Love In Man’s Land

by Paul Steven Stone

He had dared step out from the anonymity of his own ‘safe’ territory to a zone where the enemy could attack at will at any moment. He had been here before, so he knew what to expect. Within five seconds after beginning to call out to his heart’s companion, the enemy fire would begin.

Left, right…the artillery could come from either side. High, low…you could never anticipate the arc of the incoming trajectory. Heavy, light…the frequency of the firing was mercurial, often depending on the mood of his unseen adversaries and the nature of the weapons they had to hand.

You would think the presence of danger would inhibit his behavior. That the cough syrup bottle that hit him on the nose last night might have soothed his ardor, if it did nothing for his scratchy throat.

There was a time he could have called out to his girlfriend at 3 am with impunity, for long minutes at a stretch. A time when he could have sat on any segment of the back alley fence and caterwauled without fear of human threats and imprecations. Without the eruption of curses, soon to be followed by enemy artillery fire…shoes, sneakers, old 45 records, soup spoons, cough syrup bottles, broken umbrellas and half-filled plastic garbage bags.

But that was three weeks ago—a veritable lifetime to a cat in love—soon after he first met his Juliet and had his heart stolen for life.

How quickly his worst fears had been realized. And the lesson swiftly burnt into his tiny cat’s brain. That human beings, the strangest creatures he knew, had no place in their hearts for love at 3am.