The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Words from the road

Rachael Conlin Levy
Courtesy of Jasmic.

We honked, neighbors waved goodbye, and the caravan of mini-van, tent-trailer and U-Haul swung around the corner and our home was out of sight. A block down the street, the walkie-talkie crackled and the voice of one son filled the cab.

“Hi, Mom. I wanted to make sure your radio was working.”

Crackle. Hiss. “It’s working. How’s it going? Over.”


“Where’s your dad going? Over.”

Crackle. Hiss. “I don’t know.”

“I thought we were going to Seattle.”

“So did I.”

Silence, followed by crackle and hiss.

“Yeah, Dad says we’re going to Seattle, too.”

After four weeks of solo parenting, I was looking forward to the kid-less time in the U-Haul. I’d gladly take one yowling cat and one mother (hitching a ride to visit my sister and her new baby), in exchange for my husband taking the kids, their complaints and the newborn bunnies. I’d thought the bunnies, nestled in fur next to their mother’s cage, would be the biggest hassle on this trip, but 10 miles into the 700-mile trip I learned otherwise.

The air of the U-Haul filled with a stench that forced me to roll down the window, hold my nose and swerve off the road. The cat had crapped.

Crackle. Hiss. “I’m pulling over to clean up the cat,” I radioed my husband.

A half-hour spent at the gas station and we were back on the road, the cat wet, the air a tad fragrant but breathable again.

At first, I tried to decipher the cat’s meows by rating its frequency and pitch. Once they reached what I believed was an urgent level, I’d swing off the road, pull the cat out of the carrier, snap on a leash and wait. The cat would cower at my feet, then gingerly cross the foreign landscape and hide under a bush, where the whites of its eyes glowed in the shadows. Apparently, it was too scared to move let alone relieve its bowels, because twenty minutes down the road … sniff, sniff. Ugh.

Crackle. Hiss.
“I’m pulling over to clean up the cat,” I radioed my husband, again.

Urine splashed over the snacks and drinks, shit smeared across a shirt and the next half-hour was spent swearing, swabbing and spraying bleach. I gave up second-guessing the cat and just responded to the scent in the cab.

Crackle. Hiss.
“I’m pulling over to clean up the cat,” I radioed my husband, yet again.

After the third clean-up, I happily exchanged my seat in the U-Haul for one behind the wheel of our minivan, infused with kid sweat and bunny fur, but, sniff, sniff, mercifully free of cat.

2 responses to “Words from the road”

  1. Who knew there was so much shit inside your cat?!!!!! UGGG! I'm glad you're back to writing. I was thinking about you all day! Hugs, Kyndale

  2. Andrea says:

    Mmm…good times! I love it when some much worse alternative makes me more appreciative of my own offspring (usually it's other peoples' kids, but I can see how cat crap could serve in a pinch).

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