She thanked me for the pictures I took of her four cats way back last fall. I hadn't spoken with her since but she continued as if we had spoken just yesterday, like we were best friends. With a mix of anger and sadness in her voice, she told me that someone had thrown Midnight, her favorite pet, into the Providence River last winter, never to be seen again. She was grieving even now.
She said Albert was watching their things in the back of the parking lot. "Why don't you go take some pictures of my kitties." she suggested. So I did. When I got there Albert peeled back the blanket that hid them from view and two little white cats peeked out of their cage for the portrait Judy requested.
Albert is a talker. I'm not sure how exactly it started but he began telling me how he grew up in Olneyville. He said he knew a few things about auto repairs and pointed to the baby carriage piled high with all their earthly belongings. Beside a cage containing the two cats, I made out a tarp and lots of bedding. Both back wheels were splayed out under the weight of load. He wasn't worried though. He thought he could fix it. Then he got back to his childhood, how he hid behind the tires at the garage when he was little, how he knew about these kind of repairs, how he worked there as a teenager. They reminded me of two modern day adventurers with a wagon load of all their possessions, looking for the promised land.
Judy came back so Albert could take his turn at the Sunday Friendship Breakfast. But he was in no hurry, still talking about the past. I remarked that the last time we met he barely spoke, only to tell me how he had gotten the side of his face smashed in, and even that in just a few guarded sentences. ("I was asleep. Some guy dropped a cinder block on my head.") Judy said, "Oh yes, her Albert is a talker, from the time he gets up in the morning till the time he goes to sleep. She has never known anyone that could talk as much as Albert."
She was pleased when I showed her the picture I had just taken of her two white cats. She reminded me not to forget to bring it next Sunday. I wanted to know more about these two rough sleepers. I asked if they stayed out all winter and Albert nodded yes. Judy said they usually camped under the bridge behind Providence Place Mall. "But what about when it got really cold?" I asked. She said they would come in to a shelter when it was really bad, sneaking the cats past the desk.
It's obvious they have much affection for each other. I offered to take a few shots of them right now and they were happy to pose. Here's the picture, with their carriage of clothes and the two cats hidden away somewhere amongst their things.