He's reclining on the stack of radical newspapers, near the science section, pondering the browsing customer. It's a couple years ago, almost to the date, that the woman who works at the laundromat down the street rushed into the shop, obviously distressed, holding out her hand in which a sodden, mewling lump lay. "I don't know what to do with this", she said, thrusting the tiny cat into my hands. Someone had left him in a machine.
His eyes were barely open, and oozing green pus. He breathed rapidly, with a rasp. It seemed his breastbone might be broken. He had hardly any muscle mass or fat beneath the skin and unimpressive shabby grey fur.
I thought, holding him, at least his last hours or days can be in loving hands. So I dried him, washed the pus from his eyes, gave him an eyedropper of water, offered him some bits of food. He nudged the food with his tiny nose, but didn't eat.
My daughter and I gave him eyedroppers of kitten supplements, and we got antibiotics to combat the pneumonia. And we held him, and talked to him, and patted him.
He surprised us all by deciding to live. Within a week he was chomping down catfood and starting to bounce over to the big yellow dog, Buddy, and the very furry princess-like store cat, Destiny. Destiny tolerated him. Buddy licked him.
We named him Pippin, not for the Lord of the Rings character, but because of his tiny size, his sweetness. Reminded me of little green apples. But then our namings have been eccentric; in her childhood my daughter named a black cat Rose and a male striped cat Wendy, for reasons known only to her. And the orange cat Radish. She currently has a kitten she has named Jesus, apparently for the shock value when she says, mildly, must go home and feed Jesus, or Jesus peed on the kitchen floor. We haven't mentioned Jesus's name to the conservative branch of our family. Jesus, by the way, is a small calico female.
Pippin is a handsome, lordly Maine Coon sort of cat. He watches over the bookstore visitors and now and then demands tribute. He brings us, alas, dead mice, laid out decoratively in the fabric arts section, and perches on the computer monitor when the weather gets cold, staring longingly out the window to the blackbirds.
I suspect he composes poetry in his spare time.