Ben sits atop the low bookcases and watches me work. His striped grey form is framed by duck decoys, a green glass doorknob, a small framed box containing an African locust. Eventually he turns away and hunkers down, watching the titmice fight over the feeder. Still Life with Cat, except for the tail, curled between the duck decoys, flick flick flick.

Eventually, bored by both birds and human, Ben stands up, puts a paw on the wall, and stretches to his full and impressive height. He reaches around the corner of the wall, to where a small mask of the Lord of Infinite Compassion is hanging. He glances over to make sure that he has my full attention, then shoves the mask with a paw.

“BEN! Leave Ganesh alone!”

The damn cat has found one of my great psychological weaknesses. I am a straightener of art. He has learned that if he shoves a painting askew, while I watch, I am physically compelled to get up and straighten it. The photographs in my bedroom are particular prey to this when he wants to be fed. There I am, sleeping the sleep of the reasonably just, and I’ll hear “pat…pat…scraaaape...” And I will rise, half-dead with sleep, to straighten the abused art. Then I’m up already, and he leaps down, runs to the hallway, and looks at me beseechingly to indicate that he’s been fighting ninjas half the night and if I don’t give him something to restore his health bar, he can’t be held responsible for the consequences.

Bloody cat.

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