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Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Terrible Noise

I had just left the foreign food store in Itaewon, and was heading down the hill towards the intersection where I would hang a left and go on to the subway station.

I passed the newish Halal bakery, and was headed across the dungy little alley/sidestreet, a few steps behind an ajuma (older Korean woman), when this terrible sound erupted from somewhere nearby.

It was obvious immediately what it was: two cats fighting.

Not just regular fighting, as in a hiss and snarl, but territorial and food fighting, as only street cats can do. It was a noise I had heard before here in Korea, where cats are not popular as pets.

The woman in front of me gave an involuntary jump of her shoulders, as did I; the deathly noise was very close by.

There were no cats visible, however. We were on a sidewalk, up next to 3 or 4-story buildings on the left side, the two-lane street on the right.

I kept on walking, as did she; it isn't really a very nice neighborhood.

Suddenly, just as we crossed the sidestreet--this was all happening very quickly, you understand--the cats' screeching erupted again.

Before a reaction was possible from either of us, two cats, locked in deadly combat, fell off of the second floor ledge above us and tumbled onto the sidewalk next to the woman, just missing her.

I noticed several things together:

*the cats were in a death grip with each other
*the cats were surprised
*the woman, scared witless, managed to jumped sideways
*I had managed to jump backwards

The cats landed with a meaty "thump!"

Ugly and dirty, they immediately disengaged. One got up and moved off a bit quickly while the other sat, half-stunned.

The Korean woman looked back at me as if to say, "Did you see what the hell just happened?"

I nodded to her, mentally assessing myself for damage.

While she moved off into the street, away from the cats, towards some bystanders who might have witnessed the feline catastrophe (we always want to share such experiences, don't we?), I kept going, though I detoured around the mangy-looking cat that seemed to be on the losing end of the fall.

I just wanted out of there.

Scary cats falling from the sky do give one a certain haste in life.