He sat alone, grief and fear evidenced in his low-hung head and cowering posture. Eyes flicked around the room, wary and ready to fight or flee at the slightest provocation. Haggard, dirty, unkempt, unloved. I saw him from across the way. Like so many others, I wasn't here for someone new, I was just passing through, collecting necessities for the people who already belonged in my life; people who had won their place in my heart.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw him, tucked back in a secluded corner, confused and unable to reach out to the world. Pausing, I took him in and realized his inevitable fate. He would die alone and unloved, terrified; never knowing that this life can and should be beautiful, filled with comfort and peace, safety, the occasional indulgence.
He lifted his eyes to mine and I saw deep hurt and brutalizing sadness. We stood there, he and I, looking into each other's eyes. I, having loved and lost and hit rock bottom only to crawl my way back out; he, having never known love and knowing only the terrible truth of rock bottom.
I knew this someone needed me. I stepped through the glass door that separated him from me and heard his voice, a low menacing growl of a voice. A voice meant to intimidate. He and I were alone in the room. A room normally filled with rejects, and he was the only one left. Not even the last one picked for the team, he was unequivocally unwanted, even as a final option.
"He's on death row," a woman's voice said from behind me.
I turned and saw a short, stout woman in a forest green shirt. "Excuse me?" I asked, unfamiliar with the term.
"He's on death row. He'll be sent back for euthanization on Monday." Her face said this was a normal event in her week. I was appalled.
I turned back to the black cat in his small crate, the name "Midnight" on his name plate. Stepping next to his cage I looked him over again. Large patches of missing fur showed small round scars across his shoulders and haunches. A large swath of fur was missing completely from his side. His fur was in poor condition. He wasn't even a Goodwill cat; he was a rubbish heap cat.
"I'll take him. Bring me adoption papers. He's coming home with me."