Why you should care
The best-laid plans of mice and cats often fall asunder.
I was starting out on my nightly walk with the dog when I remembered I had a pot brownie a friend had given me. It was about 10 p.m. and I thought, “Well, why the hell not?” I ducked back in my garage, retrieved the THC treat and ate it. The brownie tasted like weed and chocolate and numbed my tongue a bit.
About an hour later, I returned home with the dog and entered the house. Everyone had gone to bed, and I was starting to feel insanely stoned. But there was this weird sound — sort of like yowling and then scratching — kicking at the periphery of my awareness. I followed the noise into the basement and flipped on the lights. I froze.
My cat Whisky was writhing on the floor, panting and making pained sounds. Something was seriously wrong with the cat and suddenly I was in hell. Delivered to me in no uncertain terms was probably one of the more useful of life’s lessons: This is the reason normal adults don’t take mind-altering psychedelics on weeknights, if at all.
It became increasingly and quickly clear that Whisky needed medical attention. I had two choices:
A. Drive 25 minutes across town, cat in tow, fucked out of my mind to the emergency vet.
B. Wake up my wife and say the cat is in distress and I can’t drive because I’m way too high, so maybe you could just deal with it?
I chose A. As I said, I was high.
I slowly turned my head and saw an angry face. “You can’t park here, you asshole!”
I drove the speed limit and was hyper aware, doing my best to focus on the road. I was feeling OK, all things considered, but after about 10 minutes of driving, it hit me that nothing looked familiar.
I was in some neighborhood that I had never seen before. Somehow I had gotten lost. I pulled over in front of a random building and started fumbling with the GPS on my phone when, suddenly, all holy hell broke loose. Wild lights and a high-pitched shriek assaulted my senses, followed by muffled shouting.
Knock knock knock on the driver’s side window — I slowly turned my head and saw an angry face.
“You can’t park here, you asshole!”
Reality slowly returned and I looked around. I had parked in the driveway of a fire station.
“Move, motherfucker!” screamed the fireman at my window. I put the car in drive and sped off.
When I carried Whisky into the vet’s office, the woman at the front desk could hear him crying. The fluorescent lights were buzzing and I felt like I was underground. Whisky was immediately taken into the back for an examination. About 15 minutes later, the vet appeared.
“Mr. Hall, I’m sorry to tell you this,” she said, “but Whisky has congenital heart failure.”
“OK,” I said, not understanding. “So what do we do?” She explained there was nothing she could do. Whisky was dying.
“Is … is it my fault?” I asked, trembling. “If I got here sooner, would he have been OK?”
“No, Mr. Hall, it’s a genetic defect. All we can do now is make him comfortable as he passes. Would you like to be present?”
My initial instinct was to get the fuck out of there. Death was making an appearance, and in my state of mind, I wanted nothing to do with it. But as I opened my mouth to say “no,” I heard myself instead whimper, “OK, I’ll be with him.” I couldn’t leave Whisky alone. We were in this clinical, white, sterile place and he was probably scared, probably didn’t know what was happening. When I walked into the back and saw him on a table with a tube in his nose and his tongue sticking out, I burst into tears and bent over and hugged and kissed him. I held him and whispered in his ear it would be OK as the medicine entered his bloodstream and his life left him and his spirit went away.
In a daze, I walked back to the front counter. I paid and selected an urn for the ashes. Then I walked outside and sat on the ground and lit a cigarette. I phoned home. It was 5 a.m.
I explained to my wife what had happened, and she cried and said I should come home. I got there with no incident, feeling like I was in some kind of fucked-up lucid dream. I was exhausted as I walked upstairs. My wife was waiting, and I hugged her and said, “I need to sleep.” She said OK and that she would tell the kids.
My head hit the pillow as I heard my wife go into my youngest daughter’s room and say, “Baby, I have something to tell you.” The surprise and shock and horror in my daughter’s voice was the last thing I heard before I passed out.