Hobs also suffers from a cat-name problem. He’s “Hobs” because he’s orange and Bart grew up on Calvin and Hobbes. He’s “Hobs” instead of “Hobbes” because the cute chick behind the desk at the vet’s office when Bart first got him put “Hobs” down—I guess we can say with certainty that she was neither a comics fan nor a philosopher—and it stuck.
I usually call him “old man” because he acts like it, always wandering around the house or back yard muttering about how inadequate kids today are. He means us.
He’s a better hunter than Squeaky. She’s never brought down a rabbit or a bird. But he didn’t catch the dragon, now did he? And I’ll tell you why, just so you understand something about him. He could have caught that dragon the second it came down the ridge, before it burned its second house down. But no one asked him, so fuck them. He’s loyal to the people he’s chosen to be loyal to—even if he thinks we’re idiots—but he’s not sticking his neck out for people he doesn’t know who won’t come over and do a little ass-kissing in order to get his help.
Don’t think of him as some kind of aged Mafioso. Think of him as the world-weary gun-slinger. He’s got skills to handle dangerous situations, but he’s not just going to use them on anyone.
I walk most mornings, out to the far back of our yard, then along the fence-line to the AT&T yard and then up on Lloyd. I’m usually gone about a half an hour. The walk is strange in one small way—no matter how far down Lloyd I go before I turn around, the walk takes a half an hour. I could get out on Lloyd, go maybe ten feet, realize it’s raining too heavily for me, turn back around, come home and I’ve been gone a half an hour. Or it’s a beautiful, cool morning with the fog just rising up out of the trees in the hills, the stars winking out as the pink of dawn hits the sky, and I decide I’m going to the school and back. Still a half an hour. How? I can’t explain.
At the end of my walk, no matter how far I’ve gone, by the time I get back across the AT&T yard, Hobs is waiting for me. He comes out of the blackberry bramble just as I’m wondering if the orange cat is going to be waiting for me today. Then he rubs up against my ankles, meows in a friendly, happy manner, and walks back to the house with me.
He seems always pleasantly surprised to see me, like he’s expecting that one day he might come out to walk me home and I’m not going to make it to meet him.