Black cat at night. He moves with the stealth of a master predator, one painted with the color of darkness that makes him invisible after the sun falls below the horizon.
Yet something sees him, something large and traveling in a pack, something powerful and hungry.
The cat slinks across grass wet with dew, his movement silent, his steps meticulously planned and executed.
And still the coyotes look on, watch closely, coordinate their attack with whispers and glances few could notice.
Sans warning, a blur of dark coats move with suddenness that ensnares the feline in a trap, encircles him with fangs bared, surrounds him with snarls and growls.
There is nowhere to run. Still he tries.
Then it’s done. Held in the mouth of a canine, his skull and neck pierced, his jaw dislocated, the cat fights back with all the means at his disposal.
Claws stab the coyote’s face from all sides, blades kicking and scratching with a fierceness the large animal had not anticipated, could not foresee.
In a stroke of luck, pain overcomes the hunting instinct and the powerful jaws relax just enough for the cat to escape, to flee, to run up the nearest arboreal refuge where coyotes cannot follow.
But the damage is done…
Fiction? Perhaps, at least to a small degree, although not entirely.
A fractured skull. A jaw that doesn’t quite fit together. A hairless scar above the shoulders. A mind separated from body when it matters most. And sometimes when it doesn’t matter at all.
al-Zill fights every moment in often feeble attempts to will his form into submission.
More often than not, he asks for that which his frame cannot provide. Chasing his tail means smacking his head against the wall or falling off furniture. Walking across the room can be successful…or not. Even standing can prove difficult: he falls sometimes. Not just falls, though. Collapses.
Entwined with the innocence and mischief of youth, he gets up and keeps going. His purr never wavers. His ebullience never wanes. And his spirit never gives up.
I see the battle in his face, at least from time to time.
Mostly I see an indomitable feline making the most of his life irrespective of the setbacks and failures.