Somewhere In the Headlights


By Shawn Spjut

Zipper found her way into my life at a time where tomorrow was just another day marked by credit card debt and the never ending job of feeding insatiably hungry teenage boys. On an artic night, the life of a tiny orange and white kitten was caught somewhere in the headlights of my Honda Civic, and will be forever remembered for her claws, her bad temper, and the incredible joy she brought to one woman’s journey in the struggle to overcome the ebb and flow of life.

It was the winter of 1998 and I was in the midst of yet another financial crisis, trying to feed two teenage boys, pay off an avalanche of self imposed credit card debt and struggling to salvage enough dignity to keep the rest of the world from knowing just how desperate I’d become.

Six months earlier I had come across an add in the newspaper offering jobs  delivering the local newspaper seven days a week. The pay wasn’t much but I figured it just might get me over the hump, with a little extra to spare. And if I minded my peas and queue’s for the next two years, there was a real possibility I just might see the light of financial freedom again.

On this particular night, it was three thirty in the morning and I had been out on my  route for less than an hour when the outside temperature dropped below freezing, Seattle’s infamous fog began to shroud everything below 1000 feet in white, and the left beam of the Honda was died.

With hands covered in ink stained gloves I turned the little cars blower on high, snapped its beams on bright and held my breath while the Honda and I slid from one bank of red polyurethane newspaper tubes to the next.

Another hour into the night found the Honda and I flying around the third dead end street in Riverside Park – a trailer court who’s better days were marked by Gremlin’s mounted on cedar blocks and tarp covered Winnebago’s – when my high-beams unexpectedly glanced over something small, tan and round squatting in the middle of the road.

My immediate thought,  It’s just another orphaned lunch bag, dumped in the middle of the street by some school age child no longer interested peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Having no time for lost lunches, I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and prepared to run over it as all such abandoned things demand to be run over. Yet no sooner had I made my three-thirty AM decision to hit and run, then the now blazing high-beams of my Honda came beam to eye with two blinking orbs.

To this day I’m not sure whether it was the Honda’s precision front wheel drive or my spontaneous prayer of “Oh shit, Oh God!” that kept me from running over Zipper. All I am sure of is that night the universe choose not only to save the life of a kitten, but a woman who, in a momentary flash of insight, recognized the lunch sacks of my own misspent youth.

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