Stories from The Life and Times of Author, Roger Dean Kiser - Reprinted with permission.
I left California about 13 years ago and moved to Brunswick, Georgia. Since that time, hardly a day goes by that I do not think about returning to fish for stripped bass in the beautiful California Delta.
I, like many other people, cannot afford a very elaborate vacation. My Social Security disability check, together with Judy's job as a waitress, will not allow us to head off to Rome or other fancy places such as that. However, we had managed to put back a little money and my dream of again fishing in the California Delta waters, was finally coming true.
The round trip tickets would cost us less than $400.00, and two days of fishing would cost about $100.00 per day. In addition, Judy and I were invited to stay, at no charge in the home of my best friend Danny, who was in need of a liver transplant. With our round trip airline tickets in hand, and $400.00 in cash, off we flew to sunny California.
The first day of our vacation was spent with Dan and Lois. We talked, laughed and made up for lost time in our friendship.
Dan and Lois live right on the edge of a very poor area, known to most as the dreaded, "Airport District." It is not a very good neighborhood and if you are unknown, your personal safety was something you had to be very careful about. Nevertheless, on Tuesday morning I was up early and decided to take a stroll around the old neighborhood.
This was the same area where my former in-laws had lived before their deaths. I noticed that not much had changed since I left, some years ago. The young teenage kids were still cursing and fighting with each other, as their individual gangs trotted down the street to see what they could steal from the local corner markets.
I slowly walked down the edge of the street until I got to the corner of Connie Way. I looked at the large water filled holes aligning the half-paved, pot-ridden roadway, filled with trash and mud, just as they had been thirteen years earlier. Half way down the block, I saw the small shack looking house where my in-laws had once lived. As I looked farther down the street, I could see ten or fifteen old broken down junk cars lining the roadway, as well as tons of used, worthless, old tires, large piles of trash, crushed tin cans, and broken glass bottles. It was like looking at a war zone where someone had dropped an atomic bomb. It was a place where nothing would ever change, for a thousand years or more. There was absolutely no color for the eye to see except a light, white gray. Everything looked dead and totally barren of life.
I jumped as I felt something rub against my leg. When I looked down, I saw a small cinnamon colored cat rubbing back and forth against me. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that the cat's leg was severely injured. I picked the animal up in my arms, carried it back to Danny's house, and gave it bowls of food and water. I watched as she ate the food, gulping every bite as though it had not eaten, or drank in days.
The small cat had a broken leg, which was swollen and it was actually walking on the stub, while dragging its entire foot behind as it traveled along.
I immediately called a veterinarian and explained the situation. I was told they would not take stray cats unless there was someone who would take full responsibility for payment of the treatment.
After visiting with another veterinarian and agreeing to pay a $25.00 examination fee, the cat was examined. We were told that the cat's foot was broken and that its leg had almost been twisted completely off. Amputation of the entire leg, from the shoulder down, was the only recourse. We were also told the injury must have happened at least a week or two before, as the infection had spread into the shoulder. He told us the charge for removing the entire leg would run about one thousand dollars.
Unable to pay the high fee, Judy and I took the cat back to our room. We tried to make it as comfortable as possible throughout the night. The next morning I walked down to the corner store where I learned that earlier in the week four young boys had twisted the cat's leg until it broke, then they smashed its foot with an old car starter. Then they shot it in the back of the neck with a pellet gun, and buried it still half-alive.
For hours, Judy and I stayed on the telephone, trying to find a vet to help us save the animal, but to no avail. Danny finally came into our room and told us it was a hopeless case, and we should just have the cat put to sleep. However, I just could not do that.
"Dan, if I ever accomplish anything in my life, I will save at least one thing from the Airport District," I told him.
Danny looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Roger that is why we have been friends for so many years. You just never give up when it comes to fixing something that is broken, or hurt."
Well, by the end of the day, a surgeon at the Modesto Spay and Neuter Clinic agreed to amputate Cinnamon's leg at their cost, which totaled $377.84.
Judy and I gave up our fishing trip and used the money toward Cinnamon's medical expenses. Sonny's Real Pit Bar BQ threw in $50.00. Our friend Sharen Jackson, though she had many bills because of breast cancer surgery, threw in $130.00, and my son Roger pitched in another $100.00.
The wonderful people at Delta Airlines refused to accept the normal $75.00 fee it normally charges for pets to travel. They insisted that Cinnamon fly home with Judy and me free.
Cinnamon now lives here with us at our home in Brunswick, Georgia. As I sit writing this story, Judy is in the bedroom crying her eyes out. Judy stood silently watching Cinnamon as she used the liter box for the first time in her life. There stood Cinnamon, all alone, trying to cover her business with a now invisible leg that is no longer there.
Here was an innocent little animal that had never hurt anyone. She had her leg broken, almost torn away, and now amputated. Shot in the head, with a pellet gun and then buried alive by four people who call themselves human beings. In spite of all of her suffering, Cinnamon still had the heart to hobble up to a strange man standing on the street corner, in a place that could only be known as "a war zone," and rub against his leg to let him know that she still loves "all" human beings.
It is not Cinnamon or the people mentioned in this story that are the heroes here. The true hero in this story is "the spirit of goodness" and "the spirit of kindness" shown by these people. It's a wonderful, wonderful feeling that lives deep in the hearts of most good, kind and descent people; a special feeling that makes an "honest to goodness hero" appear, when a real hero is needed.