Recently, our neighbor Albert was found dead at Echo Park Lake. Unexpected as Albert wasn't elderly. He was a Vietnam vet, who did computer repair. He always wore a button-down shirt, usually short-sleeved. For many years he was a volunteer at the polls, and I have never voted in Echo Park without having a conversation with Albert. He knew my cat, who had been the ward of a young, irresponsible artist who abandoned her. For a while Monkey lived free -- or was homeless -- and had to fend for herself. She was a good gopher and bird catcher, a charismatic creature and mother, a Manx, and the minute she got a chance to move back into a house with people she seized it. Albert used to ask about her. He'd ask, "Is Monkey still alive?" Or, when I told him that she was probably laying on her back on the couch with her feet in the air, he said, "She survived!" A sense of real admiration in his voice. Then I'd vote for candidates of whom he probably disapproved.
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