An everyday backpack, harmless but smelly, he lugs amid suspicious stares from shifty fellow commuters. My face contorts this way and that, poopy, as I walk by to fish a seat far far away, gasping for a breath of unavailable fresh air. I imagine him, laying in bed, his nostrils muffed in multicolor fur balls, dangling out and in arrhythmic snores. I count a good eleven cats in and around his bed. Calicos, gingers, uncles, nephews, clawed, snoring, fixed, hungry, lazy, loud, feisty. Adjectivally/adverbially named for convenience and storage. His carpets, crunchy with flyaway cat litter. A distant scratch on an expensive couch, rendered inexpensive.
A muffled bubbling of cat pee. An ammoniacal breeze that sits like a stain on everything owned and disowned.
I hear an old black lady complaining about the smell on the train. “Y’all babies need a bath!”
Fated, we exit the train at the same stop. He scurries ahead of me, rushes to the little gated nook by the stairs to the station. Carefully, he unlids three cans of cat food and pushes them under the gate. Three flavors of mushy offal meat, that churn my insides. This followed by a few scoops of animal shaped dry nibbles into a blue bowl. He squeezes the life of his water bottle into a third bowl and slides it under. A three course meal, fit for a neighborhood of strays.
He stands up and smiles, content, and licks off a bit of spilled meat juice from his fingers.