There’s no shortage of hustlers, charlatans and hobos at Kirkland House and our four-legged guests are no different. Toby, the gray kitten shown here, was the runt of his litter and a sickly constipated wreck before this fuzzball slung his bindle onto the KF food train. After two months’ of Mama Su fussing over him like an Italian mom, Toby’s appetite is insatiable, but unless you want to give him an enema every couple of days, it’s best to keep him on wet food. Nonetheless, Toby will do his best to charm you out of a scoop of IAMS kibble and fold his ears back and glare at you if you don’t fall for his scam. You can take the hustler off the street, but you can’t take the street out of the hustler.
In the older demo, Mr. Potts, our only outdoor resident, checked in with a broken jaw and puncture wounds from scuffle with some dogs, a weak eye and kidney damage from chronic dehydration. Four months later, this junkyard cat is the size of a Russian black bear and feared by all but two creatures onsite. He’ll think nothing of taking a paw scoop of food from your bowl if he’s hungry or pushing the front door open if you’re mad doggin’ him from behind the glass. He’s one of my all-time favorites and but for his need to spray everything, including me, he’d have a spot in the cat tower by my desk to keep the other furry halfwits off my keyboard.
But for some reason, all the KF shadies and grifters defer to Mr. Hobbs, our aged ginger with the open wound. As Hobbs repairs and wanders around the grounds, it’s fascinating to see our other self-presumed toughies stand down in respect. His command of prison slang suggests a colorful past—we don’t clean his kennel, we “toss his rack”, he calls his meds “the Skittles” and roaming the property “taking rec on the Yard”. And when he’s bogarting the space heater in Garage 1 or being immodest, no one’s calling him out on it. He reminds me of Whitey Bulger who ruled the South Boston underworld with a savage hand back when I did a 6-year bit in Boston in the 80s. Like Hobbs, Whitey could walk the street unmolested and was pretty damned charming for guy who could and would sort you out for eyeballing him wrong.
Earlier today, while Mamas Su and Renee prepared another 15 or so inmates for release, Hobbs created a stir in the Big House, when he discovered an open door and decided to see for himself where the warden sleeps. After stops at the chow hall and water fountain, he found his way in the master bedroom, sending the cell warriors slinking away as he climbed up and found a comfy spot. He spent the better part of the day skating the bed, content that his street cred was the only crow he needs and he’s ducked the stainless steel ride that claimed too many of his old friends. At this point, Hobbs is more like Buddy in Ozark—an old school wiseguy who doesn’t really care if his skinny dipping bothers you—than Whitey in his prime, but whatever, this lifer still pretty cool for an old guy. Hobbs.