“Fighting Like Brothers” By Chad Robert Parker

If you thought it was bad trying to find acceptance in the new middle school, have I got a bully story for you. Try being a stray cat. Jazz-man had to fit in with a long established family cat: a cat that acted like sole owner, nay ruler, of the house and occupants the stray had been taken into. Kibbles immediately asserted dominance.

He would hiss and claw at Jazz-man at every opportunity. We often found Jazz-man hiding in the bookshelves wedged where only one animal could fit. He would be shaking and heaving, hadn’t touched his food or drink all day: a complete basket case of nerves. Besides that, Jazz-man was healing, replenishing fur and skin, from some obvious difficulties on the streets. It took a couple weeks but Kibbles threats started to wear off. Jazz-man had gained enough street smarts to sense it.

Jazz-man began testing Kibbles resolve and standing his ground. He was sizing Kibbles up for real. They got in a couple good scrape ups before they suddenly respected each other. I’m not sure we saw the full transformation. For a while we would come home and catch Kibbles letting Jazz-man clean his fur, which he would obviously stop allowing once he was spotted. Then we noticed their skirmishes seemed more like play. If one got hurt the other let up and then they were back at it shortly thereafter sneaking up and pouncing on each other, once again.

I still remember the days of Jazz-man’s eyes flitting in between bookshelves, testing whether it was safe to come out or not. But, I remember more the many years that followed where Jazz-man basically became the playmate in place of the¬†brother that Kibbles had lost as a kitten. They were best friends forever.

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