The Black and White Cat

   The other morning Al went out to fetch the newspaper ... as always ... bright and early (5:30).
   As he opened the door and felt something at his feet as he stepped outside, he pushed it aside with his foot thinking the mostly black cat was a neighbors'.  The moon was out but it was still dark.
   Both ambled, side by side, down the deck toward the road ... Al befuddled that the cat hadn't run away.
   He paused, opened the gate to our deck, stepped down and, again, not wanting the cat to try sneaking into the house when he returned, absentmindedly used his foot to sweep the cat off of the deck. 
  The motion detector light, over our garage door, blazed to life when he stepped onto our gravel driveway. 
   Aware of the feline presence, step by step, Al shook his head.  What a strange cat, Al thought to himself. 
   From the corner of his eye Al caught something strange.  Then, taking a closer look at the cat ... Al halted, not daring to breathe too loudly.
   He stood absolutely; the cat continued forward.  Al, fighting a sudden impulse to RUN, took a step backwards.  The gravel crunched under his foot, the feline turned, glared at him then reared its tail. 
   They both stood absolutely STILL.
   Then she ambled on slowly, gracefully, but with her tail still arched in the air, the white stripe down her back gleaming.
   Al slowly continued stepping backward all the way to the deck.
   The skunk continued down past our newspaper container by the paved road without looking back.  She crossed the street and disappeared in the neighbor's yard. 
   Only then did Al dare venture back to fetch the paper ... with haste.
   Inside, he shared his tale and said, "Remind me not to ease a cat off the porch again with my foot."
   Fortunately, we could all laugh that he hadn't been sprayed.

Civil Duty

I'm not sure who is or isn't a Vet here but I wanted to say my 'two cents' about duty to one's country: my first husband flunked his mental and my current one, Al, served in Vietnam which he rarely talks about.  Al returned to Vietnam TWICE as a civilian helicopter mechanic--unarmed but surrounded by soldiers--and would either repair the aircraft or explode it.  War isn't pretty but who wants our weapons falling into the wrong hands?

                                   Civil Duty

 "I" tried to do my civic duty and join the military although I was opposed to the war in Vietnam (considered it a civil matter).

 The recruiter laughed, "You want to 'sign up'."

 "Yes, sir, Sir."

 "You want to fight?"

 "No, sir, Sir.  Just finish my education ... perhaps become a nurse."

 "Ever held a guy?"

 "No, sir, Sir."

 "Why are you repeating yourself?"

 "I've seen war movies, sir, Sir.  It's considered respect.  Right?"

 "You in college, miss?  You type?"

 "Gave up my scholarship, Sir.  My family of seven needed to eat more than I needed a diploma.  I do type, Sir, and currently work at Sears part-time."

 "What do you do at Sears, miss?"

 "I work in the snack bar."

 "Doesn't your Father support your family?"

 "My Father died when I was only five, Sir.  My mother is an invalid, my older sister is married and I have four younger siblings that ought to graduate high school.  I don't want them to go hungry and be unable to concentrate on their homework."

 "You care about them, love them a lot to drop out of college."  He paused,  "Your heart is in the right place, miss, and you'd do our country proud.  However, I'm not going to even ask your name.  You don't belong in the military, young lady.  You're too young, too pretty and way too sweet.  It would ruin you."

 "I beg your pardon, Sir." He ticked me off.  "I work hard, have done the work of several boys what with the upkeep of our lawn and all.  I'm smart, strong and willing to serve the United States of America."

 "You already showed me that ... by walking through that door, miss."

 He got up, came around the desk, walked to the door and turned around.  "Our boys need someone to come home to, someone like you.  If we let everyone go to war, who will stand by those who serve when everyone else shuns them?  Who will hold them when they can't sleep at night, tend their wounds, feed and clothe them, bear their children and love them in spite of any and everything they may have done.  Think about it."

 Then he opened the door for me.  "I honestly hope you don't go anywhere else to sign up.  Someone might let you serve and, believe me, that would be a pity."