was in a cage about eye level to me, a grey cat with a tag on the door that said Doobie, the only link to his apparently odius past. He was six, I was three. Twenty-four years is a long time for a cat to live.

And I called him a son-of-a-bitch. The feline community would shake their paws and bare their fangs in rage if they knew. But he was. After a few years, he was master of the house, asserting his position over any new kitten that we came to care for. I'd come home from school and hear the howls. The living room was peppered with tufts of fur. It didn't matter if it was a boy or a girl, so long as it was feline and squirmed, but he seemed to prefer boys.

The only other animal in the house who would assert a position of dominance over Doobie was Pete, the little shit of a fox terrier who was eight years younger and slovenly. Near the end of Pete's twelve years, he'd herd the cats away from their food, snarling at them, keeping them in check, in fear.

Doobie cheered up after the dog died, but sheer force of will can only keep something alive for so long. The stroke wasn't a surprise, the seizures something my mother just got used to putting up with. Before the other cats in the house started cleaning him, he smelled like piss and spit.

It was a long life, one that wasn't nearly so mean as I paint it. He was an animal, and did animal things. He was comfort when I would sit in my room and cry during the pain of childhood. He was my first cat, my favorite pet, the old man who astounded everybody by hanging on for so long.

It is Super Bowl Sunday. Lives go on and lives end just as they would any other time. I've had my Old Yeller moment, and now I emulate time and go on.

Farewell, Doobie. Your departure marks the passing of an era, a brief quarter century that maybe only you truly understood.

Doobie is dead. We found him in a cage and he died on a table and in between he merely lived.

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