Abecedarian (a-be-ce-da’-ri-an): An acrostic whose letters do not spell a word but follow the order (more or less) of the alphabet.

A big crow descended, eerily flying, going hurriedly into Joey’s Mangetout nursery. We went inside the greenhouse to find the Crow, but it had flown out the other end. His visit was short, but he had dropped off a newborn kitten, eyes still closed, on the soft dirt spaded around one of the bean plants. Crows had always been good to me. I loved them and my nickname was Crow. But anyway, now a Crow had delivered a newborn kitten. I asked my friend, “What’re the odds? I think they are incalculable.” Melanie told me to go ahead and take charge of the kitten—I was good at those kinds of things. As I drove the kitten home, I tried to think of a clever name for him. After running hundreds of names through my head, like Clipper, Felix, Mewbert, and Peter, I settled on Byron. I don’t know why. He hadn’t had a chance to display any characteristics to be named after. I guess I just liked Byron.

So, I bottle-fed Byron and cuddled him. He was short-haired and pure white with a remarkable marking on his forehead: a perfectly shaped black heart. As Byron grew, I trained him to walk on a leash. People would ooh and aah at his heart marking. One day I was walking along Canal Street with Byron. An elderly woman walking toward us stopped and suddenly yelled “Stop right there.” I recognized her from her picture on the flyers taped all over the neighborhood. She read tarot cards out of a small storefront. She was notoriously good at it, helping people deal with their destinies. She said: “Your cat is special.” Byron looked at her as she spoke. I asked “In what way is he special?” “You will find out,” she said, laughed, turned around, and walked away. We took the shortcut through the alley when suddenly a guy with a knife appeared out of nowhere. “Give it to me!” he yelled. I had no idea what he wanted. “Give me the cat or I’ll kill you!” I was stunned. Byron sprung into action. With a deep growl, he leapt at the robber’s head and clawed out one of his eyeballs. He dropped the knife, screamed, and fell to the ground sobbing for help. Byron and I walked away like nothing had happened. Byron’s tail was sticking straight up—a sign he was happy.

Then I got audited by the IRS. They let me bring Byron because I told them he was my comfort cat. We sat down and the agent started to speak: “We are concerned about . . .” And Byron started purring. The agent blinked his eyes shook his head and continued “the mistake we’ve made making you come in for an audit.” Byron purred. The agent continued: “In fact, the IRS owes you $60,000.” Byron purred. The agent continued: “whoops, my mistake, it’s $600,000. You should get a check in two weeks.” Byron looked at me and winked!

This sort of thing has been going for years now. Byron’s purr has some sort magical power. I often wonder where the crow had found him and why I had ended up ‘owning’ him. I don’t care if I ever find the answer. We are pals forever. We’re going to look at a new Maserati tomorrow.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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