It was nearly midnight and I was driving home after a long day when I realized there was no cat food in the house and I would be facing the same trio of feral cats bright and early at the back door that I face every morning, hungrier than ever.
The cats are fond of my wife but I’m the one who feeds them because I get up so early. So I stopped at the all-night mega-grocery store and headed for the pet food section.
Not a can of cat food in sight.
I asked the night manager, “What happened? Did you have a sale?”
“No, not at all. This happens every time we get near the end of the month,” he said.
"Old folks buy the cat food. Most of them come in late at night because they’re embarrassed. It’s my shift so I get to know a lot of them.
"They run out of money waiting for next month’s check to come. They buy cans of cat food and make their own version of tuna casserole.
"One elderly lady offered to sell me her recipe for five bucks. I wish now I had bought it. She needed the money,”
I had heard for decades that old folks eat cat food when they run out of money but I thought it was an urban legend. Now, at least in this store, not located in a poor neighborhood, that urban legend has been confirmed as fact.
I asked the manager for a favor.
“The next time you see that lady, tell her you have someone who wants to buy her recipe for twenty bucks. Here’s the money. Here’s my number. Call me and I’ll come and get it and give you an extra ten for your trouble.
"I know a couple of folks I want to give it to. One of them will be the next president of the United States and this might make a nice entree at the Inauguration banquet. Both candidates are senior citizens but I bet neither has ever sat down to a meal like this.”
He laughed a bit but said he’d do it. I hope he does.
Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Gloom Cupboard (U.K.), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Black-Listed Magazine, Opium 2.0, Calliope Nerve, Haggard and Halloo, Rusty Truck, Pirene’s Fountain (Australia) and other publications.