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Monday, October 22, 2012

Convenience Store Stories: Schrodinger's Cat

Fiction By Steve Siciliano

On the morning of his seventy-fifth birthday Erwin Schrodinger found a kitten huddling beneath the picnic table under his back yard grape arbor. He had gone out in a light rain shortly after dawn to toss handfuls of Cheerios along the line of Rose of Sharons. When he was done he leaned against the chain-link fence and looked up at the bare branches of the maples then down at the blackening green pods lying in the grass underneath the walnut tree. “There they come, Mary,” he said when the first few sparrows began appearing. “Now your birds are happy.” It was when he was walking back to the house that he spied the cat.

Erwin wiped off his glasses on his shirt tail. “Well look it there, Mary,” he said. “A little white kitten.” He stooped down, reached into the plastic bag and tossed out a handful of Cheerios. “Are you hungry?” The cat looked at Erwin and meowed. ‘Okay, Mary,” Erwin said, then went into the house and came back with a bowl of milk.

While the kitten lapped the milk Erwin went into the garage. “Now where did I put that old cat bed? Ahh, there it is. Now aren’t you glad I didn’t throw it away? Where do you think it came from, Mary? Yes I’m going to keep it. It’s my birthday after all. Did you remember it’s my birthday, Mary? Now where’s that litter box?”

That afternoon Erwin walked to C’s for cat food and a bag of litter. “Today’s my birthday,” he told the young clerk.

“That’s nice, pop. Eight seventy-four.”

“I found a kitten.”

“That’s nice, pop. Eight seventy-four.”

“A little white kitten,” Erwin said and smiled.

“Twenty-six cents back. Have a nice day, pop.”

When Erwin was out the door the clerk shook his head and lit a cigarette. “He’s kind of a strange old duck.”

Michael Adams looked up from his liquor order. “Oh he’s a nice guy. His wife died a couple of weeks ago.”

“I think he’s a little goofy.”

“Well, maybe a little,” Michael said.

On a nasty morning in February when Erwin Schrodinger went out to feed the birds he didn’t notice that the cat had slipped out behind him. It was when he was walking up the porch steps that he saw paw prints in the snow.

“How long has she been gone?” Michael asked while he watched Erwin tacking a flyer to the store’s bulletin board.

“About seven days now.”

“In this weather?” the clerk said. “Ain’t no way that cat’s still alive.”

“Shut up, Frankie,” Michael said. “You know Erwin, someone might have taken her in.”

“I know, Michael. I know there’s the possibility that my cat Sadie is alive.” He placed the cup of thumb tacks on the counter then looked at the clerk. “Then again this young man might be right. There’s also the distinct possibility that she’s dead. I look at it this way, young man. At this moment, Sadie is both dead and alive. I guess I won’t know one way or the other until I actually see her.” He began walking out of the store then stopped and turned. “Until I see her with my own eyes. One way or the other.”

“I told you that old man is goofy,” the clerk said a little while later.

“I don’t think so,” Michael said. He was looking at the picture of Erwin Schrodinger’s cat on the flyer. “As a matter of fact, I’m quite convinced now that he’s not.”

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