Having lived in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood for two years, I came to be somewhat familiar with a small band of miscreants who loitered under a particular street lamp on Hillside Street, always outside the same little clapboard house with an overgrown iron gate. Walking by the house, one could watch them coming and going all day, but in the hours of about 2-4 a.m., once most of the drunk college kids had cleared off the street, these guys would start to congregate. On an average night, it would be a few familiar figures sitting directly under the light post or in the street, just hanging around. There was always one smaller outsider, progressively trying to get closer to the center until he was chased off by a more prominent fixture in the gang.
They weren’t particularly worrisome on their own, but in the little clapboard house lived an elderly woman who would also appear in the early hours of the morning. If you lingered to gawk at the seven to ten shadows in the street for too long, she would start hollering and shaking her broom at you (always a broom, without fail) and telling you to back off, that they were dangerous and diseased. To further drive home her point, these figures never contested her claims, nor did they ever pay her any mind at all, her broom-shaking be damned.
I affectionately dubbed them the Mission Hill Cat Gang and somewhat enjoyed seeing them on my late walks home, the rather ritualistic way they would position themselves around the street lamp’s single beam or how, inevitably the elderly woman would appear out of thin air to scream at me for walking down the same street the cats occupied.
We became rather familiar, the Mission Hill Cat Gang and I, particularly after this past summer. Since arriving in Greece, I’ve posted some photos of the members of the Alexandrias Street Cat Gang, the true purr-veyors of pain. I can say with a relatively high degree of certainty that the Alexandrius Street crew would eat the Mission Hill Cat Gang alive.
Here, every day, dozens of cats nap outside our balconies and while all of them are flea-infested and underfed (mere lightweights compared to the fat cats of Mission Hill, whom I’ve come to believe are consistently fed by their elderly companion), each night they reenact the various fight scenes of Shawshank Redemption in the alley beside our windows. Like clockwork, I wake up around 2:30 a.m. to hear them yammering mid-fight, followed by another half hour of the low moans of the soundly bloodied loser. The victor, I assume, is off somewhere else in the city, perhaps revving a tiny motorbike through Thessaloniki’s narrow streets while waiting for the next round of Feline Fight Club to begin.
I, on the other hand, will be investing in some ear plugs.
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