“Daddy?” said Chad (the gray one). “Tell the story of how you got us?”
“Oh, come on,” I sighed. “I need to sleep. Besides, I’ve told you a million times.”
Creeping up to the pillow, he whispered, “But we wanna hear it again, though.”
“I don’t,” said Mason (the brown one), licking a paw.
“You were rescues,” I murmured, turning over.
“No! Tell it right,” Chad insisted, head-butting me in the process. “The whole version.”
“Oh, all right,” I grumbled. “You were born in a vacant lot in Brooklyn. You were only two weeks old when you were found. Mason, you were found first. You had a really severe throat wound from one of the tomcats in your delightfully feral herd.”
“Tried to kill me,” Mason offered, nonchalantly.
“The vet who patched you up said you probably wouldn’t make it, but you were tough and you held on. The next day, Chad was found halfway up a chain link fence, screaming in the rain.”
“That’s a sad part!” marveled Chad.
“You guys were so tiny, and your eyes weren’t even open yet. You had to be nursed by hand, then taught to eat real food, and use the litter box, and all the other wonderful tricks you do, like: oh yeah, nothing.”
“I do too do a trick,” Mason objected. “I can jump from the bed to the dresser, but you have to watch me or it doesn’t count. I’d do it right now, but that story freaks me out.”
“Sometimes I eat cheese,” volunteered Chad.
“And we both talk in English,” Mason added sagely. “Don’t forget that.”
“You’re right; those are pretty good tricks,” I conceded. “Anyway, you spent the next few months in and out of the vet’s office, what with all your various ailments and street diseases: worms, conjunctivitis, polio – you name it. Between the endless shots and ointments you needed to live, it would’ve been cheaper to go to a breeder and buy a solid gold Persian.”
“Yeah, but we were worth it!” insisted Chad. “…Right?”
“I guess so. It’s hard to tell after eight years of constantly interrupted sleep.”
“We were,” Chad purred reassuringly, punctuated by another head-butt. “Besides, we like it here better than stupid Brooklyn.”
“Me too,” I yawned, pulling them both in for a little snuggle time.
“NO!” protested Mason, squirming free and springing to the foot of the bed.
“We’re big!” agreed the other one indignantly, joining his brother. They tucked their paws under themselves, assuming Cat Boat Position, and stared into the darkness as I drifted off.
Later, briefly waking between dreams, I caught them both sleeping on either side of me, pressed in as close as they could get.